Buttons Index

Bulleid 0-6-0 'Q1' Class

Email from Geoff Cobb :
Have any of the Nine Elms drivers or firemen recounted their experiences of driving Q1 0-6-0s? My only evidence of them being at Nine Elms is having seen a photograph of one there. My very limited knowledge of them is that they were unpopular with drivers due to their lack of splash plates but 'had a fair turn of speed' when used for occasional passenger services. Hoping that someone from Nine Elms can enlighten me.

Nigel Whitwell writes:
Regarding the query from Geoff Cobb on the "Q1" Class 0-6-0s, I remember George Holloway (ex Nine Elms driver) once stating that they could start anything but stopping was another matter. Their braking with an unfitted train was suspect. However, regarding their turn of speed, I have experience of a trip behind one from Guildford to Redhill when speed certainly exceeded 60 m.p.h. (I have the tape-recording of most of this journey so it can be verified); the smokebox door was glowing red on arrival at Redhill. As an aside, their steaming was never usually suspect, and I once saw one trundling through Hastings on a lengthy freight with the smokebox door almost fully open, the crew had no idea until alerted.

Shedmaster - any other contributions about the 'Q1's will be welcomed.

Bulleid 0-6-0 Class 'Q1' locomotives by Jim Lester

Whilst Nine Elms depot had three allocated 'Q1's, namely 33015, 33017 and 33038 in the 1950's, the rest of the class of forty were to be found in other sheds on the Southern system but oddly enough were seldom ever seen in the West of England for some strange 'unknown' reason?

Personally I thought that they truly were quite remarkable locomotives and the incidence of working on them increased immeasurably when I sought promotion as an appointed 'Fireman' at Feltham depot early in 1960. As Feltham was a freight depot I had the good fortune to work on all of the 'Q1's that were part of 70B's allocation and indeed on some of those from 70C's Guildford shed. Interestingly at this time some of the 74D's Tonbridge based locomotives were displaced with the early introduction of diesel traction on the South Eastern section and latterly became part of the South Western's motive power allotment.

As such I certainly had many experiences of footplate work and witnessed first-hand the superb performance of these rather unusual and somewhat unconventional engines. I actually recorded working many times, over two hundred and sixty in fact, on twenty-one of the class during my steam days; 33001, 33002, 33003, 33004, 33005, 33006, 33007, 33009, 33010, 33011, 33012, 33014, 33015, 33016, 33017, 33018, 33024, 33027, 33035, 33038, 33040.

Their lengthy narrow grate area provided the ability to keep a good head of steam in the boiler that was pressed at 220lbs. In comparison with the Drummond 0-6-0 '700's that lifted the valves just over 160lbs this was a huge benefit when working near the limit. The 'Belpaire' boiler design meant that the water could be carried quite high without fear of priming which certainly could be a problem on a '700' from time to time.

The rather 'austere' enclosed footplate environment provided ample protection from the vagaries of the bad weather but adversely could be somewhat 'warm' in the summer months. Originally a hydrostatic lubricator was mounted in the cab just in front of the Fireman's seat and you certainly needed to be more than aware of its presence. The water drain valve was level with your head when you were sitting down, indeed on many an occasion contact was made with it on the lively footplate, very painful I recall! Experience however prevailed and once the lubricator had been drained of water and filled with thick 'vacuum' lubricator oil a hand cloth would be wrapped and tied around the troublesome valve several times thus providing padding that certainly reduced any later serious collisions. Many a Nine Elms wag would say you can always tell a Feltham man because they kept their bicycle clips on, well that might have been the case with the Drivers but the Firemen I thought certainly had a few tell-tale 'black and blue' bruises after a week of work on a Q1'! Later mechanical lubricators were eventually fitted thus eliminating both the footplate hydrostatic lubricators and at the same time that wretched drain valve the bane of a Fireman's life. Equally cleaning the smoke-box was another precarious task due to the lack of room to actually stand when shovelling out the accumulation of hot smoke-box char, Feltham depot to their credit did however provide some planking that when used straddled the buffers which made life a 'little' safer when cleaning out the front-end.

Earlier work in the late fifties on 70A's allocation of 'Q1's involved small local freight turns and the milk traffic transfers between Clapham Junction's 'Kenny' sidings to either Kensington Olympia or the Merton milk depot. It didn't really allow any true assessment of them, however the diagrammed Feltham work performed by them most certainly did.

First real impressions gained in 1960 were over the Reading route with the climb from Egham to Gas Works sidings the top of the bank beyond Sunningdale before finally dropping down through Ascot and on to Reading. You needed an engine steaming well for this sustained gradient work and I found them not wanting on all occasions. Stratford Temple Mills Yard and Hither Green transfer freights were other 'difficult' lines over which they excelled.

Indeed on more than one occasion Eastern Region crews would ask to come up on the footplate whilst we were in the yard at Stratford, they were amazed at the manner in which such a relatively small engine performed, far better than their larger class locomotives it was said!

They were vacuum brake fitted and surprisingly, for a freight engine, didn't have a steam brake. On one occasion when firing to Derrick Leming one day we had one of 70A's 'Q1's, No. 33015, up to Willesden South West sidings that went well, with no hint of brake problems to come. However on the somewhat heavier return trip when Derrick started to buffer up the train after passing Acton Wells Junction the brake force now available was having very little affect as we gathered speed. The handbrake was immediately screwed down and the steam 'reverser' used to provide back-pressure in the cylinders in an attempt to further retard the increasing train speed on the falling gradient! Such was the situation that the engine whistle was now providing evidence of our problem and signalmen fortunately responded by clearing the route ahead that included both crossing gates and indeed the junction at South Acton for Gunnersbury - Richmond trains. Thankfully we eventually regained control of the train by the time we reached New Kew Junction where we were able to continue on to Feltham with a great degree of caution. Needless to say this was quite an experience for both of us and I daresay the Guard was hanging on! Certainly it could have had far more serious consequences but it turned out well in the circumstances! Naturally after arrival in Feltham East End Reception sidings we went on shed where the fitters attended the locomotive and found a defective vacuum cylinder roller ring that had caused the tender brake failure.

Well there you are, in my view I thought that they were magnificent in many ways but not withstanding a few operational problems as I have recounted!

Copyright 2010 Jim (James) Lester - 70A

Brian Aynsley has sent these notes about the 'Q1':

I was interested in the various comments regarding these loco's. I had a lot of experience on them as a fireman at Guildford and found them very uncomfortable to work on, in my opinion Bullied engines usually were. However their performance was exceptional for an 0-6-0, the only problem I found was that they needed a full head of steam, if the pressure dropped so did the performance.

One of my worst experiences was on a Q1. I had been a passed cleaner for a couple of years and gone on loan to all manner of depot's on the 'Southern', in all that time I had never stopped for a 'blow up'. I was quite proud of this record, until one week I was booked to work the 'Angerstien wharf' goods train from Woking to Redhill.

We had C19 (33019) as our loco and stopped short of steam three times during the week, once on Shere heath, once near the summit of Dorking bank and once between Betchworth and Reigate. I think that there was something wrong with the engine, as I worked that train many times after that using various Q1s, with no problems.

Strangely enough, my worst firing trip ever was made with C19 (33019). With driver Bert Heath we went light engine to Fratton, turned on the triangle and berthed the engine in the loco depot while we had our tea break.

While we were having our tea, somebody decided to fill our tender with coal. Unfortunately, they filled it with eggs. These were egg shaped brickettes made from coal dust held together with cement. They were horrible things.

The upshot was that the fire looked like a lot of red hot sand, I couldn't do anything to liven it up and after a monumental struggle up Buriton bank and up the bank from Liss, we eventually stopped in the platform at Haslemere.

When we got moving again we ran down the hill to Guildford but made hardly any steam at all. At Guildford, Bert filled the tender with water while I took some clinker out of the fire and threw some coal from the back of the tender into the hole where I had taken out some brickettes.

Having raised some steam we set of for Feltham and had little problem until we passed Staines, when the steam presure dropped again, we just made it into Feltham yard. We went back light engine to Guildford and never got full steam pressure at all. What a night!

Brian Aynsley

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