Steam locomotive, London & South Western Railway, 2-4-0WT No 298, 'Beattie Well Tank', designed by W.G. Beattie, built in 1874, withdrawn in 1962. Renumbered 30587 by British Railways.
Tank engines are steam locomotives which carry their water in water tanks, rather than a tender. There are different types of tank engine, and this locomotive is a well tank, which means that the water is stored in a ‘well’ between the frames on the underside of the locomotive.
The standard well tanks were designed by Joseph Hamilton Beattie, the chief mechanical engineer of the London & South Western Railway, and introduced in 1862 to serve the rapidly expanding railway. After Joseph Beattie’s death in 1871 his son William George Beattie succeeded him as locomotive engineer and No. 298 is one of William’s designs.
This locomotive is one of two surviving members of its class of 85 engines. They were primarily built in Manchester by Beyer, Peacock and Co, although some were built at the LSWR’s workshop at Nine Elms.
After 20 years service in and around London, No. 298 found its way to Cornwall, where it worked on one of the oldest railways in Britain, the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway which opened in 1834. More modern locomotives were found to be too long and heavy for the tightly curved line, while Beattie Well Tanks with their short wheel base were well suited, resulting in them continuing to work for the next 67 years until being replaced in 1962.
Having had such a long working life, No.298 has gone through many changes over the years. It was originally built without a cab, and it also had the characteristic straight-sided ‘stove-pipe’ chimney of Beyer, Peacock & Co. In 1933 No.298 (by this time renumbered to 3298 for the Southern Railway) was overhauled at Eastleigh and all its badly worn parts replaced.
At nationalisation 3298 became 30587 from July 1948. Its duties were much as before, until the ex-Great Western Railway 1366 pannier tank class were tried experimentally on the Bodmin line and found to be capable of handling the difficult route. The Beattie Well Tanks were replaced in August 1962, when No. 298 was 88 years old. When finally retired by British Railways these locomotives were the oldest design still in use by the national operation.