Steam locomotive, No C1, Q1 Class, 0-6-0, Southern Railway, designed by O V Bulleid, built at Brighton in 1942, withdrawn in 1964. Weight: 51.25 tons; length 54 feet, 10 ½ inches; driving wheel diameter: 5 feet, 1 inch
The Southern Railway’s Q1 class of 1942 met an urgent requirement for freight locomotives during the Second World War. Although old-fashioned, the 0-6-0 tender locomotive design was selected by the Chief Mechanical Engineer, Oliver Bulleid, because it offered good adhesion for hauling freight trains. The new locomotive would combine the highest power with the lowest weight, using the minimum of scarce materials. This allowed Bulleid to use the largest possible boiler and firebox to ensure excellent steam-raising capability. The result was the most powerful – and likely the most unusual-looking – class of 0-6-0 tender locomotive ever built in Britain.
The Q1 was 14 tons lighter than an equivalent locomotive of conventional design and could run on 93 per cent of the Southern’s railway network. To save weight, items such as the footplating over the driving wheels were dispensed with, and much use was made of welding. The unusual Bulleid-Firth-Brown patent wheels – also found on Bulleid’s Pacific locomotives – gave all-round support to the tyre and were lighter than the spoked equivalent. The stepped, slab-sided boiler casing was dictated by the type of insulation used and the different profiles of the boiler and firebox, giving a stark, box-like appearance unlike any other British steam locomotive. On seeing a photograph William Stanier (Chief Mechanical Engineer of London Midland and Scottish Railway) is reputed to have quipped, “where’s the key?”
No C1 is the prototype of the Q1 class, of which 40 were built - the first 20 at Brighton Works and the rest at Ashford. They proved an invaluable addition to Southern Railway’s fleet, and were also used on passenger trains on occasion. While they were an austerity design intended to meet an urgent wartime requirement and therefore not envisaged for long-term use, the class nevertheless continued into British Railways ownership in 1948 and remained in service until the mid-1960s. Under British Railways, C1 was given the number 33001 and was preserved for the National Collection in 1964. It was based on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex between 1977 and 2004, when it returned to the National Railway Museum.