LSWR O2 class

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IoWSR coach & O2.jpg
Number W24 Calbourne and vintage ex-SECR carriage on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway (c) Ron Strutt.
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Designer William Adams
Builder LSWR Nine Elms Works
Build date 1889–1895
Total produced 60
 • Whyte 0-4-4T
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Driver dia. 58 in (1.473 m)
Trailing dia. 37 in (0.940 m)
Length 30 ft 8.5 in (9.360 m)
Loco weight 48.40 long tons (49.18 t; 54.21 short tons)
Fuel type Coal
Fuel capacity 1.50 long tons (1.52 t; 1.68 short tons); later 3.25 long tons (3.30 t; 3.64 short tons)
Water cap 800 imp gal (3,600 L; 960 US gal)
Boiler pressure 160 psi (1.10 MPa)
Cylinders Two, inside
Cylinder size 17 12 in × 24 in (444 mm × 610 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort 17,235 lbf (76.67 kN)
Operators London and South Western Railway, Southern Railway, Southern Region of British Railways
Class LSWR: O2
SR: O2
Power class Isle of Wight: B
BR: 0P
Locale Great Britain
Disposition One preserved, remainder scrapped
Ex-LSWR O2 class 0-4-4T at Ryde Esplanade in 1965

The LSWR O2 Class is a class of 0-4-4T steam locomotive designed for the London and South Western Railway by William Adams. Sixty were constructed during the late nineteenth century.


Adams was presented with the problem of a greatly increasing volume of commuter traffic experienced with the suburbanisation of London during the 1880s.[2] This was exacerbated by the fact that there were few locomotive classes in the LSWR stable that could undertake commuter traffic at the desired level of efficiency.[2] The LSWR therefore required a locomotive with attributes of power and compactness, with a small wheel size to gain acceleration on intensive timetables. Adams settled upon the 0-4-4T wheel arrangement to provide the basis of what was to become the O2 Class.[2]

Construction history[edit]

The second of William Adam's 0-4-4 designs, the O2 Class was a development of his previous T1 class of 1888.[1] The brief behind the design was to create a locomotive capable of mixed-traffic operations, a characteristic dictated by the relatively small wheel diameter and smaller cylinders, effectively to replace the obsolete Beattie Well Tank.[3] As a result, a compact locomotive with high route availability was produced, a factor that would be essential during the later career of the class.[3]

Production began in 1889, with the first 20 being constructed at the LSWR's Nine Elms works.[1] The success of the locomotive ensured that a second batch of 30 locomotives was ordered the next year. A final batch of ten was constructed by 1895.[1]

Order Year Quantity LSWR numbers Notes

Operational History (Mainland)[edit]

1889–1922: LSWR[edit]

The class was initially used intensively on London suburban services, but began to be replaced on these as early as 1897 by the introduction of the more powerful Drummond M7 and T1 classes.[1] As a result, the O2s were cascaded to lighter services, and became distributed throughout the LSWR system, being of particular use on restricted branch lines due to their relatively low weight and short wheelbase.[3]

1923–1948: Southern Railway[edit]

All of the O2s survived to be taken into Southern Railway ownership after the Grouping in 1923. They continued to be used across the former LSWR network, however, electrification and the introduction of more modern types started to make them redundant. This allowed the Southern Railway to send the first 2 spare examples across to the Isle of Wight (see below). Other redundant mainland locomotives were withdrawn, with eight going in the 1930s, and four more in the 1940s.[1]

1948–1967: British Railways[edit]

Despite the early withdrawals, a number of O2s lasted well into BR days, working various branch lines until closure began to take place in the late 1950s and early 1960s.[4] As a result, the mainland O2s became redundant and the last to go was number 30225 in 1962.[4]

Isle of Wight[edit]

The class is usually best associated with the Isle of Wight railway system, with the Isle of Wight Central Railway making enquires as to the possibility of purchasing some class members in the early twentieth century.[1] This plan, however, fell through, and it was not until after Grouping in 1923, that the newly formed Southern Railway was forced to resolve the desperate locomotive power situation on the Isle of Wight.[3]

The opportunity to resolve this problem presented itself when electrification of the LSWR's suburban network meant a cascade of newer, more powerful designs such as the M7s and T1s into the O2's rural strongholds.[3] As a result, several O2s became surplus to mainland requirements. Two of these spare engines were modified at Eastleigh works, with the addition of a Westinghouse Air Brake to allow compatibility with the Isle of Wight coaching stock. These two O2s were shipped across the Solent in 1923 and trialed extensively on services across the island, but particularly the intensive Ryde-Ventnor line services, where they proved to be highly successful. Further engines were then shipped across in small batches throughout the 1920s and 1930s.[2]

The final two O2s were sent over in 1949, after Nationalisation, resulting in a total of 23 locomotives on the island.[3] Due to tunnel restrictions at Ventnor, none of the final series of 10 with the higher cab roofs were sent to the island.[1] Because of their compact nature, they proved ideal for island duties, although the problem of the lack of adequate coal bunker space hampered the class. This meant that from 1932, a much larger extended bunker was fitted to W19 (formerly 206), and this design subsequently became the standard for all the island locomotives.[1]

After the withdrawal of the last LB&SCR E1 class in 1960, the O2 became the single locomotive class on the island. They survived in service until the end of steam services on the Island, with an O2 operating the final train on 31 December 1966.[4]

Two, numbers W24 Calbourne and W31 Chale were retained to work engineers trains during the electrification of the surviving Ryde to Sandown line. Both were withdrawn on completion of the electrification project in March 1967.

Livery, names and numbering[edit]


Initially outshopped in early LSWR passenger Yellow Ochre/Brown livery with the initials 'LSW' on the water tank sides.[2] This was eventually superseded by the later LSWR Passenger Sage Green livery, with black edging and black and white lining.[3] Numbering was in gilt, as was the 'LSWR' lettering on the water tank side.[3]

Only a solitary mainland locomotive ever carried a name in service, number 185 Alexandria for a short period between 1890 and 1896.[3]

Southern Railway[edit]

In Southern Railway days the O2s were painted in Maunsell lined Olive Green and then subsequently Bulleid Malachite Green with Sunshine lettering.

The LSWR numbers were retained by the Southern Railway, with mainland locomotives allocated numbers in the series between 177 and 236.

Locomotives on the Isle of Wight were renumbered in a separate sequence with the prefix "W" and taking the next available number, or the number of the withdrawn locomotive they were sent over to replace. Eventually those on the island occupied the entire sequence between W14 and W36.[3]

All the O2s allocated to the Isle of Wight were named after places on the island.[5]

British Railways[edit]

No. 225 pictured in 1948

The class was given the Power Classification of 0P, and initially carried the Southern livery with the addition of 'British Railways' on the water tank sides, though this was promptly changed to the BR Standard Mixed-Traffic Black livery with red and white lining.[4]

The Isle of Wight's unique numbering system was retained on the BR examples on the island, along with the names.[4]

The mainland complement were renumbered by the addition of 30000 to their existing Southern Railway numbers to give a new number in the 30177 to 30236 sequence.[4]


A steam locomotive in a maintenance depot. Beneath it is an inspection pit. To the left is a Diesel shunting locomotive; to the right is another steam locomotive and a crane.
W24 Calbourne in BR lined black livery, August 2010

The two Isle of Wight locomotives used on engineering trains survived long enough for preservation attempts to be made. The attempt to preserve W31 failed, and it was scrapped in 1967.

W24 Calbourne, was bought by the Wight Locomotive Society, which in 1971 moved its headquarters to Havenstreet and became the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Calbourne is in operating condition following the completion of her recent overhaul, and hauls tourist trains over the line between Smallbrook Junction and Wootton.

Calbourne is the only surviving O2 locomotive, the rest of the class were scrapped.


DJmodels has produced models of the O2 class in both mainland and IOW variants.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Herring (2000). pp. 60–61.
  2. ^ a b c d e Burtt, F. (1949).
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bradley, D.L.: LSWR Locomotives: The Adams Classes(Didcot: Wild Swan Publications, 1985)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Longworth (2005).
  5. ^ Bradley 1967, p. 48
  6. ^
  • Bradley, D.L. (1967). Locomotives of the L.S.W.R.: Part 2. Kenilworth: RCTS. 
  • Bradley, D.L. (1985). LSWR Locomotives: The Adams Classes. Didcot, Oxon: Wild Swan Publications. ISBN 0-906867-38-X. 
  • Burtt, F. (1949). L. & S.W.R. Locomotives: 1872–1923. London: Ian Allan. 
  • Herring, Peter (2000). Classic British Steam Locomotives. London: Abbeydale Press. ISBN 1-86147-057-6. 
  • Longworth, Hugh (2005). British Railway Steam Locomotives: 1948–1968. Oxford Publishing Company. ISBN 0-86093-593-0. 

External links[edit]