S&DJR 7F 2-8-0
LMS 13809, a preserved 7F locomotive, working the Hellifield to Carnforth leg of a Cumbrian Mountain Pullman in 1983
The Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR) 7F 2-8-0 is a class of steam locomotive designed for hauling heavy coal and goods trains. Eleven were built in two batches in 1914 and 1925, and were used until withdrawal between 1959 and 1964. Two are preserved.
The Midland Railway, joint owners of the S&DJR with the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR), were in charge of locomotive policy on the line. The S&DJR which was heavily graded and required power over and above what was available from the Midland's small engines. M. H. Ryan, S&DJR locomotive superintendent argued for a type specific to the line.
Two plans for 0-8-0s were suggested in 1907 but would have been too heavy. Clearly a special exception to the small engine policy, James Clayton the draughtsman at Derby was given a free hand to design the engine, and produced something unlike any other Derby-designed locomotive of the time.
The design used the G9AS boiler from the Midland Compounds, with a Belpaire firebox and Walschaerts valve gear. A leading pony truck was added, to distribute the weight, making it a 2-8-0. The cylinders were mounted high on the frame, and sloped, to avoid fouling platforms. Because of the gradients that the loco would face, Clayton provided two steam brake cylinders on the engine and a further one on the tender.In service, the cast iron brake blocks originally fitted wore very quickly, and Ferodo blocks were substituted. The Derby standard axle boxes were fitted, so the engines were still subject to the hot boxes that were a fact of life on the Midland. As the locomotives were initially too large for some of the turntables, it was envisaged that they would spend half their time travelling in reverse. Consequently, they were fitted with tablet exchanging apparatus on both sides of the locomotive. In addition, the first six were equipped with cab tenders, but these were later removed circa 1920. The 1914-built locomotives were right-hand drive, while the 1925-built were left-hand drive. In all cases the vacuum brake ejector was located on the driver's side of the smokebox.
Six were built in 1914 and numbered 80–85 by the S&DJR. In 1925 an additional 5 were ordered from Robert Stephenson and Company in Darlington and built with the larger G9BS boilers, becoming numbers 86–90. Two locomotives, 9679 (ex-89) and 9680 (ex-90) received the smaller G9AS boiler in 1930, while the remaining three retained the larger boiler until it was replaced in the 1950s – 53808 in 1953; 53807 in 1954; and 53806 in 1955. These locomotives gained a packing piece between the smaller boiler and original smokebox saddle. The exception was 53807, the smokebox saddle being rotten and replaced with a one-piece unit like the 1914-built locomotives. This locomotive was therefore unique, as only left-hand drive locomotive with a one piece smokebox saddle.
East Midlands trials
Their success on the Mendip hills prompted the Midland to try them on the East Midlands coal trains, but they were not so satisfactory. They were, after all, designed for climbing hills, but perhaps the reasons were fuel efficiency, for they consumed considerable amounts of high quality coal.
The S&DJR locos were taken into London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) stock in 1930, and renumbered 9670–9680. They were renumbered as 13800–13810 in 1932. On nationalisation in 1948 British Railways (BR) added 40000 to their numbers making them 53800–53810.
Withdrawals of the 1914-built locomotives occurred between 1959 and 1962 and the five 1925-built engines were all withdrawn between 1963 and 1964.
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Two of the 1925-built locos have survived, these being No. 88 (9678/13808/53808), owned by the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust (SDRT) and running on the West Somerset Railway, and No. 89 (9679/13809/53809), at the Midland Railway - Butterley. No. 88 first returned to service after restoration in August 1987 in BR Black (with the Early Crest), and ran up to Spring 1996 when it was withdrawn for overhaul, during which time it only made one visit away from the WSR, to the Severn Valley Railway in September 1995, as well as running with its pre LMS number. The engine's first overhaul in preservation was completed in December 2005, and it returned to service in S&DJR blue livery, which it never carried in service. The engine carried this livery for the duration of its second 10-year boiler ticket, during which it made three return visits to the SVR in March 2007, March 2008 and September 2014, as well as first time visits to the Mid-Hants Railway in September 2010, and the Great Central Railway in October 2011, before being withdrawn for overhaul in October 2014. This second overhaul was completed in February 2016, with the engine being repainted back into BR black (with the Late Crest) with the number 53808.
No. 89 first resteamed following restoration at Swanwick in 1980 in LMS livery as 13809, and it worked through the 1980s and early 1990s, reverting to its BR Number 53809 in 1987 (with the Early Crest), before being withdrawn for overhaul circa 1994. During this time, it visited the SVR in 1987, and the East Lancashire Railway in 1993 alongside working at Butterley, and even worked on the mainline for a period. The engine's first overhaul was completed in January 2006, and the locomotive emerged in BR Black Livery as No. 53809 (with the Late Crest), entering service in early February at the Midland Railway - Butterley. Shortly after this overhaul was finished, the loco made a poignant return to the site of Bath Green Park Station (now a car park for Sainsbury's) in March 2006, to celebrate 40 years since the S&D closed, after which it was reunited with No. 88 at the WSR. The locomotive then ran for 5 years before it was withdrawn from service early in 2011, requiring boiler repairs that necessitated another overhaul to be carried out. During the five years it ran, it made first time visits to the Nene Valley Railway and the Bluebell Railway in 2008, as well as several stays at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway during 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010, alongside running at Butterley. The engine's second overhaul was completed in February 2016, keeping its previous BR livery with the Post 1956 Crest. As in 2006, the engine's first call of duty was at the WSR alongside No. 88 again, this time celebrating 50 years since the S&D closed.
- Haresnape, Brian (February 1981) . Fowler Locomotives: A Pictorial History. Shepperton: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0374-2. CX/0281.
- Nock, O. S., Chapter 9 "Locomotives" in Atthill, Robin (1985). The Somerset and Dorset Railway. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. ISBN 0-7153-8692-1.
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