SECR C class
C class 592 after its latest overhaul, August 2007.
The South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR) C Class is a class of 0-6-0 steam locomotive, designed by Harry Wainwright and built between 1900 and 1908. They were designed for freight duties, although occasionally used for passenger trains. They operated over the lines of the railway in London and south-east England until the early 1960s. One example was rebuilt as an S Class saddle tank
The SECR held trials in November 1898 to decide on a standard freight locomotive design. Two existing 0-6-0 locomotives were tested: former London, Chatham and Dover Railway B2 class No. 194 designed by William Kirtley; and former South Eastern Railway O class No. 436 designed by James Stirling. The Kirtley design proved superior and a new order for 40 locomotives based on it was placed. These new locomotives were designed by Harry Wainwright, the new Chief Mechanical Engineer of the railway, and formed the first of the C class.
The first fifteen locomotives were constructed by Neilson, Reid and Company and delivered in June 1900, followed by a further fifteen from Sharp, Stewart and Company. The remainder were built by the SECR workshops at Ashford (70 examples 1900-1908) and Longhedge Works (9 examples 1903-4).
The locomotives were used on freight services and occasional passenger excursion trains (such as hop-picking specials), throughout the SER between Reading railway station and the Kent Coast. The last twelve locomotives were fitted with steam carriage heating equipment to enable them to be used to haul and prepare empty stock for express trains. The remainder of the class were also so equipped by the Southern Railway after 1923.
- In March 1904, a passenger train hauled by No. 294 was derailed at Gomshall, Surrey.
- At 03:40 hrs on 5 May 1919, a goods train from Bricklayers Arms to Margate Sands, Kent overran signals and ran into the back of another goods train just to the west of Paddock Wood station, Kent. The Margate train was hauled by C class No. 721. It had 50 goods vehicles including three brake vans. The other train was hauled by C class No. 61. The fireman of this train was killed in the accident. Although the main cause of the accident was the driver of the Margate train failing to obey signals, the signalman at Tonbridge East signal box was also censured for failure to give the driver adequate warning that although the train had been accepted by the signalman at Paddock Wood, the line was not clear. The signalman at Paddock Wood had accepted the train under Regulation No 5 - "Section clear but station or junction blocked".
- On 18 February 1948, locomotive 1225 was wrongly despatched into the north sidings at Goudhurst, Kent and derailed.
- On 4 July 1958, locomotive No. 31461 was hauling an empty stock train that was in collision with an electric multiple unit at Maze Hill, London after the latter overran signals. Forty-five people were injured.
In common with other freight locomotives in Southern England, the class was very heavily used during the Second World War and repairs and maintenance deferred. As a result, one locomotive had to be withdrawn in December 1947, but the remaining 107 examples entered service with British Railways in 1948. Withdrawals of the remainder of the class began in 1953, but accelerated after the Kent Coast electrification in 1959-1960. However, three examples (31271, 31280, 31592) remained in Departmental stock as shunters at Ashford Works until 1966.
S class conversion
In 1917 one example, no. 685 was converted into an S class 0-6-0ST for use as a heavy-duty shunter at Richborough port which was then being used to ship locomotives and armoured equipment to the Western Front. After the War it was used as a shunter at Bricklayers' Arms until 1951.
- Aves, W.A.T. (February–March 2008). "The Locomotives Built at the Southern Railway Works - Ashford: Part 2 1900-1952". Locomotives Illustrated. 169.
- Bradley 1980, p. 8.
- Bradley 1980, p. 9.
- Trevena, Arthur (1980). Trains in Trouble. Vol. 1. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 18. ISBN 0-906899-01-X.
- Earnshaw, Alan (1993). Trains in Trouble, Volume Eight. Penryn: Atlantic. pp. 8–9. ISBN 0-906899-52-4.
- Scott-Morgan, John (2008). Branches & Byways - Kent. Hersham: Oxford Publishing Co. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-86093-616-9.
- Earnshaw, Alan (1990). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 6. Penryn: Atlantic Books. p. 37. ISBN 0-906899-37-0.
- Bradley 1980, pp. 102–103.
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