Wainwright H Class 0-4-4T Late BR (R3539)
The H Class was Harry Wainwright’s solution to updating the ageing 2-4-0 and 0-4-2T stock running on the South Eastern and Chatham Railway at the turn of the 20th century and was very much a development of Kirtley’s R Class and subsequent R1 design. Sixty six locomotives were built by Ashford Works, with No.540 being the first engine delivered on November 7, 1904 and No.184 the last, in April 1915.
Initially spread across the SECR region, from Bricklayers Arms down to Hastings and Ramsgate and various sheds in between, the engines operated on short haul suburban services such as Orpington and Tonbridge into the London termini, as well as from the coastal towns to Ashford and Tonbridge. Allocations and duties stayed fairly constant through to Grouping in 1923, with the addition of Reading-Redhill Branch services and the operation of semi-fast trains from Maidstone East into London Victoria during 1918/19. Following Grouping, services expanded to include East Grinstead, Horsham, Eastbourne and Brighton.
World War II saw some passenger services being curtailed, carriage piloting and shunting duties introduced and the loan of three engines to the LMS for operation on the Arbroath local services, receiving the 2P designation. Wartime servicing conditions led to two engines being condemned for use as spares, but the remaining sixty four entered British Rail stock in 1948. Withdrawal of D3, R and R1 classes in March 1949 led to a shortage of engines available for motor-train services and so the salvaged equipment was fitted to forty five of the class between 1949 and 1961. With electrification impacting on the H Class duties, their area of operation contracted and by January 1964, the final three engines were withdrawn, having been replaced by DEMU stock.
Locomotive No. 31518 was built in July 1909 at Ashford and entered traffic at Orpington, numbered 518, on the outer suburban London services into Victoria, St. Paul’s, Moorgate Street, Cannon Street and Charing Cross. Being dual braked, 518 mainly worked Chatham section trains. Renumbered A518 as it went through Ashford Works in December 1923, then 1518 in the renumbering scheme of July 1931, at Nationalisation the locomotive was numbered 31518. Motor fitted in March 1952, during the Kent Coast floods in 1953 No. 31518 operated Push/Pull services between Faversham and Herne Bay, before finally being withdrawn from Three Bridges in January 1964
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