Locomotives of the Somerset & Dorset

The last of the ex-S&D 2-8-0s, No 53810, is seen at Bath shed during the spring of 1957.
Published Mon, 2016-03-21 12:01

The 50th anniversary of the closure of the Somerset & Dorset Joint was marked recently by a number of special events on the West Somerset Railway.


The last of the ex-S&D 2-8-0s, No 53810, is seen at Bath shed during the spring of 1957. © Peter N. Williams/Online Transport Archive (PNW1014)

Amongst the attractions were the last two surviving examples of the 2-8-0 locomotives built especially for the line in 1914 and 1925.

Whilst many of Britain’s joint lines were simply operated by the locomotives and rolling stock of the parent railways, the Somerset & Dorset was unusual in that it possessed its own stock until 1930 when the line’s locomotives were absorbed by the LMS and the line’s own workshops at Highbridge closed. As the S&D was jointly owned eventually by the Midland Railway, it was inevitable that Derby would have a considerable influence on the locomotive development of the line; this was particularly the case during the Johnson and Fowler years and many of the line’s locomotives were identical to the designs of these engineers used widely over the Midland system.

In 1930, the S&D possessed more than 70 steam locomotives; these passed to LMS ownership and many subsequently passed on Nationalisation to British Railways. The last of the former S&D locomotives were not withdrawn until 1967 — outlasting the line itself.

In 1930, the oldest S&D locomotives in service were seven of the nine 0-6-0STs built by Fox, Walker & Co of Bristol in 1874 — Nos 1-5 — and 1876 — Nos 6-9. Two of the 1876 batch had been withdrawn before the LMS take over, in the late 1920s, but the remaining seven were renumbered 1500-07 by their new owners. They were, however, destined to have a short life, all being withdrawn by the end of 1934.

These were succeeded by nine 0-4-4Ts constructed by the Avonside Engine Co of Bristol; S&D Nos 10-14 and 29-32 were delivered in 1877. All bar one, which was withdrawn shortly before the transfer to the LMS, passed to the new owners, being renumbered 1200-07 by the LMS. Again short-lived, all were withdrawn by the end of 1932.

In 1878, the S&D acquired a batch of six locomotives, Nos 33-38, from the Glasgow-based manufacturer, Neilson & Co. Nicknamed ‘Scotties’, five of the batch of 0-6-0s survived to be renumbered 2880-84 by the LMS, although again all were withdrawn by the end of 1932.

Another of the traditional S&D types to pass to the LMS in 1930 were three of the batch of four 0-6-0s, Nos 52-55, that were built by the Vulcan Foundry of Newton-le-Willows. The three survivors were renumbered 1230-32 but also succumbed by the end of 1932.

Between 1891 and 1908, Derby Works delivered 13 4-4-0s to an S&D design; of these, only six survived to be taken over by the LMS. These were to become LMS Nos 300-03, all of which were withdrawn by the end of 1931, and Nos 320/21, which had been S&D Nos 77 and 78. The latter two were withdrawn in 1931 and 1938.

In 1896 the S&D received five Johnson-designed 0-6-0s and were numbered 62-66 by the S&D. These were followed in 1902 by a further batch of five, Nos 72-76, that were built in Glasgow by Neilson, Reid & Co. Nicknamed ‘Bulldogs’, all 10 were to be taken over by the LMS in 1930. The 1896 batch became LMS Nos 3194, 3198, 3201, 3204 and 3211 respectively. The first withdrawal, No 3198, succumbed in 1947 but the remaining four survived into the BR era, with the last, No 43211, being withdrawn in July 1961. The 1902 batch became Nos 3216, 3218, 3228, 3248 and 3260; all survived to be taken over by British Railways but No 3260, withdrawn in October 1949, was never physically renumbered. The remaining four were withdrawn between October 1952 and September 1962, when No 43216 was taken out of service.

Following on from the earlier 4-4-0s, Derby Works supplied five further locomotives to Johnson’s ‘2P’ class in 1914 (Nos 70 and 71) and 1921 (Nos 67-69). These were renumbered by the S&D to 39-43 respectively and were to become LMS Nos 322-26. All were to survive through to Nationalisation. They were, however, not to survive long under BR ownership; the first to be withdrawn was No 40325 in October 1951 and the last two were Nos 40326 and 40323, which were withdrawn in May and September 1956 respectively.

The first of the classis S&D 2-8-0 ‘7F’ class, designed for the line by Fowler, also appeared in 1914 from Derby Works. Numbered 80-85, these six were followed by a further five, built this time by Robert Stephenson & Co in Darlington, as Nos 86-90. All 11 passed to the LMS in 1930 and were initially renumbered 9670-81; eventually becoming LMS 13800-11, they were to become BR Nos 53800-11 in 1948. All were to see more than a decade of service on BR, with the first to be withdrawn, No 53800, being taken out of service in July 1959. One was withdrawn in 1960, two in 1961, two in 1962, one in 1963 and the remainder in 1964. The last to succumb was No 53807 in October of that year. Although all were sold for scrap, Nos 53808/09 were sold to the famous Woodham Bros scrapyard and subsequently rescued. Both have now been fully restored to operational condition.

In 1922 the railway received a batch of five Armstrong Whitworth-built 0-60s, Nos 57-61; these were built to the Fowler ‘4F’ design then being built for the Midland and later LMS. All five passed to the LMS, becoming Nos 4557-61, and to British Railways in 1948. The five were all withdrawn between April 1962 and September 1965.

The final Midland-designed locomotives to be delivered new to the S&D were seven Fowler-designed 0-6-0Ts. The ‘3Fs’, nicknamed ‘Jinties’, were numbered 19-25 on the S&D, becoming LMS Nos 7310-16 in 1930 and thus BR Nos 47310-16 on Nationalisation. Built by W. G. Bagnall, the septet remained in service until the first to be withdrawn, No 47315, succumbed I August 1959. The last of the batch to be withdrawn and thus the last ex-S&D locomotive to remain in main-line service was No 47313, which was withdrawn in June 1967.

The final two S&D locomotives to pass to the LMS were two Sentinel-built 0-4-0Ts that had been built in 1929. Numbered 101 and 102 by the S&D, they were to become LMS Nos 7190/91 in 1930. Both were to survive into the BR era, being withdrawn in August 1959 (No 47191) and March 1961 (No 47190).

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