South Eastern Q and Q1

James Stirling took office as Locomotive Superintendent of the South Eastern Railway in 1878. Unlike the general trend of the period he was a believer in standardisation and in fact during the 21 years of office he only produced six different designs. Notwithstanding its designer's standardisation policy, the Q class 0-4-4T, which was proposed in 1880 for suburban passenger work seems to have had a significant number of variations as the design developed. 12 of the new engines were built in 1881-2 at Ashford with condensers and short chimneys for use on the East London line. A further 10 were purchased from Neilson Reid without condensers and with standard chimneys. In the tradition of the Stirling brothers, all of course had domeless boilers. By 1897 a total of 118 Qs had been built, 48 at Ashford, 60 by Neilson Reid and the remaining 10 by Sharp Stewart. The design was developed over the years although improvements were not necessarily made retrospectively.
Nº173 one of thirty Qs built between 1887 and 1894 with 3ft 9ins diameter bogie wheels.Nº 173 was built in 1888

photograph from L G Marshall collection

SEC_Q_359 Nº 359 built in 1891 as part of a batch by Neilson, Reid & Co with long wheelbase bogies

photograph from L G Marshall collection

With formation of the South Eastern & Chatham Railway in 1899 Harry S Wainwright took over as Locomotive Superintendent and between 1901 and 1904 18 of the Qs received Wainwright's new improved domeless boilers with deeper fireboxes and sloping grates. However it seems that they proved to be indifferent steamers.
Nº356 seen here at Slades Green in 1902 fitted with Wainwright's new domeless boilers replacing the original Stirling one. The higher pitched boiler seems to have given them a more powerful look.

H.L. Hopswood/LCGB Ken Nunn collection

SEC_Q_367 Nº367 again with a Wainwright domeless boiler

LPC/R.M.Casserley collection

By 1903 Wainwright's new boilers for his H class were in production and a start was made on reboilering some of the Qs with the new design of boiler to become the Q1 class. Eventually 55 locomotives were converted to Q1 whilst the first 24 Qs to have been built were scrapped in 1913.
Nº76 at Bricklayers Arms in 1920 having by this time been converted to a Q1 with a Wainwright H class boiler


SEC_Q1_415 Q1 Nº415 in SECR slate grey livery at Slade Green in 1922


Now with its Southern Railway number NºA12 between Shortlands and Beckenham Junction shortly before the commencement of electric services in July 1925


However, neither class was as effective as Wainwright's H class or indeed the reboilered ex-LC&DR R1 0-4-4Ts and as electrification resulted in a surplus of suburban tank engines the Qs and Q1s days were numbered. By March 1929 all the Qs had been condemned and the last Q1s struggled on until 1930. The last Q was No A368 and the last Q1s were Nos A364 and A367. A423 was used as a stationary boiler until March 1933.
A line of Q1s await their fate at Purley shed in 1926.




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This page was last updated 16 November 2012

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