LBSCR J class 4-6-2

Marsh's very elegant "J" Class pacific tank was a class of just two locomotives, born out of the very unsuccessful I4 class. In fact the first of the pair, Nº325 Abergavenny, was originally intended to be an I4, Nº36, and had this number stamped on the parts of the motion.

This 4-6-2 express tank, which emerged from the workshops in 1910, was unlike any Brighton locomotive beforehand and was fitted with inclined outside cylinders, as on his Atlantics. The 6' 7½" diameter driving wheels, a large boiler with 170lb pressure, a bunker holding 3 tons of coal and tanks that held 2,300 gallons of water all contributed to making it the largest express passenger tank locomotive then built for the LBSCR (until L Billinton's Baltic tank of 1914), weighing in at some 86 tons in working order.

Nº2325 Abergavenny outside New Cross Gate MPD in 1938.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

2325 Abergavenny passes Wandsworth Common in Southern Railway days.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Bessborough on a humble working! Note that as well as some unsupported cable there is the wooden trunking on concrete posts that carried the cables before the advent of concrete trunking positioned in the ground.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

The second engine of class J was not built until 1912, after Marsh's departure from the LBSCR, and was Nº326 "Bessborough", though originally she was to have been named "Grosvenor". (This latter name was subsequently used for one of the Pullman cars operating on the LBSCR). Nº326 was not identical to Nº325 in that she had outside Walschaerts valve gear and reduced capacity tanks holding just 1,989 gallons.

Both engines earned their living working the heaviest Pullman trains on the main line but in later years, in the twilight years of the Southern Railway, found themselves based at Tunbridge Wells working traffic on that line and the Oxted Line.

Both locomotives had alterations to them during their working lives, "Bessborough's" cab was altered in 1913 and after the grouping the chimney and dome of each locomotive were cut down to fit the new Southern Railway's loading gauge. This was done quite aesthetically, which is more than can be said for the treatment meted out to some other es-LBSCR locomotives! Both engines lasted into early BR ownership, being withdrawn in June 1951.

2326 Bessborough at Eastleigh Works during April 1934. Note the difference in the valve gear when compared with Abergavenny below. There is also an interesting view of the front end of a detached tender on the right.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Bearing her new number but no crest, Abergavenny is seen in early British Railways days with "Birdcage" stock on a secondary passenger working.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

The first locomotive's name was very appropriate for the LBSCR, and was one used by both Stroudley and Marsh, in that Marquess Abergavenny (1853-1927), who owned vast amounts of land, was a stout supporter of the railway.

Abergavenny herself was involved in something of a scandal in the tabloid press of the day when, in 1911, Marsh went on indefinte sick leave and stories surfaced that he had "lost" a locomotive - a "ghost" Atlantic, Nº36 - which he had never built but, it was alleged, for which he had pocketed the money! Quite how he was supposed to have done this was never explained. Anyway, it was totally scurrilous with nothing going missing at all, apart from one John Maitland who managed to get himself entombed in one of Abergavenny's tanks whilst working on the speed indicator, and who was there for some time before being discovered and released!


Technical Details

  • Introduced: December 1910
  • Driving Wheel: 6 ft 7½ ins
  • Total Weight: 86 tons
  • Water Capacity: 1,989/2,300 gals
  • Cylinders (2): 20 in x 26 in
  • Boiler Pressure: 170 lb sq in
  • Tractive Effort: 18,900 lb
  • Coal Capacity: 3 tons
LBSC Nº SR Nº # BR Nº Built Name Withdrawn
325 2325 32325 Dec 1910 Abergavenny Jun 1951
326 2326 32326 Mar 1912 Bessborough Jun 1951
# Between 1923 and 1928 SR numbers were the LBSC numbers with the added prefix 'B'

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This page was last updated 28 June 2010

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