Maunsell L1 Class 4-4-0

Photograph: Mike Morant collection
L1 class Nº 31786 in early BR livery. The full legend occupies nearly the entire length of the tender which is of the same type fitted to the N class moguls and common to all the L1s. ;All bar two of the class carried this livery  - 1753 & 1782 were the exceptions -  31756 retained it until 1953.
The design and introduction of Maunsell's L class 4-4-0 smacks, in modern-day terminology, of creative accountancy as his vastly more capable N15 class was already in production and destined for the Kent coast express turns in addition to which his Lord Nelson prototype was about to undergo rigorous road testing with the intention that they would be used on the same routes. However, there was an outstanding works order for 15 express engines still on the books from the time of the grouping in 1923 and he obviously considered that there was a dire need for Kentish motive power to supplement the existing fleet until the Arthur and Nelson projects were successfully completed.

The L1s bore a strong resemblance to his rebuilds of the Ds and Es and visually owed much, as usual, to the Derby influence at Ashford during his tenure. There was no capacity available for the construction of these engines and so the entire building project was contracted out to the North British Locomotive Company who delivered all 15 of the class during 1926.

They proved, in common with his other 4-4-0 rebuilds, to be reliable, strong locomotives and all survived in service well beyond 30 years with the last survivor, 31786, being retained until 1962  - slightly longer than the rest of the class -  for use on a couple of enthusiasts' railtours early in that year.

Due to a lack of capacity in the design department the class was little different from the L class siblings and had only a slightly higher tractive effort with the main differences being of the cosmetic variety. The N class smokebox and chimney, a side-window cab and the mogul tender were the only significant external technical changes from the L class. During the long and fruitful life of the L1 class the only obvious changes were the removal of the smokebox-mounted snifter valves and changes of number and livery.

Nº31753 is in splendid fettle with commendably clean BR lined black livery and burnished wheel rims.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

31784 Another, later, photograph of Nº31786, this time taken at Nine Elms.

photograph: Mike Morant collection


Technical Details

  • Introduced: 1926
  • Driving Wheel: 6 ft 8 ins
  • Bogie Wheel: 3 ft 7 ins
  • Length: 56 ft 75/8 ins
  • Total Weight: 98 tons 6 cwt
  • Coal Capacity: 5 tons
  • Water Capacity: 3,500 gals
  • Cylinders (2): 191/2 in x 26 in
  • Boiler Pressure: 180 lb sq in
  • Tractive Effort: 18,910 lb
  • Power Classification: 3-P
Original Nº SR Nº # BR Nº Build date Withdrawn
A 753 1753 31753 1926 Oct 1961
A 754 1754 31754 1926 Nov 1961
A 755 1755 31755 1926 Aug 1959
A 756 1756 31756 1926 Oct 1961
A 757 1757 31757 1926 Dec 1961
A 758 1758 31758 1926 Oct 1959
A 759 1759 31759 1926 Nov 1961
A 782 1782 31782 1926 Feb 1961
A 783 1783 31783 1926 Nov 1961
A 784 1784 31784 1926 Feb 1960
A 785 1785 31785 1926 Jan 1960
A 786 1786 31786 1926 Feb 1962
A 787 1787 31787 1926 Jan 1961
A 788 1788 31788 1926 Jan 1960
A 789 1789 31789 1926 Nov 1961
# This class entered service prior to the SR's renumbering scheme and so, like their pre-grouping
relatives, they sported SECR numbers with the 'A' prefix thereby indicating their Ashford origins.

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This page was last updated 30th April 2011

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