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LBSCR Classes H1 and H2 "Atlantic" 4-4-2

photographs: Dave Searle collection.

Class H1 N°40 (later to be St Catherine's Point) with the later 'LBSC' livery and below a close-up view of the design on the splashers.

When the London Brighton and South Coast Railway needed a new Locomotive Superintendent in 1904 they turned to Douglas Earle Marsh, the then Chief Assistant to Harry Ivatt on the Great Northern Railway. Prior to this Marsh had begun his career under no less a person than William Dean of the Great Western Railway where he had risen to the position of Assistant Works Manager at Swindon in only eight years. During his time at Doncaster Marsh had been heavily involved with the design of the first of the large Great Northern Atlantics so it was hardly surprising that immediately he assumed office at Brighton and found he needed a new large express engine that he set about designing a very similar machine, the 'H1' class Atlantic. The outward similarity was very noteable with just the footplate undulations, the chimney and the cab (standard RJ Billinton fittings) differing from the GNR example. The undulations referred to were a rise over the driving wheels and then again a similar rise over the cylinders.

The boiler, at 5' 6" inches in diameter with a 6' 6" long and 5' 11" wide firebox, was far larger than anything the Brighton company had built previously. It differed from the GNR '251' class in that the firebox was deeper but with the same grate area and with the working pressure at 200 lb sq in in place of 175. Cylinder sizes differed with 18½ in x 26 in fitted to 37, 38 and 40 whilst 39 and 41 had ones of 19 in diameter. These compared with the GNR locomotives' 18¾ x 24 in cylinders. The coupled wheels were 6' 7½" with wheelbase of 6' 10", exactly the same as on the Great Northern.

In 1911, the last year of Marsh's reign at Brighton, there was a need for further large express engines so five more Atlantics were built. These 'H2' class locomotives were very similar to the 'H1' class but were superheated and had larger cylinders with the boiler pressure reduced to 170 lb sq in. The footplates were less undulatory with the raised section covering the whole area from the cylinders to the driving wheels.

Marsh had plans for another locomotive to be built as a four cylinder engine, but in the event Lawson Billinton built it in 1912 as a sixth 'H2' class

The superheating of the subsequent 'H2' class was so successful that in later years the Southern Railway superheated the 'H1's, though it has been said that even when saturated these earlier engines performed better than the 'H2's. The Southern Railway also reduced the contours of the chimney, dome and cab, in a sympathetic manner, and gave all the locos in the two classes names, re-naming La France as Hartland Point in the process.

Electrification took away much of the work of these engines but they still managed to make themselves useful. The 'H2's were to be found on the secondary routes from London to Brighton via Shoreham (approx 2½ hours,) via Uckfield and via the Bluebell line (approx 3 hours, but with a "beer stop" at East Grinstead!). After WWII they and 'H1' 2038 found a new lease of life working the Newhaven boat trains, a duty they performed particularly well. From 15 May 1949 the principal boat train duties were handed over to the Bulleid-Raworth electric locos, but the Atlantics continued to haul the majority of relief boat trains.

Other workings synonymous with the H2s were the heavy rush hour trains from Victoria to East Grinstead, the Brighton to Plymouth service which they hauled as far as Portsmouth and the inter-regional, summer Saturday services which they collected at either Kensington Olympia or Mitre Bridge. That was always an odd sight because the stock was of the Stanier variety in blood & custard livery. They were heavy trains, too, like the Newhaven ones.

They were known to stray further afield on rare occasions, indeed there is a report of one seen on the Brighton-Plymouth train at Yeovil Junction, possibly the furthest west they worked.

The last of the Atlantics to survive was N°32424 Beachy Head whose swansong was an enthusiasts' special over the route she had made her own - to Newhaven - on 13th April 1958, before going to Brighton loco shed for the very last time. Her final journey was to Eastleigh for withdrawal, not only under her own steam but also with a 12 coach ECS behind her.

It is noteworthy that not only was Beachy Head the last of the Brighton Atlantics, she was also the last surviving British Railways express locomotive of that wheel arrangement and it is a crime that none was preserved. However, with a new-build advancing at the Bluebell Railway (utilising a GNR Atlantic boiler) it should not be all that long before we can travel behind a Brighton Atlantic 4-4-2 locomotive once more.

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  • H1 37
    Class H1 N°37 at Lewes with the early 'LB&SCR' on her tender. Note the footplate that is raised over the driving wheels, then again over the cylinders.
    Photograph: Dave Searle collection.
  • H2 421
    H2 class N°421 in photographic grey and sporting the LB&SCR livery. The difference in the footplates is all too obvious between this photograph and the previous ones.
    Photograph: Dave Searle collection.
  • H2 425
    N°425 in the later LBSC guise. Note the use of lamps rather than discs in this photograph.
    Photograph: Dave Searle collection.
  • H2 424
    With Pullman
    Class H2 N°424 Beachy Head withn a Pullman working in LB&SCR days.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • H2 2424
    N°2424 Beachy Head awaiting departure from Victoria during Southern Railway days. As well as the difference in the footplate when compared with the H1s, note too that the cylinders, which are larger than on the H1 class, are set higher and inclined at a slight angle.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • H2 2425
    N°2425 Trevose Head also photographed awaiting departure from Victoria.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • H1 2039
    Sleeve Valves
    H1 Atlantic N°2039, now named Hartland Point, during late Southern Railway/early British Railways days whilst she was being used as a test bed for Bulleid's sleeve valve design for his Leader project. She is also fitted with an experimental large diameter chimney and multiple jet blast pipe. The fireman (shown sitting) in this photograph was Dennis Taylor but the identity of the driver is unknown.
    We were sent this photograph by Dennis Taylor's son, Geoff, who would be very pleased if he could correspond with anyone who may have known his father. Dennis was first based at Brighton and later moved to Epsom. Geoff would also be grateful for the opportunity to correspond with anyone who had experience of working on the Brighton line in the 1940s.
    If you can assist please make contact via the .
    Photograph courtesy of Geoff Taylor.
  • H2 32424
    32424 Beachy Head, photographed at Brighton but date unknown. It would appear that the tender still bears the legend "SOUTHERN". This loco was destined to be the final survivor of the class, remaining in service until April 1958.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • H2 32421
    Oxted train
    N°32421 South Foreland, between Clapham Junction and Wandsworth Common in very early British Railways days. The ambient lighting and shadows indicate that this is an evening train and the headcode 18 indicates an Oxted line service.
    Note that although the locomotive has the number 32421 on the cabside, the tender still bears the legend "SOUTHERN" and the front number is still on the buffer beam, not yet on the smokebox door.
    The first coach set is Maunsell 3 set N°225, originally built for the Bognor/Portsmouth line in 1932 and subsequently withdrawn in 1959..
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • H2 32421
    N°32421 South Foreland at Eastleigh in 1950, wearing the early British Railways crest.
    Photograph by Colin Williams.
  • H2 32422
    N°32422 North Foreland in rather grubby early BR livery with BRITISH RAILWAYS only just discernable on her tender.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • H2 32425
    N°32425 Trevose Head photographed at Brighton Works on 19th October 1952 having arrived with the RCTS Works Centenarian special.
    Photograph by Derek Fairchild.
  • H2 32421
    N°32421 South Foreland at Brighton on 23rd June 1956. A few weeks later four of the last five H2s were lined up in the sidings opposite Gatwick Racecourse station.
    Photograph by Mike Morant.
  • H2 32426
    N°32426 St Albans Head in the same line of locos as the previous shot of N°32421. Note that all bar N°32424 of the surviving five H2s are in this shot. As the tender on the left is attached to N°32422 then the loco on the right must be N°32425.
    Photograph by Mike Morant.
  • H2 32425
    East Croydon
    N°32425 Trevose Head at East Croydon with what appears to have been the relief down Newhaven Boat Train. Date of photo not known.
    Photograph by Mike Morant.
  • H2 32425
    Bourne End
    N°32425 Trevose Head on foreign metals at Bourne End, Buckinghamshire with "The Riverside Special" on 29th July 1956. There was a second H2 there so, presumably, there was a relief Special!
    Photograph by Mike Morant.
  • H2 32424
    LCGB Southern Counties Limited of 24th February 1957. The last Marsh H2, N°32424 Beachy Head photographed at Sanderstead as she heads for East Grinstead and Horsted Keynes, which would be the end of her stint.
    PhotographMike Morant collection.
  • H2 32424
    Now seen taking water by Oxted's Signalbox, the Southern Counties Limited's imaginative itinerary had started out from Marylebone, of all places, with N°32424 taking over this duty at Kew East Junction from a pair of Robinson N5 0-6-2Ts.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • H2 32424
    N°32424 Beachy Head passing New Wandsworth goods yard with the Farewell Atlantic Tour on 13th April 1958. The 6-Pul/6-Pan has been diverted to the down slow line on this occasion!
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • H2 32424
    Some ten minutes after the previous photo Beachy Head storms over the brow of the hill from Streatham Common and into Norbury station with the Farewell Atlantic Tour.
    Photograph by Mike Morant.
  • H2 32424
    N°32424 Beachy Head's stint finished at Newhaven where Standard 4MT N°80154 took over for the leg to Brighton. Here both engines are seen at Newhaven MPD.
    Photograph by : Mike Morant collection.
  • H2 32425's
    The Atlantic's had their nameplates on the splashers of the trailing driving wheels. This one is 32425's.
    Photograph by Mike Morant.
  • H12040
    N°2040, St Catherine's Point after withdrawal in 1944, not looking any too pretty! This is the same locomotive seen above in her earlier guise as LB&SCR N°40.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • H2 32435
    A sad sight! N°32425 Trevose Head withdrawn and minus connecting and coupling rods, photographed at Slade Green where she was used from 30th December 1956 to April 1957 as a boiler to heat the electric depot while the permanent plant was being converted from coal to oil.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.

Technical Details


Driving Wheel:
Cylinders (2)
Boiler Pressure:
Tractive Effort:


Dec 1905
6 ft 7½ ins
37/38/40 18½ in x 26 in
39/41 19 in x 26 in
200 lb sq in
37/38/40 19,028 lb
39/41 20,070 lb


June 1911
6 ft 7½ ins
21 in x 26 in
170 lb sq in
20,840 lb


LBSC N° SR N° # BR N° Name Built Withdrawn
Selsey Bill
Portland Bill
La France*/Hartland Point
St Catherine's Point
Peverill Point
South Foreland
North Foreland
The Needles
Beachy Head
Trevose Head
St Albans Head
Dec 1905
Dec 1905
Jan 1906
Feb 1906
Feb 1906
Jun 1911
Jul 1911
Sep 1911
Sep 1911
Dec 1911
Jan 1912
Jul 1951
Jul 1951
Feb 1951
Jan 1944
Mar 1944
Aug 1956
Sep 1956
May 1949
Apr 1958
Sep 1956
Aug 1956
# Between 1923 and 1928 SR numbers were the LBSC numbers with the added prefix 'B'
* Named La France from Jun 1913 to Jan 1926 following its use on the train for a State visit of the French President.
Also N°39 was the only H1 or H2 to carry a name in LBSC days.

This page was last updated 9 July 2020

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