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SR Maunsell "Lord Nelson" class 4-6-0

photograph: Mike Morant Collection

Nº30861 Lord Anson seen here in early BR livery.

Upon becoming the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the newly formed Southern Railway Richard Maunsell assessed the locomotive stock inherited from the pre-grouping companies and devised an improvement programme for types to be retained together with outline plans for a new range of locomotives to his own designs. As was becoming common at the time he proposed a range of "standard" locomotives to meet the future needs of the railway with a large degree of commonality of engineering design and parts. His top express passenger locomotive for the range was eventually to be called the Lord Nelson class.

Indeed he was set a tough challenge for this specification by the Chief Operating Manager because the future standard for main line express trains was to haul a load of 500 tons tare at a start-to-stop average speed of 55 m.p.h. on not only the South West section but also over the demanding to operate Eastern section. Maunsell set about this in a systematic fashion with development work and trials using modified locomotives, and evaluating and comparing the designs of other companies with the aim of producing what would be called today a "state of the art" locomotive. However first there was a pressing need for more express passenger locomotives for the expanded summer timetable of 1925 and this was met by construction of additional class N15 engines with an improved front end.

After considering various options the eventual specification called for a four cylinder 4-6-0 locomotive with cranks set at 135 degrees, the drive divided between the first two coupled axles, 6 ft 7 in diameter driving wheels, a boiler pressure of 220 lb psi and a tractive effort of 33500 lb - the highest of any British express passenger locomotive of the time. One original feature was the settings of the cranks led to eight power impulses per revolution in place of the normal four, leading to eight puffs to be heard for every turn of the wheels! This applied to all except the last of the class, 30865, which has the more normal four exhaust per revolution. A Belpaire firebox was employed and although a longer boiler had been considered earlier a boiler with tubes the same length as those employed on the N15 class was used. The fire grate was to be unique to the Southern (but not to another railway associated with Swindon) with the rear portion being horizontal and the front steeply inclined providing an area of 33 sq ft, the largest of any British locomotive of the time (although later exceeded by the GWR King class). Because the four cylinder design threatened to result in a locomotive heavier than the Civil Engineer's axle loading limit special care was taken in design and construction to keep the locomotive's weight to a minimum. High tensile steel was employed for the motion. Parts which would normally have been left as cast or forged were machined to remove excess metal and the frames were made as thin as practical with additional lightening holes. When constructed the prototype locomotive came out only 1 ton 1 cwt heavier than the N15 class so production models did not employ the latter two weight reducing factors. An increase of almost 33 percent tractive effort for only just over a 1 ton weight gain between the two classes is a tribute to the skilful design.

Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.
  • 858
    Lord Duncan
    Nº858 Lord Duncan at Bournemouth Central in Southern Railway days. On the left is departmental vehicle Nº710S.
    Photograph: Mike Morant Collection.
  • 30854
    Howard of Effingham
    Nº30854 Howard of Effingham in malachite at Waterloo in 1951 bearing the Southern Power Classification "A" on the cabside.
    Photograph: Robert Whitfield.
  • 30854
    Howard of Effingham
    Nº30854 Howard of Effingham in BR livery with all but the first vehicle of the train apparently in plum and spilt milk livery.
    Photograph: Mike Morant Collection.
  • 30861
    Lord Anson
    Nº30861 Lord Anson seen here in early BR livery.
    Photograph: Mike Morant Collection.
  • 30861
    Lord Anson
    Nº30861 again in the later "Cycling Lion" era livery at Waterloo on 24th March 1957.
    Photograph: Mike Morant Collection.
  • 30865
    Sir John Hawkins
    Nº30865 Sir John Hawkins prepares to leave Bournemouth Central with an inter-regional express which it will haul as far as Oxford. This, the last of the class, was the only LN to have the traditional four exhaust beats per revolution.
    Photograph: Mike Morant Collection.
  • 30851
    Sir Francis Drake
    Nº30851 Sir Francis Drake passing through Surbiton, date unknown.
    Photograph: Mike Morant Collection.
  • 30864
    Sir Martin Frobisher
    Nº30864 Sir Martin Frobisher at Bournmouth Central's up platform in the late 1950s.
    Photograph by Alan Morton.
  • 30856
    Lord St Vincent
    Nº30856 Lord St Vincent at Waterloo on 30th April 1961, now sporting the final BR steam crest.
    Photograph: Gerald T. Robinson/Mike Morant Collection.
  • 30850
    Lord Nelson
    First of the class Nº30850 Lord Nelson photographed at Swindon on 24th June 1962.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 30850
    Lord Nelson
    Now preserved as part of the National Collection, Lord Nelson is seen here on display at the Woking 150 event on the 30th May 1988.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.

Technical Details

Introduced: August 1926
Driving Wheel: 6 ft 7 ins
Bogie Wheel: 3 ft 1 in
Length: 69 ft 9¾ ins
Weight: 142 tons 6 cwt
Water Capacity: 5,000 gals
Cylinders (4): 16½ in x 26 in
Boiler Pressure: 220 lb sq in
Tractive Effort: 33,510 lb
Coal Capacity: 5 tons
Power Classification: 7-P


SR Nº BR Nº Name Date Built AWS Fitted Withdrawn
850 30850 Lord Nelson Aug 1926 Dec 1960 Aug 1962
851 30851 Sir Francis Drake May 1928 Sep 1960 Dec 1961
852 30852 Sir Walter Raleigh Jul 1928 Sep 1960 Feb 1962
853 30853 Sir Richard Grenville Sep 1928 Apr 1960 Mar 1962
854 30854 Howard of Effingham Oct 1928 Oct 1959 Sep 1961
855 30855 Robert Blake Oct 1928 Jun 1960 Oct 1961
856 30856 Lord St Vincent Nov 1928 Sep 1960 Sep 1962
857 30857 Lord Howe Dec 1928 Jul 1960 Sep 1962
858 30858 Lord Duncan Jan 1929 Oct 1959 Aug 1961
859 30859 Lord Hood Mar 1929 Sep 1959 Dec 1961
860 30860 Lord Hawke Dec 1929 Dec 1960 Aug 1962
861 30861 Lord Anson Sep 1929 Apr 1960 Oct 1962
862 30862 Lord Collingwood Oct 1929 May 1961 Oct 1962
863 30863 Lord Rodney Oct 1929 Oct 1959 Feb 1962
864 30864 Sir Martin Frobisher Nov 1929 Oct 1959 Jan 1962
865 30865 Sir John Hawkins Nov 1929 - May 1962
Lord Nelson class allocations by shed:
B - Bournemouth EJ - Exmouth Junc Dr - Dorchester
E - Eastleighh NE - Nine Elms SL - Stewarts Lane
30850 SL New EJ 3/30 SL 4/30 NE 27/2/40 B 24/2/43 E 8/1/49    
30851 NE New SL 6/32 NE 27/2/40 B 24/2/43 E 8/1/49      
30852 SL New NE 10/37 SL 18/10/38 NE 2/12/38 B 24/2/43 E 8/1/49    
30853 SL New NE 27/2/40 B 24/2/43 E 8/1/49        
30854 NE New SL 6/32 NE 27/2/40 B 24/2/43 E 8/1/49      
30855 NE New SL 6/32 NE 27/2/40 B 24/2/43 E 8/1/49 E 4/2/50    
30856 NE New SL 6/32 NE 10/37 SL 18/10/38 NE 27/2/40 B 31/5/48 NE 4/9/49 E 4/2/50
30857 NE New SL 6/32 NE 6/33 SL 13/11/37 NE 27/2/40 E 4/2/50    
30858 SL New NE 9/12/38 E 6/6/58          
30859 SL New NE 27/2/40 E 6/6/58          
30860 SL New NE 6/32 B 6/6/58 E 26/11/59        
30861 SL New NE 6/32 SL 2/12/38 NE 27/2/40 B 31/5/48 NE 4/9/49 E 5/6/56  
30862 SL New NE 6/32 SL 10/37 NE 18/10 38 B 6/45 NE 31/5/48 B 4/9/49 E 5/6/56
30863 SL New NE 18/10/38 SL 2/12/38 NE 27/2/40 B 6/45 NE 31/5/48 B 4/9/49 E 5/6/56
30864 SL New NE 13/11/37 B 6/45 Dr 13/5/54 B 31/10/54 E 26/11/59    
30865 SL New NE 6/32 SL 1/10/37 NE 13/11/37 B 26/4/45 Dr 13/5/54 B 31/10/54 E 26/11/59
Shed allocation data from "The Book of the Lord Nelson 4-6-0s" by Richard Derry, pub: Irwell Press, ISBN: 1-903266-59-9

This page was last updated 7 December 2020

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