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SECR Maunsell N Class 2-6-0

photograph: digitally restored from the David Lord collection

outhern engine NºA862 is pictured on shed at Nine Elms

The N Class was designed by Richard Maunsell, CME of the SECR, to be a modern powerful mixed traffic locomotive to replace the regular double heading undertaken by smaller and older loco classes. Design work started in 1914 but was delayed by the Great War. The first prototype, number 810, did not emerge from Ashford until July 1917. Southern fans need to be uncomfortably aware that this design was heavily influenced by GWR thinking, due to the recruitment by the SECR of Harry Holcroft from Swindon.

In extended trials the design proved to be so successful that following abortive attempts by the Association of Railway Locomotive Engineers to produce standard loco classes for use by all British railway companies, the government adopted the standards idea and selected the type to be produced by the former munitions factory at the Woolwich Arsenal as an alternative to closing the factory once it's wartime function was no longer required.

Ashford works themselves did not move quickly producing the class, with only 15 locos emerging (up to 825) until December 1923 - number 822, was built as the prototype three cylindered version to be known as the N1 class.

Meanwhile the Woolwich Arsenal produced kits of parts, however after the government abandoned its attempt to nationalise the railways there were few takers (the nationalised railway was due to receive 100 of the class). Those companies which did buy the "kits" were the G.S.& W.R. of Ireland (Maunsell's native railway) , the Metropolitan Railway, and the newly formed Southern Railway which seized the opportunity to pick up the parts for 50 engines at a bargain price. These 50 were assembled at Ashford, were numbered A826 to A875 in the Southern list, and this sub-class of the Ns was nicknamed by their footplatemen "Woolworths" (a contortion of Woolwich). NºA866 was put on display at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley from May to November 1925, as Southern Railway Nº866.

The first 65 of the class were built with the standard SECR right hand drive, however a further 15 engines numbered 1400 to 1414 were built between 1932 and 1934, with U1 Chimneys and domes (U1 domes were lower), 4000 gallon tenders with a step in their footplate, and some of this batch had the by-then Southern standard left hand drive (note that in written accounts the number of locos which received left hand drive differs between authors, so as always work from a good photograph if you want an accurate model).

Changes to details and modifications happened throughout the class' lifetime. Some of the most pertinent points have been summarised by SREmG member Tony Harker:

  • Stovepipe chimneys were fitted to 812 in 1921 and to 817 & 819 when built. 818 received the stovepipe chimney from 819 sometime before 1923. Later, about 1926/7, they were replaced by parallel types.
  • Immediately after the Grouping all locos were painted sage green, (Urie LSWR Green) repainted into (Maunsell) olive after 1931.
  • During 1939, 1413 & 1850 were painted Olive green with no lining. Others were painted black but only when necessary, i.e. after a major overhaul, etc.
  • Between 1939 and 1941 1821/25/47/78 & 1403 were painted Maunsell Green with Bulleid gilt lettering unlined. Two engines received Malachite green in 1946, 1817 & 1854. Lining was yellow edged in black with "Sunshine" style lettering, not gilt.
  • All Ns were painted black by the end of the war. It is not known if Bulleid or Maunsell style lettering was applied in general to wartime liveried Ns, but 1831 carried Bullied style (this loco was converted to oil burning during 1947 and converted back in 1948).
  • When built all engines had smokebox mounted snifting valves. These were removed during the war or just after.
  • Engines built before 1930 had piston tail rods - these were removed in 1933 when front steps were fitted. Engines built by the SR, i.e. 1400 and later, had front steps from new.
  • Some locos ran with tail rods and front steps for a while, e.g. 1824.
  • In 1933, experimental Marshall valve gear and motion was fitted to 1850. It was found to be unsuccessful and removed in April 1934 after the loco failed.
  • Two types of smoke deflector were fitted to the class in 1933, some had a vertical handrail with a round handhole, but most had a horizontal handrail with a rectangular handhole.
  • In 1930/31 A816 was extensively modified with a steam condensing apparatus for trial. This trial lasted until mid 1935 when it was rebuilt into "normal" N at Eastleigh so it will have been re-painted in dark olive. It's chimney was replaced by a U1 type.
  • From 1955 until 1961, 29 engines were re-cylindered. In some cases the frames were replaced but others only had the front end renewed. Outside steampipes were fitted for the new cylinders. Some engines, e.g. 31848, ran for a while with the smoke deflectors removed. From 1957 some locos received BR Class 4 chimneys, e.g. 31412 which had a new chimney (but not new cylinders).
  • Steam Heating hoses were removed during the Summer and were sent to Eastleigh for testing! Was this general for all SR locos?

The N Class was a reliable locomotive used throughout the SR network over a wide range of duties from semi fast passenger duties to pick-up goods. Their high capacity boilers, small coupled wheels, and free steaming characteristics delivered considerable traffic effort that was much in evidence when the class excelled itself hauling heavy loads during World War Two. The class migrated from the SR Eastern section to work additionally on the Central and Western sections, and in their latter BR(S) days continued to excel on passenger and goods duties in the West Country. Withdrawals were between 1962 to 1966.

Drawings of the N Class are in "Southern Locomotives to Scale" by Ian Beattie, pub. D. Bradford Barton, ISBN 0 85153 389 2, but these are not accurately to 4mm scale (1/76), and the March 1996 edition of Railway Modeller page 119 which are more accurate. Weight diagrams are available in "Maunsell Locomotives" by Brian Haresnape , ISBN 0 7110 0734 8 and "A Pictorial Record of Southern Locomotives" by JH Russell Published by BCA/OPC (no ISBN given). These drawings are near enough to scale. No detailing is shown however.

Close relatives of the N Class were the 3 cylinder version N1 Class, the ill-fated K Class 2-6-4T "River" tanks (which were contemporaries of the N), and the U and U1 classes.

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  • 820
    Kingswood
    N Class Nº820, bearing the headboard "Race Special, 27" seen with an eight car train of SECR Crimson Lake liveried Pullmans near Kingswood in 1920.
    Photograph: Steve Roffey collection.
  • A816
     
    NºA816 is seen fitted with a new funnel during early SR days.
    Photograph digitally restored from the David Lord collection.
  • 1850
    Eastleigh
    This photograph of Nº1850 in Eastleigh paint shop was taken in February 1934 and shows the locomotive fitted with Marshall valve gear and indicator shelters. The experiment with the Marshall valve gear was quite short-lived as although successful at slow speeds it "knocked" when near 50-55 m.p.h and, ideed, disintegrated when at speed near Woking.
    The Walschaerts valve gear was replaced at Brighton and the loco returned to traffic in "normal" guise on 11th April 1934.
    Photograph: Steve Roffey collection.
  • 1402
    Bournemouth
    A nice shot of olive green liveried Nº1402 on Bournemouth shed in 1933.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 1828
    Okehampton
    N Class Nº1828 photographed in the platform at Okehampton station.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 31411
    Chichester
    N class Nº31411 at Chichester, 6th July 1958, on a Portsmouth - Victoria van train, one of several which then ran along the coast en-route to London. In those days the stop at Chichester was mainly to load GPO parcels bags and flowers - the latter was a huge traffic then.
    Photograph by Trevor Tupper.
  • 31841
    Braunton
    Nº31841 pauses at Braunton on 6th August 1960.
    Photograph by John Bradbeer.
  • 31845
    Halwill
    Nº31845 waits at Halwill as T9 class 30709 runs in with a train for Padstow and Bude on 21st April 1960.
    Photograph reproduced with kind permission of Joanes Publications.
  • 31832
    Port Isaac Rd
    N class Nº31832 with an up goods train arrives at Port Isaac Road on 6th September 1961.
    Photograph reproduced with kind permission of Joanes Publications.
  • 31817
    Gomshall
    Nº31817 with a train near Gomshall during 1961.
    Photograph: A. E. Durrant/Mike Morant collection.
  • 31870
    Deflectors
    This slightly unusual head-on shot of Nº31870 shows just how much of a gap there was between the smokebox and the smoke deflectors!
    Photograph by John Roffey.
  • 31870
    Ashford
    Nº31870 captured on shed at Ashford in the early 1960s.
    Photograph by John Roffey.
  • 31837
    Bude
    Nº31837 waits for her allotted departure time at Bude sometime during the early 1960s.
    Photograph by John Bradbeer.
  • 31815
    Eridge
    A late evening photograph of N Class 2-6-0 Nº31815 hauling a Maunsell set at Eridge. The public timetable probably showed that the train was destined for Tunbridge Wells West or Tonbridge but the headcode suggests that it will work through to Redhill via Edenbridge.
    Photograph by Keith Harwood.
  • 31833
    Three Bridges
    Nº31833 at Three Bridges. Behind is Q Class Nº30549.
    Photograph by Keith Harwood.
  • 31869
    Eastleigh
    N class Nº31869, photographed at Eastleigh on 23 August 1964.
    Photograph by Ray Soper.
  • 31410
    Oxted
    N class Nº31410 arrives at Oxted with a heavy business train from London.
    Photograph by Keith Harwood.
  • 31832
    Three Bridges
    N class Nº31832 at Three Bridges, with H Class Nº31005 alongside.
    Photograph by Keith Harwood.
  • 31827
    Dorking Town
    N class Nº31827 at Dorking Town.
    Photograph by Keith Harwood.
  • 31871
    Betchworth
    Nº31871 and a rake of Maunsell carriages calls at the attractive Betchworth station with a train from Redhill to Reading. The original South Eastern Railway stationmaster's house, which contained the signalbox at ground floor level, can be seen in the background.
    Photograph by Keith Harwood.
  • 31408
    "70C"
    N class Nº31408 with a 70C shed number chalked on the smokebox.
    Photograph by Ray Soper.
  • 31825
    Redhill
    Nº31825 with a goods working at Redhill.
    Photograph by Mike Morant.
  • 31411
    Redhill
    Nº31411 turned out by Redhill shed in all her BR shiny lined black glory for The Wealdsman (LCGB) tour on 13th June 1965.
    Photograph by Mike Morant.
  • 31816
    Redhill
    Nº31816 photographed at Redhill.
    Photograph by Keith Harwood.

Technical Detrails

Introduced:
Driving Wheel:
Pony Wheel:
Length:
Total Weight:
Water Capacity:
Cylinders (2):
Boiler Pressure:
Tractive Effort:
Coal Capacity:
BR Power Classification:
1917
5 ft 6 ins
3 ft 1 in
57 ft 95/8 ins
103 tons 12 cwt
4,000 gals
19 in x 28 in
200 lb sq in
26,035 lb
5 ton 0 cwt
4-P/5-F

Data

 
SECR/SR Nº when built SR Nº # BR Nº Builder Built Withdrawn
810 1810 # 31810 Ashford Aug 1917 Mar 1964
811 1811 # 31811 Ashford Jun 1920 Jul 1965
812 1812 # 31812 Ashford Aug 1920 Jul 1964
813 1813 # 31813 Ashford Sep 1920 Oct 1963
814 1814 # 31814 Ashford Nov 1920 Jul 1964
815 1815 # 31815 Ashford Dec 1920 May 1963
816 1816 # 31816 Ashford Jan 1922 Jan 1966
817 1817 # 31817 Ashford Jan 1922 Jan 1964
818 1818 # 31818 Ashford Mar 1922 Sep 1963
819 1819 # 31819 Ashford May 1922 Jan 1964
820 1820 # 31820 Ashford Aug 1922 Aug 1963
821 1821 # 31821 Ashford Oct 1922 May 1964
823 1823 # 31823 Ashford May 1923 Sep 1963
824 1824 # 31824 Ashford Aug 1923 Oct 1963
A825 1825 31825 Ashford Dec 1923 Aug 1963
A826 1826 31826 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jun 1924 Aug 1963
A827 1827 31827 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford May 1924 Jun 1964
A828 1828 31828 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jun 1924 Sep 1964
A829 1829 31829 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1924 Jan 1964
A830 1830 31830 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jun 1924 Jan 1964
A831 1831 31831 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jun 1924 Apr 1965
A832 1832 31832 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1924 Jan 1964
A833 1833 31833 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1924 Feb 1964
A834 1834 31834 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1924 Sep 1964
A835 1835 31835 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1924 Sep 1964
A836 1836 31836 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1924 Dec 1963
A837 1837 31837 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1924 Sep 1964
A838 1838 31838 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1924 Feb 1964
A839 1839 31839 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1924 Dec 1963
A840 1840 31840 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Aug 1924 Sep 1964
A841 1841 31841 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Aug 1924 Mar 1964
A842 1842 31842 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Aug 1924 Sep 1965
A843 1843 31843 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Aug 1924 Sep 1964
A844 1844 31844 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Sep 1924 Dec 1963
A845 1845 31845 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Sep 1924 Sep 1964
A846 1846 31846 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jan 1925 Sep 1964
A847 1847 31847 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Feb 1925 Sep 1963
A848 1848 31848 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Feb 1925 Feb 1964
A849 1849 31849 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Feb 1925 Jul 1964
A850 1850 31850 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Feb 1925 Jan 1964
A851 1851 31851 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Feb 1925 Aug 1963
A852 1852 31852 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Mar 1925 Sep 1963
A853 1853 31853 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Apr 1925 Sep 1964
A854 1854 31854 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Mar 1925 Jun 1964
A855 1855 31855 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Mar 1925 Sep 1964
A856 1856 31856 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Mar 1925 Jul 1964
A857 1857 31857 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Apr 1925 Jan 1964
A858 1858 31858 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Mar 1925 Dec 1965
A859 1859 31859 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Apr 1925 Sep 1964
A860 1860 31860 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Apr 1925 Oct 1963
A861 1861 31861 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jun 1925 May 1963
A862 1862 31862 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford May 1925 Apr 1965
A863 1863 31863 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford May 1925 Jul 1963
A864 1864 31864 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jun 1925 Jan 1964
A865 1865 31865 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jun 1925 Aug 1963
A866 * 1866 31866 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford May 1925 Jan 1966
A867 1867 31867 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1925 Jul 1963
A868 1868 31868 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1925 Jan 1964
A869 1869 31869 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1925 Aug 1964
A870 1870 31870 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1925 Apr 1964
A871 1871 31871 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Jul 1925 Dec 1963
A872 1872 31872 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Aug 1925 May 1963
A873 1873 31873 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Sep 1925 Jan 1966
A874 1874 31874 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Sep 1925 Mar 1964 *
A875 1875 31875 Woolwich Arsenal/Ashford Aug 1925 Aug 1964
  1400 31400 Ashford Jul 1932 Jun 1964
  1401 31401 Ashford Aug 1932 Jul 1965
  1402 31402 Ashford Aug 1932 Aug 1963
  1403 31403 Ashford Aug 1932 Jun 1963
  1404 31404 Ashford Oct 1932 Dec 1963
  1405 31405 Ashford Nov 1932 Jun 1966
  1406 31406 Ashford Jun 1933 Sep 1964
  1407 31407 Ashford Aug 1933 Jul 1963
  1408 31408 Ashford Sep 1933 Jun 1966
  1409 31409 Ashford Oct 1933 Nov 1962
  1410 31410 Ashford Nov 1933 Nov 1964
  1411 31411 Ashford Nov 1933 Apr 1966
  1412 31412 Ashford Dec 1933 Aug 1964
  1413 31413 Ashford Jan 1934 Jun 1964
  1414 31414 Ashford Jan 1934 Nov 1962
Between 1923 and 1928 SR numbers were the SECR numbers with the added prefix 'A'
although the new number may not have been applied until some time later
Exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition from May to November 1925 as Nº866
*  Preserved on the Mid-Hants Railway

This page was last updated 17 June 2020

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