Urie/Maunsell S15 class 4-6-0


S15 Nº30840 and sister engine at Feltham during 1963

Photograph by Keith Harwood

The S15 was the third of Robert Urie's 4-6-0 designs for the LSWR. (the other two being the H15 and the N15). Twenty were built at Nine Elms in 1920. Their appearance is very similar the N15 class and they shared many components including the 180 lb per sq in boiler and tender designs. Being designed for heavy goods work they had 5 ft 7 in diameter drivers and cylinders of 21 in diameter. Originally fitted with the Eastleigh superheater, these were replaced by ones of the Maunsell design between 1927 and 1932.

Nº515 had the distinction of twice being converted to oil firing, once in 1921 and once in 1926. On both occasions, though, she was restired to coal firing.

This photograph, taken about 1922, shows an unidentified S15, probably at Nine Elms, though possibly Feltham. It was sent to us by Ray Harrington-Vail and shows his grandfather, Gilbert Vail, on the ground second from the left.

photograph: Ray Harrington-Vail collection

Like their contemporaries the N15s further batches were built by the Southern Railway under the auspices of Richard Maunsell, and these builds also incorporated the revised front end and cab designs applied to the N15s, with the higher boiler pressure of 200 lb per sq in. Fifteen were built at Eastleigh in 1927/8 and a further ten in 1936. The first Eastleigh batch included engines for use on the Eastern and Central sections and some were fitted with six wheeled tenders for use where there were small turntables. Like the N15s over time tenders were swapped around not only within the class but also with N15s, the Schools class (which received their six wheeled tenders) and with the Lord Nelson class. Smoke deflectors were fitted to all of the class during the mid 1930s.

During 1942 four engines (496-9) were on loan to the GWR and whilst on that railway had a GWR shed code stencilled on the angle iron.

Enginemen A closer view of the personalities in the photograph!
Gilbert Vail was born in 1901 and died in 1949 having lived most of his life in Surbiton. On leaving school at 14 he went to work as an apprentice on the LSWR where was passed out as a fireman before leaving the railway in the 1920s to train as a motor fitter with Leyland. The men on the engine are believed to be the driver and fireman of this particular locomotive.
Is there any faint possibility that someone might know who the men other than Gilbert Vail are? Please advise the if you do.

photograph: Ray Harrington-Vail collection

Nº30508 at Guildford.

photograph by Keith Harwood

30500 Urie S15 Nº30500 depicted at Eastleigh in April 1963 with an ex-works U class Nº3163x buffered up to it. What was chalked on the tender is a mystery as it just cannot be deciphered!

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Nº30847, the last S15 and, indeed, the last 4-6-0 to be built by the Southern Railway, basks in the sun at Feltham. Initially an Exmouth Junction engine, 30847 moved to Salisbury in June 1951 and then to Redhill in July 1959 for 4 years before a final six months at Feltham. She is seen here in November 1963 not long before her withdrawal in January 1964. Now owned by the Maunsell Society, 30847 is based at the Bluebell Railway.

photograph by Keith Harwood

The modified design provided an excellent goods engine and they were best known for working heavy night express goods trains between Exeter and Nine Elms and Southampton and Nine Elms. They were also adaptable and were capable of putting up a creditable performance when pressed into passenger service during peak holiday periods. They outlived the King Arthur class, first withdrawals were in 1962 and the final members of the class were still in regular service in 1965. The last withdrawal, 30837, was in 1966. This had officially been withdrawn in 1965 but was retained to work an enthusiasts' special. Two Urie and five Maunsell S15s have survived into preservation.
30512 Urie S15 4-6-0 Nº30512 with the LCGB "The Hayling Farewell Rail Tour" of 3rd November 1963, photographed at Alton.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

It was not unusual to see predominantly freight locomotives working passenger services on the South Western main line. Here S15 Nº30838 is seen heading west through Raynes Park with a train of Bulleid coaching stock on a service from Waterloo to Southampton Terminus on 26th September 1964.

photograph by Keith Harwood


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This page was last updated 11 March 2008

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