Maunsell U class 2-6-0

A three cylindered version of the class - the U1 class - was also built between 1928 to 1931 with one, A890, being a conversion of the solitary three cylindered K1 class 2-6-4T.

Throughout the life of the class there were detail differences underlining the need for modellers to obtain a good photograph of a specific engine. As originally built the class had piston tail rods, tapered chimneys and smokebox snifting valves. As with the N class the tail rods and snifting valves were removed and new chimneys of the U1 pattern fitted. Later builds of the class had a flatter top to their dome covers. Short smoke deflectors were fitted, as with all Maunsell Moguls, from 1933. The class either hauled 3500 gallon capacity tenders with straight sides or larger 4000 gallon tenders with turned in tops to their sides. From 1955 twenty three of the class were fitted with varying combinations of new cylinders with outside steam pipes and a BR pattern chimney. A fewer number also received new frames with a gentler curve between the buffer beam and smokebox.

U Class An unidentified U Class is obviously in what is popularly known as Clapham Cutting, although the location is, strictly speaking, Wandsworth. Nice rake of Maunsell stock behind her.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Another unidentified U Class photographed in July 1952 near to Balcombe. She has an interesting collection of stock in tow!

photograph: Mike Morant collection

U Class
NºA629 was for two years fitted with an experimental pulverised fuel burner of German design. This was not a success and was abandoned after it was found there was no fuel saving and that powdered coal was potentially explosive. In 1948 two of the class, 1625 and 1797, were experimentally operated as oil burners. Further members of the class were designated for conversion before the experiment was abandoned.

Although perhaps an unsung and unglamorous class the Us performed well doing exactly what they were designed to do. The first withdrawal was in 1962 with the final withdrawals being in 1966.

31628 Nº31628 photographed at Ashford during the early 1960s.

photograph by John Roffey

Nº31633 is about to depart from Betchworth and tackle the gradient immediately beyond the level crossing, with a train from Reading to Redhill. The U and N class 2-6-0s worked the bulk of services on this cross-country route although Standard Class 4 2-6-4Ts and 2-6-0s were also seen regularly and Q and Q1 class freight locomotives also appeared occasionally on passenger turns.

photograph by Keith Harwood

31616 This location would confuse just about anybody but it's actually Sutton with the railing in the background marking the considerable drop into the cutting containing the line to Wimbledon. The train doesn't look to be anything special but it is as Nº31616 is working what is almost certainly the very last steam hauled trip goods to work along that line and is seen heading back home to Norwood Junction.

photograph by Mike Morant
(from his back garden!)

Nº31639, the last "U" to be built, at Deepdene.

photograph by Keith Harwood

31639 A portrait of frost, smoke and steam!
Nº31639 heading the "Maunsell Commemorative" rail tour of 3rd January 1965, with Q Class 30545 attached to the rear. Photographed from a footbridge at a point just after the train had left the main line en route for Merton Park and Tooting Goods, the washing on the lines in the background would have been as stiff as boards with frost - and pretty grubby too by the look of the exhaust!

photograph by Mike Morant

A last look at Nº31639, this time at Bentley on 9th January 1966 when she hauled the LCGB's "S15 Commemorative" tour from Bentley to Bordon and return, the first of two on consecutive weekends.

photograph by Ray Soper


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This page was last updated 21 February 2008

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