For the first time ever, ready-to-run OO-scale models of the celebrated South Eastern & Chatham Railway D Class 4-4-0s are being produced by the partnership of Dapol, Rails of Sheffield and Locomotion Models.
During the Wainwright period, 51 locomotives were built in various batches at the SE&CR’s Ashford Works and by Sharp, Stewart & Co, Glasgow; Robert Stephenson, Newcastle; Dubs & Co, Glasgow and Vulcan Foundry, Leeds.
They were used on prime express trains to the Kent coast and Hastings, including boat trains for the continent via the Cinque Ports, and from delivery were painted in the gorgeous passenger livery of Brunswick green bordered with black and green bands and red and yellow lining.
The locomotives played an important part in troop and ambulance train movements between London, Dover and Folkestone during the First World War, and were also used on trains taking armoured vehicles to Richborough and other ports as the war advanced in Europe. Twenty-one of the class were rebuilt as D1 4-4-0s between April 1921 and October 1927, leaving 30 original locomotives in operation.
During the first years of the Southern Railway, the locomotives continued to appear on front-line express duties, but were gradually replaced by larger locomotives such as the ‘King Arthur’ 4-6-0s and L1 4-4-0s.
During the Second World War, with travel restrictions bringing a reduction in passenger traffic, many of the D Class locomotives were laid up. The first of the class was withdrawn in October 1944 because of wartime damage, and the last, under British Railways in 1956. The locomotive originally selected for preservation, and stored inside Ashford shed, was No. 31734, but when it was found to have defective frames and cylinders, it was replaced by No. 31737, which had been withdrawn from Guildford MPD in November 1956 having run 1,694,660 miles in traffic and was in virtually as-built condition.
After a year languishing outside Ashford Works, it was transferred to Tweedmouth MPD in Northumberland, and stored in the roundhouse there. It returned to Ashford Works on December 15 1959.
As the locomotive was intended only for static display at Clapham Museum, several replica fittings replaced the later-pattern ones such as lubricators, couplings, dome cover, safety valves and copper-capped chimney.
It arrived at Clapham Museum on June 27 1960, and along with other items removed from Clapham, after a period of storage it moved to the then-new National Railway Museum at York for its opening in 1975, becoming part of the National Collection. No. 737 featured in the railway scenes, filmed at York, for the 1981 film Chariots of Fire. No OO-scale ready-to-run ‘D’ has ever been produced before, and the model is based on the preserved No. 737 with the input of a team of expert museum and specialist modellers.
Seven versions are being produced: SECR No. 737, as preserved at York, semi-gloss finish (4S-027-NRM02); SECR No. 488 in pre-Grouping silk finish (4S-027-001); Southern No. 1730 in lined Maunsell – olive green (4S-027-002); BR Sunshine lettering as No. 31731 (4S-027-003); BR black, early crest as No. 31574 (4S-027-004); SECR grey, scraped beading as No. 726 (4S-027-005) and Southern Sunshine as No. 1734 (4S-027-006).
The models will have NEM coupling pockets, a Next-18 decoder socket, ‘pull-out’ PCB and solderless speaker (along with provision for customers to fit a bass reflex speaker in the tender) and a firebox flicker effect. The drawbar between the locomotive and tender will be of a new ‘pinless’ type carrying the electrical connection, and Dapol is the first manufacturer to use this type of drawbar on a British-outline OO-scale locomotive. Coupling the locomotive to its tender has to be done on a straight piece of track to enable them to be pushed together.