Only eight P Class locomotives were built by the SE&CR. Nigel Burkin tells about these delightful engines and the resulting OO-gauge model by Hattons Model Railways.
Only eight of the delightful P Class 0-6-0T locomotives were constructed by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SE&CR): two in 1909 and the remainder in 1910, making it a small class even by pre-group standards.
Intended for light weight passenger trains, they were found to be under-powered and less than successful than the Terrier locomotives to which they owed many of their design features. The P Class was soon allocated to station pilot and shunting duties which better suited the design.
However, what they lacked in power, they made up for in looks and despite the small number in the class and lack of power, they lasted well into the BR era, featured some interesting design differences within the eight locomotives and were adorned with a number of different and sometimes complex liveries too.
Numbering was interesting and became a little convoluted as time went on. The SE&CR allocated unused but random numbers from its fleet list. The first two locomotives were numbered 753 and 754 while the remaining six were allocated numbers 27, 178, 323, 325, 555 and 558.
To make matters interesting, the first two were renumbered by the SR to No. 556 and No. 557, together with the addition of A-prefix to the remainder, a feature which was later dropped by the SR. The Southern Railway subsequently added 1000 to the already loose numbering system!
All eight locomotives came under the ownership of BR upon nationalisation which added 30000 to the numbers. For example, one of the review models, BR No. 31027 is actually SE&CR No. 27 which became A27 and subsequently SR No. 1027 before BR added 30000!
Withdrawals commenced in 1955, with the last locomotive being retired in 1961. Four of the eight locomotives, including one of the 1909-build, have been preserved, including Nos. 27, 178, 323 and 753. The first three reside on the Bluebell Railway in either operational form or undergoing restoration.
No. 753 can be found under restoration on the Kent & East Sussex Railway. Hatton’s Model Railways very kindly sent two models in for review: H4-P-007 BR No. 31027 (SE&CR No. 27) and H4-P-012 No. 323 Bluebell, representing the P Class in modern preservation.
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