Masterclass: Dock shunters
Richard Foster presents a guide to the myriad hardy little locomotives that kept imports and exports flowing through Britain’s ports and fed the heart of an empire.
Richard Foster’s guide to the machines that kept goods moving through UK ports.
The docks and harbours of the British Isles have always played a crucial role for trade. That importance grew as the railway network developed, and major ports were transformed during the Victorian and Edwardian era as imports and exports grew.
All dock shunting locomotives shared one key feature: a short-coupled wheelbase to cope with the tight curves of dockside track. Designers also gave their dockside
locomotives large outside cylinders to provide plenty of power.
These characteristics might have been inspired by the dockside, but they were eminently suitable for all manner of locations, from marshalling yards to main works. Take Collett’s ‘1366’ 0-6-0PTS. They might have been designed for working Weymouth docks, but some class members soon found themselves shunting Swindon Works and, famously, later transferred to the Wenford Bridge branch where their power and short wheelbase made them ideal replacements for the ageing Beattie ‘Well Tanks’.
There’s been a glut of miniature dock shunters in recent years. It’s with this in mind that Model Rail presents a guide to the nation’s dock shunters – dock shunter Top Trumps if you will. Plus, we’ve included some useful tweaks to some of the most recent…
With a vessel in the background, ‘USA’ No. 30061 shunts a Western Region parcels van at Southampton Docks on May 17 1953.