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.

Model Rail (UK) - - Contents -

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.

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