Present your case
If there’s a locomotive that you think needs to be offered ready-to-run, here’s the place to voice your opinion…
The place to voice your opinion on potential new models.
Locomotive: SECR ‘D’ 4-4-0
Proposed by: Peter Clark, Canterbury
What is it?
We have been so well provided with new models in recent years that I hesitate to suggest yet another Southern steam class that disappeared more than 60 years ago. But a South Eastern & Chatham Railway
‘D’ class 4-4-0 is preserved at the National Railway Museum, and I hope to live long enough (I’m now 72) to see this most graceful of locomotives join the Bachmann ‘C’ 0-6-0 and Hornby ‘H’ 0-4-4T already available. I can still hear the ringing of their coupling rods!
The ‘Ds’ were penned by Harry Wainwright’s team to provide the newly formed South Eastern & Chatham Railway with a suitable locomotive stud for the 20th century. No expense was spared for the ‘top link’ express power – the ‘Ds’ became known as ‘Coppertops’ due to their fancy embellishments, which was a deliberate ploy to raise the railway’s beleaguered public profile. The SECR ordered 51 between 1901 and 1907.
One of the last jobs that Richard Maunsell instigated before he moved from SECR chief engineer to chief mechanical engineer of the new Southern Railway was to start to rebuild the ‘Ds’ with piston valves, larger boilers with Belpaire fireboxes, raised footplating and revised cab. It completely spoilt the look but provided a much more powerful machine.
The SECR/SR rebuilt 21 ‘Ds’ between 1921 and 1927 but they didn’t completely displace Wainwright’s original 4-4-0. The ‘Ds’, even with the duller Southern – and subsequently BR – livery, continued to bring beauty to the rails until 1956. The ‘D1s’ lasted until 1961.
What would make it viable?
These elegant machines were very familiar in Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Berkshire until 1956 (the last ones ended their days on the Redhill-reading line) and, although no longer on front line express passenger duties by then, hauled hop pickers’ specials, crosscountry trains and inter-regional services, as well as local trains on many lines.
But they fit into more than Southern layouts. Midland modellers could replicate No. 31577’s ramblers’ excursion to Bedfordshire, while Western aficionados would surely want to model No. 31075’s visit to Cambrian metals when it hauled a Talyllyn Railway Society AGM special.
The ‘Ds’ looked wonderful in the full glory of the Wainwright SECR livery, but Southern olive green and even BR lined black also suited them well.
Can I see a real one?
No. 737 is currently on display in the great Hall at the National Railway Museum.