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If there’s a lo­co­mo­tive that you think needs to be of­fered ready-to-run, here’s the place to voice your opin­ion…

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The place to voice your opin­ion on po­ten­tial new mod­els.

Lo­co­mo­tive: SECR ‘D’ 4-4-0

Gauge: ‘OO’

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.

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