Stroudley's famous Terriers survived for decades after more modern designs had been scrapped, working on lightly laid Branch lines. Here these diminutive engines were often the only engines light enough to cross some particular bridge. In later years "Stepney" was particularly associated with the Hayling Island branch, until sold to the Bluebell Railway in May 1960 as our first locomotive.
Repainted into Stroudley's famous "Improved Engine Green" gamboge livery, seen above, it has been a favourite of many children, and some of those children are now introducing their own children to "Stepney the Bluebell Engine". In spite of its fame, "Stepney" has spent considerable periods out of traffic in its forty years on the Bluebell, but its popularity always causes it to bounce back to the top of the railway's priorities.
In 2010 a rapid overhaul of "Stepney" saw it back in steam for the 50th Anniversary of hauling its first train on the Bluebell in May 1960. It has been repainted into the black (lined with red) livery it carried 50 years ago in the Bluebell Railway's first season, and will be repainted again into its traditional Stroudley Golden Ochre at some point soon. Stepney then remained available for limited service until its main steam pipe failed in early 2014. At its next major overhaul it will require new cylinders, the castings for which are already to hand, significant work on the frames and major boiler work.
Our Children's Club, The Stepney Club is for children up to 8 years old.
Stepney in the 1960s.
Stepney in 1909
See also Dave Searle's page of photos of Stepney.
Class Introduced: 1872
Designer: William Stroudley
Total number built: 50 (10 still survive)
Built: 1875, Brighton Works, as Class A1
Rebuilt: to class A1X, 1912
Numbers carried: 55, 655, B655, 2655, 32655
Arrived on Bluebell Railway: 17 May 1960
Length: 26ft 1/2 in
Weight: 28 Tons 5 cwt
Water capacity: 500 Gallons
Coal capacity: 18cwt (approx.)
Boiler Pressure: 150 lb/sq.in
Driving Wheels: 4ft diameter
Cylinders: (2, inside) 12" x 20"
Tractive Effort: 7,650 lbs
Engine Brake: Vacuum
BR power classification: 0P
The first batch of Terriers were started in 1872, and the building program lasted until 1880. So they first started running in 1872, and some are still running today, over a century and a quarter later. You are possibly not really concerned about current locations, nor probably even about 1872 locations, but the latter has a lot of bearing on the reasons for their being built in the first place.
When Stroudley came to office on the LBSCR in the beginning of 1870, he found a situation where there was very little in the way of standardisation among the loco stock of the LBSCR. Indeed the assortment of locomotives were by no means a match for the work that they had to do. He perceived the need for a small range of standard locos and in the following 15 years produced such a range, some 8 or so standard loco classes. This approach was very forward looking for the time and pre-dated similar concepts on the GWR by some 30 years, and Bulleid's concept by some 70 years. The class A, 'Terriers', were the smallest in the range, and were intended to be used for lightweight, block trains, particularly in the south London area, where the trackwork was of light construction, with poor foundation. The 'Terriers' were built as an integral part of the whole, the block train, trains of 5, 7 or even 9, similar 4-wheel coaches, permanently coupled. They (the coaches) had no intermediate buffers, or conventional draw hooks, but used close coupling bars between coaches. The 'Terriers' were built with 150lb boiler and 12 X 20 inch cylinders. Most were rebuilt with slightly larger boilers without in any way spoiling their appearance.
The 'Terrier' was so successful, compared with the heterogeneous collection of Craven locos running on the LBSCR, that more were built than were actually needed for the London area. So their migration to the country parts of the LBSCR started.
As time passed, and we move to the 1880s and 1890s, the trackwork in the London area became much improved, and the suburban traffic became much heavier. Soon more powerful locos were needed for these trains, and this need was ably filled by another of Stroudley's standards, the D class 0-4-2T. The dispersal of the 'Terriers' was made to most outlying sheds on the LBSCR, as most of them had locals services of the kind that suited the small 'Terrier' well.
In total 50 were built, but by the end of the century (the 19th!), the need for so many had been reduced. Not only that, but after 30 years of intensive working, many of these small engines were literally worn out, and a large proportion were scrapped in the first few years of the 20th century (11 in 1901-1904) and several sold off. It was proposed to scrap the rest, but with the introduction of 'motor-trains' (push-pull to some ears), the 'Terriers' were found to be useful (as also were many D1 0-4-2Ts). For this use, new boilers were fitted, and other modifications carried out, and so the 'Terrier' became an A1X. Many had been sold to private industrial users and other railways over the previous 10 years or so, and continued to be so. This included 2 to the LSWR for use on the Lyme Regis branch, to the SECR (the much-wandered 'Waddon', now encapsulated in a cold and dank shed in Montreal, Canada), and to lesser lines.
Over time, the numbers dwindled through scrapping, but the Southern in 1923 inherited a still-substantial number. By then, their use had almost exclusively been on branch lines on the Brighton section, and on SR-acquired branch lines on the IOW, and to use as shed pilots at some of the bigger sheds. The Southern put them to use on some ex-SECR branches, but continued with the slow withdrawal campaign (eg No.42 'Tulse Hill' in 1925). In the latter withdrawal phase, the much beloved 'Stepney' was also withdrawn, but escaped the axe to be resuscitated for the Hayling Island branch, and subsequent life on the Bluebell.
Where would the future generations of train-lovers be without 'Stepney'?
Although BR inherited substantial numbers of 'Terriers' in 1948 for use on the IOW, KESR, Hayling Island branch, Brighton Works, Littlehampton wharf, and even on the GWR line at Weston , near Bristol, their days were numbered, as traffic on these lines dropped off with the spread of the motor car.
Besides the good fortune of the rise of the preservation movement just in time to rescue a few of the 'Terriers' directly from British Rail, some also had the good luck to become the 'playthings' of such enterprises as Butlins Holiday camps and Brickwoods the brewers, eventually migrating to the safety of preservation lines.
One of the best short histories of the class was the booklet 'The Brighton Terriers' by Colin Binnie, published in 1969 by The Ravensbourne Press. As well as excellent line drawings of 'Terriers', in whole and in their bits and pieces, the booklet has a potted history (up to 1969) of each one of the class. It is a fascinating history, and contributes to the almost-personification of some of the class. After perusing it for so many times, and building models of particular members of the class (in my case, scratch building No.65 'Tooting'), you tend to think of each one personally by its name. And so it should be!
Thanks are due to Mike Watts for his help in writing this article.