LBSCR E4 / E4x Class


photograph: Mike Morant collection

E4 class NºB479 is seen here at an unknown location during early Southern Railway days.

One of RJ Billinton's early tasks during his tenure as Chief Locomotive Engineer was to finish the construction of Stroudley's "E Class Special" West Brighton 0-6-2T Goods, the first of 134 Brighton Radial Tanks, which led to sixteen more similar locomotives, all seventeen of which were designated Class E3. So successful were these locomotives when assigned to passenger duties rather than the goods duties for which they were intended that Billinton decided to build another version expressly for passenger train work. These, the E4 Class, started entering traffic in 1897 and were virtually the same as the earlier E3 Class but with driving wheels enlarged from 4' 6" to 5' and higher pitched 160lb pressure boilers.
2517 Nº2517 photographed at Tunbridge Wells West during the 1930s.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

The same locomotive captured on shed at Redhill as a grubby Nº32517 on 24th February 1951.

photograph by Les Darbyshire

Initially named and painted in Stroudley Goods Green, from loco Nº487 onwards they were turned out named and painted in Stroudley's Improved Engine Green, a yellow colour, with some of the older, green, locos subsequently being re-painted yellow, until 1906 when Marsh repainted them in dark umber and removed their names. Why they were at first painted in the Goods colour when they were expressly designed for passenger work is uncertain. One of the early locos, Nº469, was named "Beachy Head" and was the only one not to be named after a village or small town. This name was, of course, to be made famous in later years when applied by the Southern Railway to one of Marsh's H2 Class Atlantics.

32498 This wonderfully evocative photograph was taken at Nine Elms on 25th October 1961.

photograph by Alan Robinson

As time progressed and the locos came in for heavy overhaul they were fitted with 17½ in. cylinders in place of the original 18 in one. Then, in 1909, Marsh rebuilt three locos with new higher-pitched I2 pattern boilers of 170lb pressure, restored the 18 in cylinders (though not for long) and replacement smokeboxes mounted on a new saddle, to produce the E4x Class, with a fourth being so treated in 1911. Many other E4s were reboilered, as well as having other modifications, during their lives but not to the full E4x specification, which remained as a sub-class of just four.
Originally sent to work the London suburban passenger trains, they found themselves relocated to country areas when displaced by the new electric services. Their last days were spent mainly on shunting duties until they were replaced by the inevitable diesels. All E4x locos were withdrawn by January 1959 whilst the E4s worked on in continually diminishing numbers until the last, Nº32479, was withdrawn in June 1963.
Unlike the locomotive above 32472 was in steam and working at Nine Elms on 25th October 1961.

photograph by Alan Robinson

A number of these locos travelled over the water, twelve saw service in France between 1917 and 1919 whilst one, Nº 2510, was sent to the Isle of Wight in 1947 but was found to be too big for the island lines so was repatriated to the mainland. Then in August 1999 the Bluebell Railway's Nº473, "Birch Grove", paid a summer visit to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
32503 Yet another E4 away from its home Brighton metals, 32503 was at Eastleigh on 16th April 1963.

photograph by Alan Robinson

A very successful class (some members of which strayed away from the Brighton section to places such as Eastleigh, Waterloo and Tonbridge) of which all bar one (2483, scrapped in July 1944) survived into British Railways service. Under BR they were mainly painted plain black, although a few (such as all three BR-liveried locos on this page) received the lined black livery. One loco, 32473, continues to this day working on the Bluebell Railway as 473 "Birch Grove", wearing the Marsh umber livery and carrying her name on each side tank - a condition she was never seen in during her LBSC days when the umber liveried locos carried the letters 'L B S C' where previously there had been names.

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This page was last updated 29 August 2010

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