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Stroudley B1 "Gladstone" class 0-4-2

On the last day of the year of 1882, the first of Stroudley's final design of express passenger locomotives, Nº214 Gladstone, left Brighton works. This first loco of the new Class B1 was very similar to, but larger than, the Class D3, although the boiler was smaller but with a greater heating surface. Within two weeks it was in regular service being tried out on all the company's main lines, as well as being used for various trials on the main line between London and Brighton. With 6ft 6ins coupled driving wheels, larger cylinders at 18¼" x 26" and increased dimensions all round, the 'Gladstone' was a much bigger engine than Stroudley's previous 0-4-2, the D tanks. After almost one year of testing, Stroudley built 5 more identical locomotives to complete the original order.
Gladstone Bearing the later number of 618, Gladstone passes Goring circa 1920 with a Portsmouth-Brighton express.

photograph by A E Gurney-Smith

To overcome the expected heavy wear on the leading wheel flanges, Stroudley introduced steam-jet lubrication to the front tyres as well as increasing the cone on the tread to 1 in 32. Together with modified springing, Stroudley was attempting to obtain express passenger engine characteristics from a shorter and more compact design, partly to save construction costs in expanding locomotive premises in the London area. During the years that the 'Gladstones' were the prime choices for express passenger trains, their maintenance costs were much higher than the equivalent locomotives on other lines, particularly the neighbouring lines of the SER and LSWR with their 4-4-0s. These high maintenance costs were in addition to the already-known much higher construction costs of these and many Brighton locomotives.

Despite the above drawbacks, 6 more of the class were ordered in 1887 and a further 6 in 1888, as Stroudley was well satisfied with his Gladstone class of express locomotives. So between 1889 and 1890 a further 12 entered traffic. But for Stroudley's untimely death in Paris in December 1889 yet another 12 'Gladstones' would have been built. Billinton cut this number back to 6, making a total of 36 in the class. The names used were a mixture of prominent politicians and statesmen and a continuation of the Brighton practice of using town and village names within its territory.

Now bearing an early Southern Railway number, B197 at Brighton, date not known.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

While Billinton was not in favour of express locomotives without leading bogies, the company was well-stocked with express passenger locomotives and it took Billinton five more years to introduce a 4-4-0, the B2. These were of no real improvement on the 'Gladstones', and it wasn't until the B4s were introduced in 1899 that the 'Gladstones' were relegated to secondary services. Through the years various upgrades, such as new boilers and working pressure changes, were implemented, but by 1910 wear and tear meant that 10 of the class were scrapped within two years, with all usable parts salvaged for re-use on the remaining locomotives of the class. The outbreak of WWI gave the remaining 26 of the class a further lease of life and all these entered Southern Railway stock in 1923. However, with the surplus of secondary passenger locomotives as a result of electrification and changing traffic patterns, withdrawal started again in 1925, so that by 1932 only 3 were left in service, and these had been withdrawn within a year.

In 1927, the Stephenson Locomotive Society had made representation to the Southern Railway to preserve the old Nº214, now Nº618, Gladstone. For a cost of £140 it was restored closely to Stroudley condition, with the addition of various period fittings. The intention was to place it on permanent exhibition in the Science Museum in London, but this was impracticable at the time and it ended up at York in May 1927, where it now remains in a much enlarged National Railway Museum.

Gladstone On 27th May 1992 Gladstone formed part of the Royal Train exhibition at the NRM.

photograph by Colin Duff

Six years later in 1998 Gladstone, still depicting a "Royal Train" loco, is pictured on the turntable at the NRM.

photograph by John Lewis

Gladstone In 2000 Gladstone was part of the "around the turntable" display.

photograph by Jonathan Hall

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This page was last updated 28 February 2012

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