Urie/Maunsell N15 "King Arthur" class 4-6-0

During this time the Board of the Southern Railway decided that all express passenger locomotives would be named. In view of the Southern's connections with the West Country and the class' association with West of England expresses the N15 class was named after personalities and places associated with the King Arthur and the Round Table Legend. With such romantic associations this went down well with the public and it was the first example of the sort of inspired marketing which would come from the Southern Railway. The first of the G14 replacement engines E453 was named King Arthur, and all members of the class including the original Urie builds and the Scotchmen received names.

The order with the North British was extended to a total of thirty and a further fourteen Arthurs were built at Eastleigh in 1926 and coupled with six wheeled tenders for use on the Brighton section (where the turntables were smaller). Following experiments with 772 Sir Percivale in 1926 smoke deflectors were fitted to all of the class, the first UK locomotives to be so equipped, during the mid 1930s.

Nº30801 Sir Meliot de Logres had a general repair at Eastleigh between 23rd June and 1st July 1949 when it received its BR number but retained malachite green livery. This explains the lack of an emblem or 'BRITISH RAILWAYS' on the tender - from about Oct 1948 to Aug/Sep 1949 tender and tank sides were left blank pending application of the lion over wheel emblem. Originally one of the N15 class intended for use on former LBSCR metals which required the much shorter three axle tender, it is thought that Nº30801 may have been the very last ex-SR loco to gain the malachite livery as Eastleigh paint shop went over to using the new BR green the very next week. This malachite/BR standard lettering combination was quite rare.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

30452 Nº30452 Sir Meliagrance on shed at Exmouth Junction during June 1949.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Early batches came originally with 4300 gallon Drummond "watercart" tenders, a design which was modified by Urie with outside bearing bogies and an increased 5000 gallon capacity. The six wheeled tenders for Brighton line had a capacity of 3500 gallons and these required a higher intermediate draw gear than the bogie tenders. Over time tenders were swapped around not only within the class but also with S15s, the Schools class (which received their six wheeled tenders) and with the Lord Nelson class (some lost their newer flat sided bogie tenders and received an earlier Urie version).

After a poor start this class emerged as one of the greatest designs of its day. They were popular with their crews and had a reputation for both being reliable and having an impressive performance. Introduction of electrification, particularly on the Brighton lines, the introduction of the Lord Nelson class and ultimately the Bulleid Pacifics relegated them from top express work after only a comparatively short time. The first withdrawal was in 1953 and all had been withdrawn by 1962. Only one engine 30777 (777) Sir Lamiel owned by the National Railway Museum survives in preservation.

Nº30448 Sir Tristram photographed at Exmouth Junction.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

30748 Nº30748 Vivien in BR days but still declaring 'Southern' on the tender. This was one of the names later conferred on one of the Southern Region's BR Standard Class 5 locos.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

Nº30777 Sir Lamiel on shed at Eastleigh on 29th June 1950. She is the sole example of the class to have survived into preservation.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

30448 Nº30448 Sir Tristram was the first of the Maunsell N15 class, officially rebuilds of the G14 class but, in fact, more like new build engines.

photograph: Mike Morant collection

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This page was last updated 27 April 2011

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