2017 Announcement - The Wainwright H Class!
Hello and welcome to a very special edition of The Engine Shed.
Well, what a week it’s been. Keen viewers of our Social Media pages will not have missed one or two carefully placed clues, alluding to the subject of this week’s blog. After much speculation in forums and the like, we are pleased to reveal the first of our 2017 range new toolings – the Wainwright H Class 0-4-4T!
If you cast your minds back to one of the last editions of The Engine Shed of 2015, we actually let the cat out of the bag - so to speak - right there and then, when we released a picture from a recent research trip we’d embarked on.
It was an unseasonably warm start to advent in 2015 when, armed with the usual array of measuring sticks, tape measures, cameras and of course, coffee and cake, we set off round the M25 and down the A22 to our old friends at Bluebell Railway, where the always hospitable team there were kind enough to allow us access to their preserved H Class, No.263. We measured, we snapped, we noted, we reminisced and we gathered as much information as we could, until it was time to depart and get cracking with the design work.
A long-awaited and anticipated addition to the Hornby range, the H Class was originally Harry Wainwright’s solution to updating the ageing 2-4-0 and 0-4-2T stock running on the South Eastern and Chatham Railway at the turn of the 20th century and was very much a development of the Kirtley R Class and the subsequent R1 design. At a cost of £2380 each (equivalent to £136,500.00 today), 66 locomotives were built by Ashford Works, with No.540 being the first engine delivered on November 7, 1904 and No.184 the last, in April 1915.
31278 H Class Tunbridge Wells Central c.1962
The new design featured many advantages over the R1 class, the most significant of which being, a much more efficient boiler with a better steaming capacity and the distinctive ‘Pagoda’ cab, which was designed to keep the crew dry as and when they needed to hang out of the cab to observe the road ahead. Whilst minor detail may have differed between the six batches built, the outline of the locomotive stayed constant, with the exception of ten of the engines. These had straight bunker tops, enabling a better line of sight for crews when running bunker first on the early experiments with Push/Pull operation.
31278 at Tunbridge Wells West in October 1957 - image ColourRail
The engines were initially allocated across the SECR region, from Bricklayers Arms down to Hastings and Ramsgate and various sheds in between. Allocations and duties stayed fairly constant through to Grouping in 1923, with the addition of Reading-Redhill Branch services and the operation of semi-fast trains from Maidstone East into London Victoria during 1918/19. Following Grouping, services expanded to include East Grinstead, Horsham, Eastbourne and Brighton. World War II saw some passenger services being curtailed, carriage piloting and shunting duties introduced and the loan of three engines to the LMS for operation on the Arbroath local services, receiving the 2P designation.
Wartime servicing conditions unfortunately led to two engines, 1312 and 1264, being condemned for use as spares, but the remaining 64 entered British Rail service at nationalisation in 1948. With the withdrawal of D3, R and R1 classes from the eastern region of British Rail (Southern) in March 1949, there was a shortage of engines available for motor-train services and so the salvaged equipment was fitted to 4545 of the H Class between 1949 and 1961. The locomotives also found their way into the central section, the crews resisting replacement with the M7 class in 1955 because of their free steaming characteristics of the H Class.
31518 Near Chevening Halt on October 28, 1961 - image David Clarke
Increasing electrification of the lines in Kent impacted on the H Class duties, their area of operation contracting to the area served by Three Bridges and Tunbridge Wells West, but by January 1964 the final three engines were withdrawn, having been replaced by DEMU stock.
We have been chomping at the bit to start announcing our 2017 range, due in no small part to the popularity of the sneak peeks and guessing games of last year, but as many of you will know we have had to change and adapt here at Hornby HQ due to well publicised events this year. We know that many of you are concerned about the impact this might have on new tooling items and whilst there has had to be some 2017 range rationalisation and some careful consideration, that means that our new tooling items will mostly appear in the second half of the year. Our range is now finalised and we are so pleased to begin our 2017 announcements here in the Engine Shed once again, as we build towards the full announcement of our 2017 range! Keep a close eye on all of our activities as you never know where, or when, the next clue might appear...
CAD work began for the Wainwright almost as soon as the research trip had been completed
So on with the Wainwright H Class. Work has been progressing very nicely, with CAD work now complete that incorporates variants with differing bunkers, brake gear and push/pull gear. Not too long ago we received the first stereo sample of our brand new loco, we’re not yet in a position to show you the model running on the test layout, but we can tell you that our new release will be available in three different liveries initially, as well as a special edition train pack, complete with two Maunsell Push/Pull coaches, all of which will be available to pre-order for delivery later in 2017.
Look out for the liveries that we will be producing in a future edition of Engine Shed.
The first stereo samples for the Wainwright H Class have just arrived!
We will have some more updates on the locos’ progress in a future edition, so watch this space…
Let’s not forget the decorated Coke Hoppers!
Amidst all the announcement planning and preparation for 2017, we have received decoration samples this week of some of the last of the new products this year, the 20 Ton Coke Hopper, in BR and LMS liveries! We couldn’t be happier with the way these new tooled wagons have turned out and we’re very proud that they will be making their way to layouts later in the year.
Well there we have it, the first 2017 announcement of the year - it has been a while coming but we’re back! One thing to consider though, whilst at the wonderful Bluebell Railway last year, we couldn’t resist taking some snaps of other pieces of railway history as well, but let’s save that for another time shall we?
The Engine Shed team
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