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Bringing you up-to-date with the Lord Nelson!

Bringing you up-to-date with the Lord Nelson!

In amongst our assurances two weeks ago, we said that we’d be back to visit each of the 2018 new tooling projects in more detail. Well, we’re a blog of our word and in this instalment, we have all the details on the upcoming Lord Nelson class.

One of the more popular announcements in the Range Launch, and in some respects the flagship for 2018, these three models will be patiently awaited (or not so patiently…) as they near release. Both collectors and modellers alike will be keen to see what we have in store, as we cover off the full history of these engines, show you the work that went on researching them and then finish off with some images that are unlikely to ease the levels of froth online as we show you the Decoration Sample of R3603TTS ‘Lord Nelson’.

Let’s get started, shall we?


'855 Sir Robert Blake', by Malcolm Root FGRA on the Hornby 2018 catalogue cover


For many of you the story of the Lord Nelson probably starts with a painting. Through some investigative work that Mr. Holmes would be proud of, many of you were able to speculate as to what was shown on the 2018 catalogue cover. Through the various censored versions offered online, ‘855 Sir Robert Blake’ by Malcolm Root FGRA was found and seemed to match what could be seen. While not everybody agreed, the Lord Nelson class was soon suggested as a real possibility for 2018. Well if those online investigators haven’t been congratulated, then let us be the first to do so!

We're always impressed by the guesswork and speculation that goes on online, something we've been known to encourage here in The Engine Shed. We suspected releasing censored versions of the catalogue cover would encourage speculation and get the community talking. Much like the item "left" in the background of a photo or video in the blog, these discussions are always very interesting, and we hope, enjoyable for you too.

For us, having decided on the inclusion of the Lord Nelson class into the range it felt like the perfect fit for the front cover of the catalogue. Having already seen the painting of 6220 Coronation by Malcolm Root, our Researcher got in touch with Mr. Root to discuss potentially using one of his artworks.

Once we had seen the painting of Sir Robert Blake it really became the only choice for us. With Folkestone Warren local to several of us here, the railway workers adding a real human interest, plus the quite exquisite lighting, the painting was perfect. There was even the Wagon-Lits of the Night Ferry to add that extra element.

A Fellow of the Guild of Railway Artists, Malcolm Root was a pleasure to work with an even shared with us his thoughts on featuring on the front cover of our catalogue, “…it would be great to supply images for the iconic model railway company that has inspired me from my childhood days.”

Many thanks Malcolm, and we hope you’re all as much of a fan of the cover as we are. We have a feeling a number of younger children might be looking at Malcolm’s work and getting inspired just as he did.


Meccano Magazine Cover February 1927 featuring Lord Nelson


We did offer a brief history of the Lord Nelson class in our last edition, but there's much more to the story and the three locomotives we've produced. We're always keen to offer the history behind each model we work on, and here we can share with you the full histories of 'Lord Nelson', 'Sir Francis Drake' and 'Lord Rodney'.

In order to cope with the increasing weight of express passenger traffic on the Southern Railway following Grouping, the Chief Mechanical Officer Richard Maunsell needed a locomotive that was more powerful than the King Arthur class; something capable of hauling 500-ton trains at a speed of 55mph. 

To do this, Maunsell altered the positions of the cranks on the Lord Nelson design to give eight exhaust pulses per revolution, rather than four, significantly increasing the power over the King Arthurs. This gave rise to the claim by the Southern Railway of the class being "the most powerful express locomotive in Britain", based on the theoretical tractive power. Maunsell decided to produce one example as a prototype, E850 Lord Nelson, which was completed on 11th August 1926. After trials at Eastleigh, it was sent to Nine Elms for trial running on the Western section mainlines to Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Exeter, before moving across to Battersea for trials on the Dover boat trains.

850 Lord Nelson entered traffic nominally allocated to Stewarts Lane, followed by a short spell at Exmouth Junction, from March/April 1930, as the locomotive headed up the Atlantic Coast Express. The first of the Bulleid modifications took place in January 1942, just before Lord Nelson was allocated to Bournemouth in February 1943. Renumbered to 30850 under British Railways in October 1948, in January 1949 Lord Nelson returned to Eastleigh from where it was withdrawn in August 1962. Preserved as part of the National Collection, the locomotive now resides with the Mid-Hants Railway.


Lord Nelson class 4-6-0 No 850 Lord Nelson at Longhedge shed on November 2, 1931 © O.J. Morris/Rail Archive Stephenson


Both Maunsell and his successor, Oliver Bulleid, bought several modifications to the class, most noticeably the introduction of smoke deflectors. However, chimneys, bogie frames and cylinders were all modified, giving a subtle range of external differences over the pre-war appearance of the class. Post-war, speed recorders and AWS apparatus were added by British Railways, but it was the range of tenders that added the most interest. For most of their service life, the class ran with flat-sided 5000-gallon bogie tenders, but modified Urie style 5000-gallon bogie tenders from the S15 class were also used, along with 4000-gallon six-wheel tenders.

Built at Eastleigh in May 1928, 851 Sir Francis Drake entered traffic at Nine Elms, before moving to Stewarts Lane in June 1932. In February 1940, Sir Francis Drake returned to Nine Elms before heading south to Bournemouth in February 1943. An accident at Byfleet in December 1946 led to a major rebuild prior to a move to Eastleigh in January 1949, from where the locomotive was withdrawn in December 1961.


Lord Nelson Hand Coloured GA


Built at Eastleigh in October 1929, 863 Lord Rodney entered traffic at Stewarts Lane, before moving to Nine Elms in October 1938 following the fitting of an experimental large diameter chimney. Moving between these two sheds, Lord Rodney moved to Bournemouth in June 1945, but was at Nine Elms when renumbered under British Railways to 30863 in August 1949. While at Eastleigh in 1956, Lord Rodney had its front end renewed following a collision, but was not withdrawn from traffic until February 1962.


Surveying Lord Nelson at Mid-Hants


In preparation for work to begin here with the Hornby Development team, we were lucky enough to be able to visit Lord Nelson at the Mid-Hants Railway (MHR), where the engine has been preserved. 

Lord Nelson, or ‘Nellie’ as she’s called at the MHR, arrived at Ropley in February 2009. Our team visited the engine in September 2016 to find her looking a bit sorry for herself in a siding. The brass work and dials had been removed to avoid theft or vandalism. Nellie was also incredibly dirty, leaving both Hornby representatives covered in grease and oil by the time they had finished their work.



If being covered head-to-toe in dirt wasn’t enough, a rather steep bank can be found next to the siding, and we’ve heard a rumour that our poor Researcher may have found out just how steep the bank is the hard way! Not only that, but it may have even been caught on video – a teaser for another edition of The Engine Shed we think!

It was hugely beneficial for the project that our team were able to visit Lord Nelson in preservation. Much larger up close, the trip offered vital information and we’d like to extend a huge thank you to our friends at the Mid-Hants Railway for their assistance.


Lord Nelson Engineering Prototype - Images courtesy of Hornby Magazine


As we mentioned in our Stop Press edition two weeks ago, the Lord Nelson class has been tooled to offer as many examples as possible. Almost everything can be produced between 1926 to 1962, however there are a couple of exceptions. Both ‘Lord Hood’ and ‘Lord Hawke’ (before 1955) cannot be produced.



Having shown you all the work that’s been going on with the Lord Nelson class we can now bring you right up-to-date with this exciting project. Only received a couple of days ago here in the office, we can bring you the Decoration Sample of the R3603TTS ‘Lord Nelson’.

Exclusive to The Engine Shed, these images illustrate just how far we’ve come and showcase one of the most satisfying stages for us here at Hornby. Seeing the engine so close to being completed is hugely pleasing and represents hours and hours of hard work by the whole team.


R3603TTS 'Lord Nelson' Decoration Sample


As always, we do need to stress that these images do not show the finished article. There’s a number of changes and amends required before production is signed off, but we’re always keen to show you as much of the model as we can ‘in the flesh’.


R3603TTS 'Lord Nelson' Decoration Sample


We even managed to get Lord Nelson onto our test layout to give it a run. Much like the livery, the Deco sample wasn't running perfectly, but we felt it was moving well enough to show you here. Enjoy.



That concludes our detailed look at the Lord Nelson class and you can be sure we’ll be keeping our eye on all the models we’ve discussed here as the year rolls on.

As always, please do let us know what you think of the Lord Nelson class in the usual places, both on our Facebook and Twitter pages, but also over on our Official Forum.

All being well, we’ll be back with you on 16th February where we’ll take a close look at another 2018 new tooling project. You can be sure we’ll be doing all we can to offer some similar exclusive news next time, but we’ll just have to see what the postman delivers.

We hope all of you are well during this torrid weather, and until next time,

Happy Modelling!

The Engine Shed Team



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