SECR H class

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SECR H class
Tonbridge Station ex-SE&CR 0-4-4T geograph-2658589-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
H class 31177 at Tonbridge in 1958
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerHarry Wainwright
BuilderSECR Ashford Works
Build date1904–1909, 1915
Total produced66
 • Whyte0-4-4T
 • UICB2′ n2t
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Driver dia.5 ft 6 in (1.676 m)
Trailing dia.3 ft 7 in (1.092 m)
Length32 ft 10 34 in (10.027 m)
Axle load16 long tons 16 cwt (37,600 lb or 17.1 t)
Adhesive weight33 long tons 12 cwt (75,300 lb or 34.1 t)
Loco weight54 long tons 8 cwt (121,900 lb or 55.3 t)
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity1 12 to 2 12 long tons (1.5 to 2.5 t; 1.7 to 2.8 short tons)
Water cap1,350 to 1,150 imp gal (6,100 to 5,200 l; 1,620 to 1,380 US gal)
 • Firegrate area
16 23 sq ft (1.55 m2)
Boiler pressure160 lbf/in2 (1.10 MPa)
Heating surface1,104 34 sq ft (102.63 m2)
 • Tubes1,002 12 sq ft (93.14 m2)
 • Firebox102 14 sq ft (9.50 m2)
CylindersTwo, inside
Cylinder size18 in × 26 in (457 mm × 660 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort17,360 lbf (77.22 kN)
ClassSECR / SR: H
Power classBR: 1P
DispositionOne preserved, remainder scrapped

The South Eastern and Chatham Railway (SECR) H Class is a class of 0-4-4T steam locomotive originally designed for suburban passenger work, designed by Harry Wainwright in 1904. Most of the sixty-six members of the class were later equipped for push-pull working for use on rural branch lines.


The two constituent railways of the SECR had both relied on 0-4-4T locomotives for London suburban, and semi-fast train services; the South Eastern Railway (SER) Q class was introduced in 1887, and the London Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) R class in 1891. Of these, the R was the most successful design, and was continued in production by Harry Wainwright after the amalgamation of the railways in 1899. However, as traffic continued to increase there was a need for a new powerful 0-4-4T design to take over from the SER Q class. Wainwright therefore based his new design on the LCDR A class.[1]


The first seven locomotives were built by Ashford Works in November and December 1904; the design was soon found to be successful so that sixty-four were built at Ashford between 1904 and 1909. Following Wainwright's retirement Richard Maunsell discovered that sixty-six had been ordered and their components built, but had not been erected earlier; therefore a further two were erected in 1915.[2]

The H class boiler design was found to be so successful that it was later used as a standard replacement boiler on the SECR R1 class, LCDR B1 class, LCDR B2 class, LCDR R class, SER O1 class, SER Q1 class, and SER R1 class.[2] All 66 locomotives were equipped with vacuum brakes as used on the former SER, but thirteen also had Westinghouse air brakes and were used on the former LCDR lines.[3]


The majority of the class replaced Q class locomotives on the London suburban services of the SER and remained on these duties until after they entered Southern Railway stock in 1923, they began to be displaced by the electrification of these lines in 1925/6, when they began to be used on stopping trains further afield in the Eastern Section of Southern Railway in Kent. After 1929, they also began to be used on the Central Section (the former lines of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway) in East Sussex), where they replaced withdrawn D3 class locomotives. Between 1941 and 1952, two (and later three) examples were loaned to the Western Section and worked from Nine Elms on local shunting and empty stock. During 1943 and 1944 three examples were also loaned to the London Midland and Scottish Railway at Forfar.[4]

Two members of the class were withdrawn during the Second World War, but the remaining 64 entered British Railways stock in 1948. Forty five of the survivors were equipped for push-pull train working between 1949 and 1960, and the class was increasingly used on motor-trains on rural branches. With the completion of the Kent electrification scheme between 1959 and 1962, most of the surviving members of the class were withdrawn, except for a few examples working the non-electrified lines between Tunbridge Wells and Three Bridges.[5]

Table of withdrawals[6]
Year Quantity in
service at
start of year
Locomotive numbers Notes
1944 66 2 1264, 1312
1951 64 5 31016, 31182, 31532/41/46
1954 59 1 31311
1955 58 4 31158, 31309/20, 31531
1957 54 2 31274, 31321
1958 52 1 31184
1959 51 11 31164, 31259/69/79/95, 31327/29, 31503/23/48/54
1960 40 7 31239/65/66, 31310/19, 31520/40
1961 33 18 31161/62/77/93, 31261/76, 31306/07/22/26/28, 31500/12/17/19/50/52/53
1962 15 8 31278, 31305/08/24, 31521/30/33/42
1963 7 4 31005, 31522/43/44
1964 3 3 31263, 31518/51

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 11 March 1913, locomotive No. 324 was hauling a passenger train that failed to stop at Ramsgate Town station, Kent. It collided with a van and pushed it through the buffers. Ten people were injured; the accident was caused by the failure to connect the brake pipe between the locomotive and its train.[7]


No. 263 at Sheffield Park, Bluebell Railway 11 October 1992.

The final member of the class, SECR No. 263 (SR 1263, BR 31263), was withdrawn from Three Bridges on 4 January 1964. It remained in store at the locomotive depot until the following November, when it was purchased by the H-Class Trust and moved to Robertsbridge. Later it was preserved at the South Eastern Steam Centre at Ashford, but in 1975 the Trustees decided that the locomotive would have more scope for running if based on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex. In 2008 ownership was transferred to the Bluebell Railway Trust, which is funding an overhaul which started in March 2009,[8] it returned to service on 28 July 2012.


Hornby announced in 2016 that they would be releasing a model of the H class in 3 liveries; the model was released in 2017. [9] [10]


  1. ^ Bradley 1980, pp. 23–27.
  2. ^ a b Bradley 1980, p. 24.
  3. ^ Bradley 1980, p. 23.
  4. ^ Bradley 1980, pp. 25–26.
  5. ^ Bradley 1980, p. 26.
  6. ^ Bradley 1980, p. 27.
  7. ^ Earnshaw 1991, p. 15.
  8. ^ "South Eastern & Chatham Railway H-class No.263". Bluebell Railway. 7 April 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  9. ^
  10. ^

External links[edit]