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In Celebration of the 'Q' Class

Discussion in 'Bullhead Memories' started by Big Al, Apr 17, 2015.

  1. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    The recent welcome return of 30541 to the Bluebell and the lovely shots of her on the Bluebell Motive Power thread have prompted me to pen this short note in celebration of the class.

    For me, they were a rather elusive locomotive as they tended not to work passenger services but were always about, in the Sussex area in particular, and came across as capable work horses and rather attractive ones as well. Imagine my surprise when one day I was at Bournemouth Central and 30535 backed onto the Bournemouth West portion of the 1.30 ex Waterloo. It was only a ten minute ride but my first run behind a 'Q'. First and last, I thought.

    At the time, and with branch lines closing in the south of England like there was no tomorrow, the Locomotive Club of Great Britain (LCGB) ran many trips to travel these routes before they disappeared. If at all possible they tried to use motive power 'local' to the area. And so the 'Q' suddenly became the locomotive of choice in Sussex. Two occasions come to mind.

    In November 1963, the LCGB ran a Hayling Farewell tour. We left Waterloo with S15 No. 30512 that took us down to Portsmouth via the Watercress Line and Eastleigh. We transferred at Havant to 32636 and 32670 who ran 'top and tail' onto the Island. On our return, and much to my delight, 30531 and 30543 were waiting to take us onwards to Chichester before reversing up the remains of the Midhurst branch as far as Lavant. The train then retraced its steps to Chichester before running along the coastal route and turning northwards to Horsham. After taking water, we then turned eastwards towards Crawley and Three Bridges before heading for Victoria up the Brighton main line. So this was a two and a half hour journey from Lavant to Victoria with double headed 'Q's. And there I was, a few months earlier thinking that I'd never get a run behind a 'Q' again, never mind into a London terminus. Throughout the day, the locos managed their eight coach train effortlessly, keeping to time, and with some moments when their characteristic bark echoed across Sussex.

    A year later, the appropriately named Midhurst Belle Rail Tour returned to Sussex to this time succeed in reaching Midhurst but from a different direction. (It is hard to imagine that this little place was once a significant junction on a cross county route between Pulborough and Petersfield.)

    Starting out of Waterloo, we were once again treated to something unusual -30839 to Woking via Staines, but then, more remarkably, 30064 coupled on and ran solo with its eight coaches all the way through Guildford and via the now closed Cranleigh line to Christ's Hospital, where we reversed. Waiting for us was 30530. She did the honours to Pulborough and onwards to Midhurst. The right loco in the right place, in my view. After reversing back to Pulborough, the 'Q' then ran down to Littlehampton where she gave us another opportunity to show that a 4F can be wound up if necessary. We shot through Arundel at just on 50 mph.

    But this was not the end of our day with 30530 because she joined us again at Brighton to take us down the Kemp Town branch after 35007 had run us across from Littlehampton. The day ended with a fantastic non stop dash to Victoria behind Merchant 7 in only 56 minutes. But honours of the day really went to 30530 and I am looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with the class on my next trip to The Bluebell Railway.
     
  2. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    I can't remember all the details, but I once read the autobiography of a Southern Region fireman who related an experience of his with a Q on a long run. Roughly, they were supposed to take a branch train up to a junction on the main line, where an express would pick it up and take it to London . . . but the express engine failed, and there was nothing else available. So the driver asked the fireman if he was willing to give it a go, as the engine was obviously running very well, the fireman agreed and off they went - lickety split to London! He said they lost a bit of time on the upgrades, but made up as much as possible on the downgrades - but that was when the Q's limitations showed up, as she wasn't balanced to run at the speeds they got up to, so the whole of the train experienced that nasty to and fro shake.

    All the same, the fireman said the Q put in a cracking performance, considering how far out of her comfort zone she was. When the relieving crew met them, they looked a bit askance at the crew, and asked how far they'd brought the train with her (obviously thinking that the express loco had only failed just outside London). "All the way!", said the fireman - which statement was greeted with total disbelief!
     
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  3. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    That sounds very much like Jim Evans From Booking Boy to Bulleids with 30548 from Bournemouth to Waterloo. The best book of that kind ie stories from the footplate I've ever read.
     
  4. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    No - I don't think I've read that one. From yet another woolly memory, I think the author's first name was Mick.

    Damn! I've lost it (or got rid of it) over the years, and I'd really like to read it again.
     
  5. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    HAH!! Got it! Tracked it down at Bill Hudson's Transport Books!

    'Engineman, S.R.', by Mick Jackman, publ. by Bradford Barton.

    I'll get a copy and see if I was right in thinking that the fast run with the Q was in his book. If it is, I'll post more details.
     
  6. 30567

    30567 Well-Known Member Friend

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    Better put that one on my list.
     
  7. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    I don't think you'll be disappointed.
     
  8. Big Al

    Big Al Resident of Nat Pres Staff Member Moderator Friend

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    This is the story told by Jim Evans of firing to 30548 from Bournemouth to Waterloo on a return excursion in 1958 after the rostered loco failed with a brick arch problem and the Q was the largest engine in steam on shed. They kept time to Soton but as you say, things were more difficult when running at speed beyond Worting as the fire was shaken down not to mention the coal that progressed from tender to footplate. They lost just ten minutes from Soton and (just) made it to Wloo on a tender of water. Remarkable.
     
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  9. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    @Big Al - ah, cheers, mate! :) I've been racking my brains to think who was the fireman concerned in that epic run - especially as the rest of his book is such a great read. Booksellers, here I come!
     
  10. John Baritone

    John Baritone New Member

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    Big Al has put me straight on which fireman's reminiscences that story is in, 30567 - it was, after all, Jim Evans' book, 'From Booking Boy to Bulleids'.
     
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