This London Brighton and South Coast A1 tank engine number 662 is now very smartly turned out. In 1972 when this picture was taken she was still waiting to undergo restoration. She was built nearly a hundred years before in 1875. The yellow on her tanks was “Stroudley’s Improved Engine Green”, while the cab is painted in red primer – a sure sign of progress. William Stroudley whose name is applied to this strange colour description became Superintendent of the Locomotive Department in 1870. At the time the motive power stock of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway really was painted green. Stroudley introduced the yellow ochre colour which, for some reason, he continued to refer to as green. (I have been informed by his great-granddaughter, who read this account of her ancestor, that the reason was that he was colour blind; the obvious reason, but it is good to have it confirmed.) He spent 19 years in charge of the locos on the line. In the twentieth century the livery was changed to a brown colour, dark umber, until the advent of grouping in 1923. Then the Southern Railway reverted to green for its locomotives hauling express passenger trains and black for goods engines.
This tank engine which goes by the name of Martello was bought by Billy Butlin in 1963 to go on static display in his holiday camp at Ayr in Scotland. It remained in Scotland for 9 years, but by the date of this photograph (1972) it had been given on permanent loan to the Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk; Sir Billy had been knighted in 1964.
Martello was restored to working order at Bressingham. It has subsequently needed other major overhaul, most recently in the 21st century, and has been sent to work in Sussex, its home territory. In its restored condition Alan Bloom had it painted brown ( Marsh Umber) and very smart it looked too. It has been done up in BR black livery since 2011, which in my opinion is a not so attractive.
The A1 was a popular class of railway engine with people who wished to preserve a locomotive, probably because it is a pretty looking engine and quite small; it doesn’t take up a great deal of room. Ten of the class have been saved which is fine, bur it is a little sad that there are so many of them while dozens of equally attractive locomotives have been lost to the scrap yard blow torch.
The class survived in British Railway use until 1963, when the last of them were withdrawn following the closure of the Hayling Island branch in Hampshire. Because of the weight restriction on the line these locos were used from Victorian times and they continued to operate to the end. Nothing else was light enough to travel over the causeway to the island. This was a long working life for a class which was completed by 1880. They had numbered 50 at the height of their popularity, all built at Brighton Works.
The best known among the preserved members of this class is Stepney which heralded the beginning of the heritage railway era when she became the first locomotive to work at a preserved line. She arrived on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex on the 17th of March 1960. She was sold by BR for £750, a price which included two coaches. Boxhill is another well-loved member of the class held in the collection of the National Railway Museum at York. The Terrier (this class of tank engine’s favourite nickname) Waddon is preserved at Exporail, the Canadian National Railway museum at Delson just south of Montreal. After several years of neglect in the open air she was restored by Britons living in Canada, and it now forms part of the interior display. (For more on this establishment see my blog on the Canadian National Railroad Museum.)