Although not iconically named after Arthurian legends until (Sir) John Elliot joined the Southern Railway in 1925, and set up what is reputedly the UKs first Public Relations Department, the N15 ‘King Arthur’ class of 4-6-0 locomotives were first designed by Urie of the London and South Western Railway in 1918. The design was adopted and modified by Maunsell as the newly appointed CME of the Southern Railway and this along with differing build batches, including some contracted to North British in Glasgow, means that there are a number of variations within the class both internally and externally.
The external more obvious variations include: tenders, cab profiles, footplate / running board heights (to match tenders), smoke deflectors, blastpipe / chimney and safety valves. Hornby with their model of the N15 class, first introduced in 2007,
have managed to successfully incorporate a number of these variations within their tooling. This post is not a full history of the class, as more can be found elsewhere such as here on the excellent SeMG website, but to simply illustrate the variations (and those renumbered, renamed and reliveried by myself) that can be seen on Fisherton Sarum.
The first batch introduced by Urie between 1918 and 1923, numbers 736 to 755, featured the LSWR style high arc cab roof profile and Urie style safety valves and 5000 gallon bogie style tenders.
During 1925 Maunsell ordered a number of G14 class engines to be ‘rebuilt’ as N15 class instead (although in practice these were new engines), numbers 448 to 457, and these can be identified from the original Urie builds due to the reuse of the G14 5200 gallon watercart style tenders.
As the number of the class required by Maunsell in 1925 exceeded build capacity at the time a batch, numbers 763 to 792 was ordered from north British of Glasgow. Known as the ‘Scotch Arthurs’ these featured redesigned steam passages & cylinders and the new composite loading gauge style Maunsell Cab roof profile and safety valves.
The final batch built at Eastleigh in 1926/7, numbers 793 to 806 were similar in design to the Scotch Arthurs but were paired with standard Ashford style 3500 gallon 6 wheel tenders, for use on the central section, and the running plate height at the cab end was raised to suit. I do not have a model of this variation.
Five of the class from the Urie batch were fitted by Bulleid with Lemaitre blastpipes and large diameter chimneys to try and improve steaming (in addition 792 was the only Maunsell version so fitted). Number 755 ‘The Red Knight’ also carried unique vertical smoke deflectors in conjunction with it being fitted with the Lemaitre blastpipe. (Hornby originally announced their Lemaitre version as being 755 but changed it rather than tool revised deflectors).
One further variation is that four members of the class were converted for a short while in 1946 to Oil Firing, which involved modification to the fire grate, the oil tank fitted in the tender coal space and the additon of a steam generator and electric lighting. This was short lived and by the end of 1947 were converted back to conventional coal burning.