Talking Stock #21 – Bulleid’s Q1 ugly duckling or powerfully out of the ordinary?

During the second world war the need for a goods locomotive with wide route availability at a time of scarce raw materials and labour was to provide Bulleid with a challenge. He has already voiced his dislike of the Maunsell Q class 0-6-0 (appartently stating he would have cancelled the build if he had taken over as CME soon enough). Bulleid being Bulleid, looked away from usual convention in some areas and introduced the 40 strong Q1 class.

It was a powerful, reliable loco with a large fire grate and considerably lighter, by 14tons, than a comparable engine with a wide route availability. The war time constraints including the need to be efficient with use of materials and keeping weight down resulted in the use of lighter lagging that would not allow the support of traditional boiler cladding resulting the very boxy appearance, a lack of a running plate and wheel splashers and the use of Bullied-Firth-Brown cast wheels. The Q1’s greatest weakness was its restricted braking power on unfitted goods trains often resulting in the need for a head of fitted wagons.

C21 is built from a then Little Engines white metal kit
C21 is built from a then Little Engines white metal kit

I finished building C21 (apt for this post being the 21st Talking Stock post) from a then Little Engines Kit (it is now available from South Eastern Finecast) just a couple of weeks before   Hornby surprised most Southern modellers by announcing their intention to produce one ready to Run. With a cast metal body and a Portescap motor this loco is like the prototype very powerful . As you can see Bullied also numbered these locos in accordance with their wheel arrangement as Cxx ie no bogie or pony axles and just three driving axles.

Hornby's C8 weathered
Hornby’s C8 weathered

C8 is a simply weathered Hornby example and the fact that not much detailing has been required is a testament to the Hornby model. Although this is a Southern variant Hornby cleverly made the tooling adaptable to cover some of the variations and modifications made to the class during their lifetime.

Q1 with BR number  33038 but unusually still with 'Southern' lettering on the tender
Q1 with BR number 33038 but unusually still with ‘Southern’ lettering on the tender

C38 or 33038 I have a number of my fleet lettered slightly differently on one side to the other (afterall you can only see one side of once) and this model follows that practice. One side of this renumbered and weather Hornby model she is C38 as per her Southern days whilst shortly after the formation of British Railways in 1948 she was renumbered in Southern numeral style as 33038 but curiously retained the ‘Southern’ lettering on the tender rather than being re-lettered ‘British Railways’ C38 also sports the mechanical lubricator driven off the front axle that some members of the class were fitted to improve cylinder lubrication.

So seen by some as an ugly duckling, with many derogatory nicknames but viewed by others as a curious and powerful, characteristic class; make your own mind up…

4 thoughts on “Talking Stock #21 – Bulleid’s Q1 ugly duckling or powerfully out of the ordinary?

  1. I think Bulleid had the last laugh as the Q1’s power and versatility allowed it to operate right through to the final days of steam on the Southern. I remember them fondly as the ‘ugly ducklings’ on the rails south of Croydon in the 1950s. I like your C21 and bought Hornby’s C8 model immediately it was released. I’m in the process of trying to build an O gauge kit of the Q1 that I bought 10 years ago but the instructions are almost non-existent – it’s a struggle!

  2. You don’t have to convince me, Graham; they’re the most beautiful locos ever! They are a moving sculpture if ever there was. We called them ‘Charlies’ and there were 13 (a third of the entire class) at 74D (Tonbridge) in the fifties. They look their best when they’re heavily weathered. Blissful.

  3. I love them too. They did what it said on the tin- even if they were ugly. Their only weak point was due to their lack of weight. Size for size they were massive hauliers but stopping an un fitted freight was I have read “an experience”. Like the Q class before them they were also useful passenger locos capable of fair speeds where having continuous brakes alleviated the stopping problem

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