Due to the expansion of the many small yards and docks the London and South Western Railway (LSWR) required a number of small tank locomotives. First introduced by Adams in 1891 the B4 class of 0-4-0 tanks comprised initially of two batches of ten built at Nine Elms works and the first ten were completed by 1892.
When compared with other 0-4-0t of the time the B4 class, were quite large in comparison. Even with their enclosed slightly cramped footplate, limited coal space; were powerful and so became popular with their crews. This first batch entered service across the LSWR network and were numbered 85 to 94
The LSWR absorbed the Southampton Dock Company in November 1892 and it soon became clear that more powerful shunting locomotives would be required after a trial with one of the first batch of B4s, the first two of the second batch of ten were assigned to the Docks. In keeping with the existing Docks engines they were constructed with cut away cabs with a single central circular window, and carried names ‘Guernsey’ and ‘Jersey’ rather than numbers (later 176 and 81 respectively) and arrived, painted in a lined green livery, in the ‘Docks in November 1983. Of the remaining second batch numbers 95 to 100, 102 & 103, two more were built with the cut away cabs for the Docks becoming ‘Normandy’ (96) and ‘Brittany’ (97).
Between February and April 1896 a further four B4s were transferred to the docks and therefore also modified with cutaway cabs and names these were No.86 ‘Havre’, 93 ‘St Malo’, 95 ‘Honfleur’ and 102 ‘Granville’
Four more B4s made their way to docks, retaining their enclosed cabs: No. 85 becoming ‘Alderney’ and 98 ‘Cherbourg’ in April 1900 along with No.89 ‘Trouville’ and 90 ‘Caen in March 1901.
The livery of the B4s within the Docks changed during the 1920s from the in essence LSWR green livery to that of Brown with red lining and this remained as such, even post Grouping, until they left the Docks in 1946 where they gained standard Southern Railway livery of the time as per their non dock counterparts.
During 1908 a further five shunting engines were introduced by Drummond, seventeen years after the first Adams B4s, there were initially classed as K14s but were essentially B4s with Drummond style boilers (identifiable by dome mounted safety valves) , chimneys and a slightly different cab roof profile. The first two were sent to Southampton Docks and named ‘Dinard (147) and ‘Dinan’ (101). The rest were numbered 82 to 84. they were soon reclassified as members of the B4 class.
During their lifetime a few changes were made such as those in the Docks being fitted with a linseed filtrator that was mounted on the boiler to counter issues with the use of the sources of water used at the docks between 1901 and the early 1940s.
During the 1920s those cutaway cabs had the drivers side front sheet filled in and also acquiring side sheets of various homemade designs. Proper metal front and side sheets were eventually fitted to all for blackout purposes during the war.
The Adams and Drummond boilers were interchangeable and therefore during their life time some Adams built versions carried Drummond boilers and visa-versa, it is therefore important to refer to records and or photographs when considering a chosen prototype and period.
Those pictured on this post are based on the recent two batches of Dapol and some of its variations. Dapol have tooled for some of the variations for a number of variations including four cab styles, Adams and Drummond boilers, buffer head sizes and different chimneys, however some compromises have been made and therefore there are a few errors including: possibly the number of boiler bands, variation combinations not appropriate to the particular livery (such as buffer head sizes), missing injector, missing front middle lamp iron (as fitted to some prototypes at the base of the smokebox door) and the cab ventilation holes just under the roof line front and rear are raised mouldings rather than actual holes (a possible translation from CAD to tool issue).
I also note that on the BR livery version the smokebox door number plate is unusually completely a transfer rather printing on a moulded or an etched plate (although this may possibly be an advantage to those like me that are repainting into an earlier livery).Etched plates for all members of the class are available from 247 Developments run by friend and fellow modeller Brian Mosby.
Electrical Pick ups are, as you would expect and indeed necessary, wipers on all the rear of four wheels with an open slew wound five pole motor (rather than now more common can motors) driving the rear axle via a flywheel and gear tower. The front axle being sprung.
It also features a firebox glow which is quite dim, especially at low speeds on DC but might appear consistently brighter on DCC. No separate items are supplied for the owner to fit, with the exception of a unique very wide replacement tension lock coupling bar.
It should also be noted that of the seven Dapol models I have purchased two were dead on arrival (due to a misassembled bearing and a broken cylinder mounting bracket) that I fixed myself, and on Guernsey the cab rear panel was not seated properly leaving one of the handrails loose, but easily rectified. No 87 has both rear sandboxes with pipes loose in the packaging so needed gluing in place.
Despite the above comments it is overall a good model, performs well and very much a welcome addition to the fleet for Canute Road Quay as seen in action below.