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The Centenary of the Beattie Well Tank at Quainton

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Locomotive Centenarians

In this country a large number of steam locomotives have been preserved and there are nearly forty examples of standard gauge engines built more than a hundred years ago. These veterans fall into five principal categories, viz., the 'pioneers', the early industrial locomotives, the surviving main line passenger and freight engines, the shunting engines of main line Companies, and the London commuter motive power.

The 'pioneers' represent about a quarter of the remaining centenarians. They are all exhibited at museums or on pedestals and belong to the earliest formative years of our railways. Engines in this category recall names like Rocket and Puffing Billy; names associated with the great visionary engineers such as George Stephenson and Richard Trevithick and with the first railways built before 1830.

The early industrial locomotives are represented by ten engines built before 1874 which, in their heyday laboured at collieries or in the yards of industrial premises. An excellent representative of this class is the four wheeled saddle tank engine in the South Kensington Science Museum. This carries the name, Bauxite No. 2 [Note 1] and it was built at Gateshead in 1874.

The survivors of the centenarian express passenger engines include some of the most beautiful machines designed by locomotive engineers. The famous 'Stirling No. l' of the Great Northern Railway, built in 1870, is at York museum [Note 2]; the splendid four coupled engine, Hardwicke, built in 1873 by the London and North Western Railway is at Carnforth [Note 3] and should be steaming again in 1975; and the Midland Railway's lovely 2-4-0, No. 158A of 1866, at Leicester museum [Note 4], are just a few examples of the classical thoroughbreds which graced the main line expresses of more than a century ago.

The shunting locomotives of the old Companies were frequently noteworthy for their longevity and examples sold to industry for further use have survived and become antiques. At Shugborough Hall, Staffordshire there is a four wheeled tank engine which was built for the London & North Western in 1865 [Note 5], while there are two rather similar Furness Railway engines preserved near Barrow [Note 6].

The last category, the commuter motive power, has centenarian representatives from three of the Companies which served Londoners in those days of gaslight and hansom cab. First there is the Metropolitan Railway 4-4-0 tank, No. 23, built in 1866, which is on display at Syon Park Museum, Isleworth [Note 7]. Secondly, there are the two pre-1874 examples of the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway's six coupled tank engine, nicknamed the 'Terriers'. Happily, both are serviceable on preserved railways; No. 3 'Bodiam' on the Tenterden Railway [Note 8] and No. 72 'Fenchurch' on the Bluebell Railway [Note 9].

The third Company is the London and South Western Railway with two examples of the Beattie well tank, both celebrating their centenaries in 1974. No. 30587 is the property of British Rail and is cold and unusable. Until 1975 it has been kept locked away at Brighton and has not been on public display [Note 10]. The sister engine is, of course, Quainton's own veteran, numbered No. 30585 by British Rail, 3314 or 0314 by the Southern Railway, and 0314 or 314 by the London and South Western Railway.

The Centenary of the Beattie Well Tank at Quainton, Quainton Railway Society, 1974

1 - Now at the National Railway Museum, York.
2 - Still at the Locomotion, The National Railway Museum at Shildon.
3 - Now at the National Railway Museum, York. Was steamed by 1976, but is now on static display.
4 - Now at the Midland Railway, Butterley.
5 - Now at the Ribble Steam Railway, Preston.
6 - These are Furness Railway No. 20, for many years on static display at a school at Barrow, and subsequently restored by the Furness Railway Trust. The second one was Furness Railway No. 25, for many years on static display at a school at Ulverston, and now under restoration at Carnforth.
7 - Now at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden.
8 - Still at the Kent and East Sussex Railway, Tenterden.
9 - Still at the Bluebell Railway, Horsted Keynes.
10 - Part of the National Collection, No. 30587 is now operational and is based at the Bodmin & Wenford Railway.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1974 and so does not reflect events in the 40+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added as deemed necessary.  The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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Page Updated: 15 October 2017