Bodiam as 32670 pilots a train at Newmill Bridge in October 1985 picture copyright H.Nightingale

Preservation Plans – 65 Years Ago
by Tom Burnham

First published in issue 60 of The Tenterden Terrier Spring 1993
Reproduced with permission of present editor Mr P D Shaw

Of the two Brighton Terriers once owned by the K&ESR, we tend to think of No.3 “Bodiam” as a survivor, rebuilt twice by the old company, seeing much service with British Railways and now enjoying an honourable old age in the preservation era. No.5 “Rolvenden”, on the other hand, was laid aside by 1932 and gradually stripped of useful parts, before the remains were cut up for scrap in 1938. However, if proposals aired in the Railway Magazine of 1928 had come to fruition, the situation of the two Terriers might have been reversed.

At that time, and indeed for several years longer, the Railway Magazine had no Letters to the Editor column as such. Instead, correspondence from readers was included with short news items in the Pertinent Paragraphs section. Many names well known to railway enthusiasts appeared in Pertinent Paragraphs, amongst them C. R.Clinkler, R.W. Kidner, Charlie E.Lee, G.T.Moody and P.Ransome-Wallis. Another frequent write was O.J.Morris of Beulah Hill, Norwood, who took excellent photographs, particularly of London, Brighton & South Coast Railway subjects, and regularly advertised his “burnished sepia tone cards” for sale in the Railway Magazine.

It was in the April 1928 issue that a Pertinent Paragraph invited the views of readers in regard to the preservation of a Stroudley Terrier, in response to a suggestion by O.J.Morris, who had written “I am now stimulated to action by a recent renewal of acquaintance with the most noteworthy of all these engines, old No.71 ‘Wapping’, at present spending its old age on the Kent & East Sussex Railway as No.5 ‘Rolvenden’. This engine, built for working the South London line, but, at first, drafted to the East London line then just opened, was the first of the class, and, happily to relate, the one nearest in condition to original. She was built in October 1872. I should now like to appeal to all ‘Brighton’ enthusiasts, and, indeed, to all who are interested in the preservation of old engines, to consider whether this famous ‘Terrier’ should not be saved from an ultimate scrap-heap. To save some of the other engines of the class would mean an extensive re-conditioning, as they have undergone a considerable amount of rebuilding; moreover, they lack the interest that ‘Rolvenden’ possesses.”

More recent investigations, particularly by the late Donald Bradley, have shown that O.J.Morris was not strictly correct in claiming “Wapping” as the first Terrier. Both “Wapping” and No.72, “Fenchurch”, left the erecting shop at Brighton Works on the same day, 28 August 1872, and “Wapping” was the first to make a trial journey, on 02 September. However, this revealed a fault in the cylinders, and while these were being replaced, “Fenchurch” entered revenue-earning service, on 07 September.

Considerable interest was aroused by O.J.Morris’s proposal, and several letters are mentioned in the following issue of Railway Magazine, for May 1928. Amongst them is one from C.Hamilton Ellis, who, according to his essay, “The Steel Byway”, has a particular affection for the Kent & East Sussex as one of its regular passengers, six times a year. He wrote “I fully realise that it is impossible to preserve every locomotive that recalls memories of one-time fame; indeed, there are many that have claims in this respect, such as Johnson’s ‘Single’, Beattie’s well-tank, Drummond’s old single on the late Caledonian Railway, formerly No.123, to say nothing of many ‘fine old gentlemen’ that have now joined the ranks of the scrapped. Surely, however, something might be done to save a Terrier from the great majority…The Kent & East Sussex Railway still possesses what is probably the oldest passenger carriage in service in Great Britain, so, perhaps a place may yet be found for the old ‘Rolvenden’.” It is interesting that example of each of the three other classes mentioned by Hamilton Ellis have also been preserved.

Further comments followed over succeeding months. In June, Mr Malcolm N.Niven pointed out that “Brighton” (ex-LB&SCR No.40) was a gold medal engine at Paris in 1878, and the first engine to demonstrate the Westinghouse brake in France, and reported seeing a Terrier in its original form shunting at Littlehampton the previous year. Which locomotive he saw is an interesting question. The regular Littlehampton Wharf shunter at this period was B653, later sold to the Weston Clevedon & Portishead Railway where it became No.4, but this had been rebuilt as class A1X with an extended smokebox in 1912.

In July, L.E.Brailsford wrote “it will be fresh in the memories of your readers that the Stephenson Locomotive Society was largely responsible for salving the equally famous ‘Gladstone’ last year, and perhaps the time is hardly right for them to embark on a similar venture. Moreover, they cannot confine their efforts in this direction to one railway alone. To offer a few suggestions, I would propose Mr Morris gets in touch with the railway, as to the likelihood of their making a gift of old 71 to the nation, or alternatively, their most favourable terms, the cost of any small amount of restorations required, and as to the willingness of the authorities of the Science Museum, Kensington or of the Crystal Palace to find her a permanent home. On account of her small size this would not be difficult.

Charity No. 1050480

“There should be many amongst your readers, including those belonging to the various mechanical clubs, societies, etc., including individual members of the Stephenson Locomotive Society like myself, who would be keen in making some small effort to preserve this and other noteworthy examples of British locomotive practice.”

“Gladstone”, the famous Stroudley express 0-4-2, had been condemned by the Southern Railway in 1927, when the Stephenson Locomotive Society raised £140 for the cost of restoring it to its original condition and livery at Brighton Works. It was originally intended that “Gladstone” should be displayed at the Science Museum in South Kensington, but space was not immediately available and so the engine was loaned to the LNER museum at York, a temporary arrangement that has lasted 66 years. This was probably the first example in this country of an amateur group raising funds for the preservation of a railway engine.

It would be interesting to know whether O.J.Morris ever approached Colonel Stephens to ask him to give No.5 to the nation, and if so what reply he received. It can hardly have been favourable, as by 1932 “Rolvenden” was partially dismantled, and the remains finally disappeared in the scrap drive of 1938.

This was not the last opportunity to preserve a Terrier in its original state, however, as the Brighton Works shunter, 380S (built in 1880 as No.82 “Boxhill”) had never been rebuilt with an extended smokebox, and in 1947 the Southern Railway decided to restore this locomotive as near as possible to its original condition and repaint it in Stroudley livery. It was kept at Nine Elms and displayed on various special occasions in the Southern Region. After a period of storage at Tweedmouth, it was returned south for display at the Museum of British Transport, Clapham, in 1963 and is now in the National Railway Museum at York.

Extracts from the Railway Magazine are quoted by kind permission of the Editor.

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The most obvious comment is that had “Wapping/Rolvenden” been preserved in the 1930s in any tangible form is that it would have been touch and go whether it would have managed to survive the war. It is similarly questionable whether the engine would have been able to survive as an A1 or whether any rescue would have ultimately resulted in its conversion to A1X as happened to “Bodiam” in 1943

Note the pluralistic comment regarding the retention of Terriers perhaps indicating the range of work still available for them in the inter-war period but possibly a bit of crystal-ball gazing as well. There is a definite inference that “Wapping/Rolvenden” should be a prime candidate for retention rather the only one

I still maintain that “Wapping” was never going to be the first in service, cylinders or no cylinders. The choice of names for the first batch seems weird or may be it was deliberate in that only one was named after an area that had an important station. We are intimately familiar with the need to get the name right. Okay, Tank stuck but Shrew and Hurricane in the Battle of Britain…

The photograph of “Rolvenden” that accompanies the article, taken by Mr Morris about 1925-ish – could it have been as late as 1928? – shows the engine teetering on the brink with a patch on its bunker and indications of corrosion to platework immediately above the running plate. So was the engine already in a parlous state that year?

The letter from Mr Brailsford intimates the impossibility of a group or indeed difficulty of individuals supporting a specific project when the “pot” is a railway or some other larger organisation. It points towards the need have trusts, or at the very least dedicated fund management if people are to give money to a specific project. The SLS simply could not take the lead, even if they had wanted to, in preserving “Wapping/Rolvenden” all the time it was owned by the railway. Exactly the same problem besets No.50 “Whitechapel/Sutton” which is owned by the London Borough of Sutton

Future battles lay ahead to save other iconic Terriers. Some were won such as “Boxhill” and “Fenchurch” but others like “Morden” and “Sutton” were tragically lost at a painfully late stage. And yet there is a certain irony in the loss of No.71 for had it been preserved in stead of “Bodiam” and remained in A1 condition then I think the chances of the aforementioned two avoiding the cutter’s torch would been somewhat less than ultimately proved to be the case