Updated August 2016
Following William Stroudley’s experiments with modifications to his 0-6-0 tanks in the form of his E1R ‘West Brighton’, his successor Robert Billinton developed a series of 0-6-2 tanks, starting with the goods E3’s. He followed this with the E4 mixed traffic (5ft wheels), E5 passenger tanks (5ft 6” wheels), and finally E6 heavy goods (4ft 6” wheels).
The E4’s were the most numerous with a total of 75 in the class, compared with 30 E5’s and only 12 E6’s. They were perhaps also the most useful, with all 75 lasting into Grouping and Nationalisation. One of course survives and is currently (October 14) in steam on the Bluebell in Southern livery. No 473 ‘Birchgrove’ is seen here (several years ago) in Marsh umber running round its train at Sheffield Park. Very nicely turned out (and the Bluebell is forgiven for the name on the tanks sides instead of company initials).
All were named after villages and small towns in LBSCR territory, except for ‘Beachy Head’. The first 24 were turned out in goods green, while the remainder of the class were painted in Stroudley’s passenger yellow. Most of the earlier engines were repainted in yellow when repainting was required, although nine went straight from green to umber, the last being ‘Partridge Green’ in 1912. All 75 were painted in Marsh’s passenger umber between 1905 and 1913. Fletching is seen here on the left in original condition in goods green, and Portchester is on the right in yellow with direct loaded safety valves on the firebox, in place of the spring balances on the dome.
The first 44 had lever reversing, convenient for goods engines, but the later engines were equipped with handle and screw reversing.
My two E4’s are white-metal kits, acquired second-hand, but I have built chassis’s for both of them , using my usual fully compensated, split-axle pickup approach. No 468 ‘Midhurst’ is turned out in Stroudley goods green - when choosing a number for this engine, I selected 468 because I thought it was one of the few which went straight from green to umber, but on rereading Bradley I find this is not the case - so much for accurate research! However, Midhurst does have the correct safety valves and lever reversing. It’s shown on the left part way through refurbishment, awaiting number plates, maker’s plates, buffers, safety valves, and a little light weathering to tone down the lining and lettering. The photo on the right shows the finished engine, being used to test the track in the early days of Plumpton Green
No 522 (ex-Durrington) is in Marsh umber, complete with wheel and handle reverse and direct loaded safety valves, but awaiting maker’s plates on the front splashers.
Both are driven on the rear driving axle, using MJT modified Portescap gearboxes. Midhurst has a 1624 Portescap, whilst 522 has a 1616 Portescap. Compensation is arranged with side beams between the rear driven axle and the radial axle box, with a single central beam between the leading and middle driven axle.