Bob Lilley’s

BEATTIE WELL TANK

2-4-0 IN 7.25” GAUGE

Bob Lilley’s London and South Western Railway Beattie well tank was one of the eye-catchers of the Bristol Exhibition in 2014.

The LSWR Beattie well tank  2-4-0WT locomotives were originally built between 1863 and 1875 for use on passenger services in the suburbs of London, but later used on rural services in South West England. The new design eventually totalled 85 locomotives; most came from the Manchester firm of Beyer, Peacock and Company between 1863 and 1875, but three were built in the LSWR workshops at Nine Elms during 1872. The water tanks are not mounted above the footplate, but are set low down, hence the name. On these locomotives, there were two tanks, both between the frames, one above the leading axle, the other beneath the cab footplate.

They handled heavy loads, and were fast runners. Many were withdrawn in the 1880s but six were modernised between 1889 and 1894 for use on branch lines such as those to Exmouth and Sidmouth. Three of these, were withdrawn in the 1890s and the other three locomotives (298, 314 and 329) were transferred to the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway in 1895, which was one of the earliest railways in Cornwall and previously isolated from the main LSWR network. These three remained in service because of the sharp curves of that railway's freight branch to Wenford Bridge, which carried china clay traffic to the main line. They were finally withdrawn in 1962 and replaced by GWR 1366 Class 0-6-0PT tanks. In 1958, they were noted as "the oldest design still in use on British Railways” although the oldest engines were two of the former LB&SCR A1x class, built in 1872.

Two of the locomotives are preserved. Number 298 (later renumbered 30587) is owned by the National Railway Museum and is loaned to, and normally based at, the Bodmin and Wenford Railway. Number 314 (30585) is owned by the Quainton Railway Society and normally based at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.

The Beattie well tanks have been modelled in various gauges and a build in 7.25” gauge was Wenford was described in detail by Chris Rayward in Engineering in Miniature in recent years.