Elegant Victorian era goods engines built for the South Eastern Railway 1878-1899 and lasting until 1962.
The SECR O1 class 0-6-0 marks a transition at the end of the early era of design. James Stirling designed the O Class 0-6-0 as an all-purpose goods locomotive to work across the entire South Eastern Railway, with the first example delivered in 1878. However tenders retained an older styling, with the springs mounted alongside the water tank above the running plate.
122 locomotives were constructed between 1878 and 1899 by Sharp, Stewart and Co. and the SERs' Ashford Works.
From 1900 many members of the O class were rebuilt, 59 being given larger boilers designed for the H class 0-4-4 tank engines between 1903 and 1923, being reclassified as Class O1.
Displaced from mainline duties by the newer and more powerful Wainwright C class 0-6-0 goods engines the O1 class were still needed for branchline goods services and could still be seen working branch lines such as the Kent and East Sussex and East Kent Railways in the 1950s. BR number 31065 earned one final claim to fame by leading the ‘Farewell to Steam’ railtour on the Hawkhurst Branch before withdrawn in 1961 and the last of the class was withdrawn from service in 1962.
Fortunately 31065 was retained for apprentice training at Ashford works and in 1963 was purchased for preservation, moving to the Bluebell Railway in 1966 where, as SECR number 65, the engine can be found today.