Southern Railway (SR) Black 38-800
Represents 1561S as it was built in SR Black livery, but also suitable for 1560S. Allocated around the London area, Guildford & Ashford (Feltham and Nine Elms for S1560). This crane is currently preserved at the Swanage Railway in Dorset.
- Tall chimney
- Open framed relieving bogies
- Original cylinder style with inside steam chests
- Suitable for the 1940s
- Original match wagon with 2 lockers and SR positioned handbrake gear
Most of the British railway companies purchased heavy lift capacity breakdown cranes to suit their own requirements. Many of these came from specialist makers Ransomes & Rapier and were of similar design, though often with quite obvious differences or options specified by the railway engineers.
The four wheel match wagons were built separate to the crane, meaning they carry more detail variations.
Preparing for war in 1939 the British government ordered six 45 ton cranes from Ransomes & Rapier based upon the Southern Railways 36 ton cranes supplied a few years earlier for distribution between all of the railway companies. The first couple of cranes were supplied to the Southern, with the latter four going to the Great Western. In 1942, the government placed an order for two more cranes for the LNER with minor differences. These cranes were the last built to this design, but there were other very similar Ransome & Rapier 36 and 45 ton cranes built. Breakdown cranes were usually ordered in pairs as two would be needed to lift the heaviest locomotives. Often the railway companies specified a 50% overload capability, so the SRs 1930s 36 ton cranes would have been rated as 45 ton capacity by the builders and a ready starting point for the government orders.
In addition to attending breakdowns and derailments to put locomotives, coaches and wagons back on the track these heavy lift cranes were frequently used for routine infrastructure and permanent way maintenance duties, being able to lift bridge girders into position and assist with erecting signal and later overhead electrification gantrys. Being of a consistant design and quite new in 1948 these cranes served long into the British Railways years, still being deployed to accidents and engineering projects in the 1980s, sometimes in preference to newer diesel cranes.
The two Southern region cranes were the last steam cranes on BR when sold into preservation in 1989.