The Gresley V1 2-6-2Ts in Scotland

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Gresley’s first V1 2-6-2T appeared in October 1930. It had a 180 lbs psi boiler and three cylinders which shared a single monobloc casting and drove on the middle coupled axle. Gresley’s idea of standardisation was to use parts common to more than one class of locomotive and many of the V1’s components were common to his K3 2-6-0 design. The V1 design proved to be successful in service and is claimed by some to be the most successful British 2-6-2T. Construction of the design continued over the next ten years until the final examples were produced in 1939.

The first V1s arrived at Glasgow’s Eastfield and Edinburgh’s St Margarets sheds in 1930. They were used primarily on suburban traffic. Many of Eastfield’s examples were regularly sub shedded at Helensburgh Central for use on the heavy Clyde Coast commuter traffic into Glasgow from the west. They dominated this traffic for thirty years until the line was electrified in 1960. The top coal rail on the bunker of the V1s interfered with coaling operations at Bridgeton Cross and therefore this was removed from some of Eastfield’s allocation. The same modification had been applied to some of Eastfield’s N2s. Subsequent developments saw the coal rails being plated over to prevent spillage.

The St Margarets examples were used on suburban traffic from Edinburgh to Musselburgh, Corstorphine and on the south side Suburban line. Some of the St Margarets allocation spent the night at sub sheds such as North Berwick and Dunbar in connection with commuter traffic to Edinburgh. Later on their sphere of operation was extended to Galashiels via Peebles. The photograph shows a St Margarets engine at Haymarket Shed in 1932. 2908 is known to have been one of the locomotives regularly out-stationed at North Berwick and the “Edinburgh” destination board suggests it has worked a North Berwick to Edinburgh service. Often these trains ran forward empty to Corstorphine where the stock was stabled and Haymarket would be the nearest place to take on more coal.

The 1931 deliveries increased the allocations at St Margarets and Eastfield whilst others arrived at Haymarket, Parkhead and Kipps.

Haymarket used its examples on suburban services from Edinburgh, to Larbert via Falkirk, to Glasgow via Airdrie and later to Stirling via Dunfermline

Parkhead’s allocation worked suburban traffic into Glasgow from the east including the LNER services from Hamilton to Glasgow via Shettleston. The Kipps examples also participated in the Glasgow east side suburban traffic, primarily on services originating at Airdrie. In pre electrification days the LNER’s Glasgow suburban services from the west tended to operate via the Queen Street low level lines to Bridgeton Cross in the east end of the city whilst those from the east continued to Hyndland or Whiteinch Victoria Park in the western suburbs. All services shared the core section from Partick to High Street via Queen Street Low Level.

As more V1s arrived in Scotland, the N2s were transferred south until 1933 when the Scottish Area total stabilised at 16, most being allocated to either Kipps or Parkhead. The N2s were subsequently restricted to local passenger and goods traffic although they could be called upon to work longer distance passenger traffic if a V1 was not available. The Scottish N2 allocation remained constant at 16 locomotives until withdrawals began in 1956, although many were stored for long periods of time prior to withdrawal.

In the meantime, further V1s arrived in Scotland 1934/35 and 1936, adding to the allocations above. These differed from earlier locomotives in that the coal rails on the rear bunker had been replaced by steel coping so as to prevent coal spillage.

In 1938/39 the last new locomotives arrived. Experience had shown that coal piled high in the bunker could sometimes obscure the crew’s vision through the small circular windows on the rear of the cab when operating bunker first. This was resolved on locomotives constructed from 1935 onwards by installing a hopper shaped bunker that narrowed and extended up to the cab roof between the rear windows. This increased the coal capacity of those locomotives so fitted. Initially, locomotives destined for Scotland continued to be supplied with the steel coping arrangement, but the 1938 deliveries had the tapered coal bunker arrangement.

The last V1s were constructed in early 1939. The next order was for ten locomotives of a revised design incorporating a 200 lb psi boiler. These were classified V3 and all were for the North Eastern Area,

Words: Brian McDevitt
Photograph: Eric Fry Collection.