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LBSCR B4 / B4x Class 4-4-0

photograph: Mike Morant collection

B4 Nº53, Richmond, which had previously been named Sirdar and may be seen here fitted with an additional dome.

The B4 4-4-0 was RJ Billinton's last passenger tender locomotive and had many similarities in design with his earlier ones although were much improved in the size and power departments! Externally similar, the boilers were quite a lot bigger than Bessemer's, the previous largest loco, and had 180lb per sq. in. working pressure. The first three of the class had three-ring boilers with a centreline some 8' 1½" above rail level whilst the remainder had two-ring boilers pitched 1½" higher. Some of the class were built at Brighton, with others that became known as Scotchmen being built by Sharp, Stewart & Co. in Glasgow. The whole class was also known unofficially as "Sirdar" after the second engine to be built. Being the largest and most powerful express locomotives to be seen on the LB&SCR they were immediately put to work on the 8:45 a.m. up business from Brighton and the 5:00pm down from London Bridge.

In 1912 Nº59 was fitted with a Phoenix superheater, a rather large piece of apparatus that required much modification of the engine. A vast extended smokebox was fitted and the frames were modified to the extent that all the elegant curves were lost, being replaced by angle irons and an upward curve at each end. The experiment was not a success (as various other railways also discovered) and did not last long. Then, in 1935, the Southern Railway combined parts of Nº59 (including the modified frames) with parts of Nº68 to form composite engine Nº2068.

Some examples were named after events and people involved in the Boer War whilst two, Nº42 His Majesty and Nº46 Prince of Wales, were frequently used for Royal Trains, and as such kept their names after Marsh scrapped nearly all of them until finally seeing them removed by the Southern Railway. Empress and Sirdar claimed a place in the history books when they worked Queen Victoria's funeral train which, on being taken over from the L&SWR at Fareham running late, arrived at Victoria some two minutes early. Empress was the train engine whilst Sirdar was the pilot engine running ahead of the funeral train.

Nº52 Siemens was, briefly, renumbered 50 by mistake in 1905 and in 1908 was re-named Sussex (the name of Nº72) due, it is believed, to an error in the paint shop! In addition to the two locos mentioned above, Richmond, Sussex (Nº72), Princess Royal, Norfolk, Billinton (was Balmoral) and Devonshire kept their names until Southern Railway days.

Nº74 was withdrawn during 1935 by the Southern Railway, but was returned to traffic in 1937 and subsequently passed into British Railways' stock in 1948. Nº47, Nº50 and Nº60 were fitted with extended smokeboxes in 1915, Nº44 was rebuilt with a superheater in 1922, Nº45 was originally fitted with a Drummond water-tube firebox which was removed in 1911 and Nº46 was rebuilt with larger cylinders and extended smokebox in 1918.

In 1922 Lawson Billinton started the rebuilding of twelve of the B4 class into class B4x, though in reality they were more like new engines as little of the "donor" B4 was left other than the wheel centres and bogies. The wheelbase was extended by some 2' 4" and the larger boiler pitched some 8' 10" above rail level. A superheater was added and the tender enlarged to hold an extra 600 gallons of water. The boiler was similar to that fitted to the K class with top feed, though not in the additional dome that was fitted to some classes. The first two engines, Nº55 and Nº60, were turned out in grey and remained so until painted green by the Southern Railway. The last ten B4xs were built by the Southern Railway.

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  • 66 Balmoral
    B4 Nº66 Balmoral with train in LB&SCR days. This loco was later re-named Billinton.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • B4x
    An unidentified B4x working a down Portsmouth express near Cheam, date unknown but note the engine has LBSC lamp irons.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • B70
    B4x NºB70. The location at Chichester.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 2056
    Clapham Jn
    B4x Nº2056 at Clapham Junction with what is probably the "Sunny South Express" passing through the station non-stop on the final leg of its journey from Liverpool, Lime Street, to Brighton.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 2057
    New Cross Gate
    B4 Nº2057 on shed at New Cross Gate.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 2063 Pretoria
    Hither Green
    A rather tired looking B4 Nº2063 Pretoria seen at Hither Green.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 2073
    Now carrying Southern Railway lamp irons, B4x Nº2073, looking rather sorry for itself. Despite the Southern branding this may have been taken in early BR days.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 32043
    B4x Nº32043 in fully lined British Railways black livery with the legen "BRITISH RAILWAYS" on the tender.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 32072
    B4x Nº32072 also in fully lined British Railways black livery but now with the "cycling lion" crests on the tender.
    Photograph: John Wills collection.


The LBSC was better than the other Southern Companies in keeping locomotive classes more or less in consecutive numbers, but they could issue these numbers somewhat randomly! The B4 class was one of the better-ordered ones! The following table is set out in order of build:
LBSC Nº Name Built by SR Nº # BR Nº * Built Rebuilt as B4x Withdrawn
52 Siemens/Sussex Brighton 2052 32052 Dec 1899 May 1923 Dec 1951
53 Sirdar/Richmond Brighton 2053 - Jan 1900 - Nov 1935
54 Empress/Princess Royal Brighton 2054 32054 Feb 1900 - May 1951
47 Canada Sharp 2047 - Jun 1901 - Jul 1937
48 Australia Sharp 2048 - Jul 1901 - Jan 1936
49 Queensland/Duchess of Norfolk Sharp 2049 - Jul 1901 - Jan 1936
50 Tasmania Sharp 2050 - Jul 1901 Jun 1923 Jan 1936
51 Wolferton Sharp 2051 32051 Jul 1901 - Feb 1949
55 Emperor Sharp 2055 32055 Jul 1901 Aug 1922 Nov 1951
56 Roberts Sharp 2056 32056 Aug 1901 Aug 1923 Oct 1951
57 Buller Sharp 2057 - Aug 1901 - Aug 1936
58 Kitchener Sharp 2058 - Aug 1901 - Aug 1936
59 Baden Powell Sharp 2068§ - Aug 1901 - -
60 Kimberley Sharp 2060 32060 * Aug 1901 Sep 1922 Nov 1951
61 Ladysmith Sharp 2061 - Aug 1901 - Nov 1935
62 Mafeking Sharp 2062 32062 Aug 1901 - May 1951
63 Pretoria Sharp 2063 32063 Aug 1901 - May 1951
64 Windsor/Norfolk Sharp 2064 - Aug 1901 - Apr 1935
65 Sandringham Sharp 2065 - Aug 1901 - May 1934
66 Balmoral/Billinton Sharp 2066 - Aug 1901 - May 1935
67 Osborne Sharp 2067 32067 Sep 1901 Oct 1923 Sep 1951
68 Marlborough Sharp 2068§ 32068 Sep 1901 - May 1951
69 Bagshot Sharp 2069 - Sep 1901 - Aug 1934
70 Holyrood/Devonshire Sharp 2070 32070 Sep 1901 May 1924 Aug 1951
71 Goodwood Sharp 2071 32071 * Sep 1901 Jun 1923 Oct 1951
72 Sussex Sharp 2072 32072 * Sep 1901 Jan 1924 Dec 1951
73 Westminster Sharp 2073 32073 Oct 1901 Nov 1923 Aug 1951
74 Cornwall Sharp 2074 32074 Oct 1901 - Feb 1950
42 His Majesty Brighton 2042 - May 1902 - Apr 1947
43 Duchess of Fife Brighton 2043 32043 * May 1902 Jun 1923 Nov 1951
44 Cecil Rhodes Brighton 2044 32044 Jun 1902 - Sep 1948
45 Bessborough Brighton 2045 32045 Jun 1902 Apr 1923 Dec 1951
46 Prince of Wales Brighton 2046 - Jun 1902 - Jun 1936
# Between 1923 and 1928 SR numbers were the LBSC numbers with the added prefix 'B'
* Only three locomotives that survived into British Railways’ ownership carried 320xx numbers. Those that did are indicated with an asterisk.
* Carried S2060 in BR days
§ Nº50 combined with Nº68 as 2068 in 1935

This page was last updated 22 February 2012

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