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LSWR Urie/Maunsell N15 "King Arthur" class 4-6-0

photograph: Mike Morant collection.

North British built N°767 Sir Valance heads a passenger train during Southern Railway days prior to the fitting of smoke deflectors.

In the autumn of 1918 the LSWR's works at Eastleigh turned out the first three of a new express passenger 4-6-0 class designed by Robert Urie. A further seven appeared between February and November 1919. With 6 ft 7 in drivers, carrying the characteristic Urie stove pipe chimney and retaining a Drummond style cab the N15 class was otherwise styled along H15 lines. The new locomotives were initially welcomed by the operating department, however at that time the schedules of the principal expresses they were working were undemanding with a maximum speed of 60mph. When timings were accelerated, though, they proved to be poor performers since they were not free steamers and were unable to sustain high power outputs.

Upon assuming the job of C.M.E. of the Southern Railway Richard Maunsell undertook a review of the existing locomotive stock. Although he had his own new designs planned the need to maintain services before they became available led to an improvement programme on existing designs. A revised front end design applied to the N15s including increasing the area of the steam and exhaust ports, fitting a modified chimney and blastpipe significantly improved the class' performance.

As Maunsell's new express passenger design was not going to be ready in time for the summer 1925 timetable and this was going to leave the railway short of suitable locomotives the Southern placed an order for 20 engines to the N15 design with the North British Locomotive Company. These were built and supplied in record time. This batch became nicknamed by crews as "Scotchmen". Simultaneously Eastleigh built a batch of ten N15s to replace the Drummond G14 class and they adopted their numbers and tenders. These and later batches differed to the original Urie design in that they had smaller cylinders, a higher boiler pressure (200 psi instead of 180 psi), front end features from the N Class and an Ashford style cab to the composite SR loading gauge.

During this time the Board of the Southern Railway decided that all express passenger locomotives would be named. In view of the Southern's connections with the West Country and the class' association with West of England expresses the N15 class was named after personalities and places associated with the King Arthur and the Round Table Legend. With such romantic associations this went down well with the public and it was the first example of the sort of inspired marketing which would come from the Southern Railway. The first of the G14 replacement engines E453 was named King Arthur, and all members of the class including the original Urie builds and the Scotchmen received names.

The order with the North British was extended to a total of thirty and a further fourteen Arthurs were built at Eastleigh in 1926 and coupled with six wheeled tenders for use on the Brighton section (where the turntables were smaller). Following experiments with 772 Sir Percivale in 1926 smoke deflectors were fitted to all of the class, the first UK locomotives to be so equipped, during the mid 1930s.

Early batches came originally with 4300 gallon Drummond "watercart" tenders, a design which was modified by Urie with outside bearing bogies and an increased 5000 gallon capacity. The six wheeled tenders for Brighton line had a capacity of 3500 gallons and these required a higher intermediate draw gear than the bogie tenders. Over time tenders were swapped around not only within the class but also with S15s, the Schools class (which received their six wheeled tenders) and with the Lord Nelson class (some lost their newer flat sided bogie tenders and received an earlier Urie version).

After a poor start this class emerged as one of the greatest designs of its day. They were popular with their crews and had a reputation for both being reliable and having an impressive performance. Introduction of electrification, particularly on the Brighton lines, the introduction of the Lord Nelson class and ultimately the Bulleid Pacifics relegated them from top express work after only a comparatively short time. The first withdrawal was in 1953 and all had been withdrawn by 1962. Only one engine 30777 (777) Sir Lamiel owned by the National Railway Museum survives in preservation.

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  • 749
    Still before the fitting of smoke deflectors, North British built N°749 Iseult heads a passenger train during Southern Railway days.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 765
    Sir Gareth
    North British built "Scotch Arthur" N°765 Sir Gareth on shed in what appears to be Southern wartime black livery.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 454
    Queen Guinevere
    N°454 Queen Guinevere photographed at Wimbledon, date not known.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • E766
    Sir Geraint
    N°E766 Sir Geraint photographed at Dover Marine, date not known.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • N°784
    Sir Nerovens
    N°784 Sir Nerovens photographed at Westgate-on-Sea during 1946.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • N°30801
    Sir Meliot de Logres
    N°30801 Sir Meliot de Logres had a general repair at Eastleigh between 23rd June and 1st July 1949 when it received its BR number but retained malachite green livery. This explains the lack of an emblem or 'BRITISH RAILWAYS' on the tender - from about Oct 1948 to Aug/Sep 1949 tender and tank sides were left blank pending application of the lion over wheel emblem. Originally one of the N15 class intended for use on former LBSCR metals which required the much shorter three axle tender, it is thought that N°30801 may have been the very last ex-SR loco to gain the malachite livery as Eastleigh paint shop went over to using the new BR green the very next week. This malachite/BR standard lettering combination was quite rare.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 30452
    Sir Meliagrance
    N°30452 Sir Meliagrance on shed at Exmouth Junction during June 1949.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 30448
    Sir Tristram
    N°30448 Sir Tristram was the first of the Maunsell N15 class, officially rebuilds of the G14 class but, in fact, more like new build engines.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • N°30448
    Sir Tristram
    N°30448 Sir Tristram photographed at Exmouth Junction.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • N°30748
    N°30748 Vivien in BR days but still declaring 'Southern' on the tender. This was one of the names later conferred on one of the Southern Region's BR Standard Class 5 locos.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 30786
    Sir Lionel
    N°30786 Sir Lionel on shed at Eastleigh.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 30789
    Sir Guy
    N°30789 Sir Guy turning on the triangle in Chichester Up Yard, 5th July 1958. Most goods trains changed engines at Chichester, typically S15/N15/H15 in and K or CC1 out.
    Photograph by Trevor Tupper.
  • 30789
    Sir Guy
    N°30789 Sir Guy once again, on a Cardiff or Bristol to Portsmouth train which is arriving at Fratton - N°30789 and other Eastleigh Arthurs were regular performers on these in the 1950s until the standard Class 4 2-6-0s arrived.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 30782
    Sir Brian
    >N°30782 Sir Brian at Victoria station on 25th Februruary 1962 and about to haul the LCGB The Kentish Venturer.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 30770
    Sir Prinius
    N°30770 Sir Prinius at Eastleigh on 9th September 1962, just two months before withdrawal.
    Photograph: Mike Morant collection.
  • 777
    Sir Lamiel
    Preserved in the National Collection at York, N°777 was on display at Cannon Street during the Greewich 150 event on 23rd August 1986.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • 30777
    Sir Lamiel
    N°777/30777 Sir Lamiel, undergoing attention at the Great Central Railway, is seen here minus a lot of major parts in their Loughborough Works on 28th June 2003.
    Photograph by Colin Duff.
  • 30777
    Sir Lamiel
    In May 2004 N°30777 Sir Lamiel was called back to York by the NRM to be part of the Railfest celebrating 200 years of the steam railway locomotive. She is seen here photographed on 30th May 2004 in a cosmetically complete stage, though missing a significant part of her innards. After Railfest the loco was due to return to Loughborough to have its rebuilding completed.
    Photograph by Adam Warr.

Technical Details

Driving Wheel:
Bogie Wheel:
Water Capacity:
Cylinders (2):
Boiler Pressure:
Tractive Effort:
Coal Capacity:
Power Classification:
September 1918
6 ft 7 ins
3 ft 7 in
66 ft 5¼ ins
138 tons 3 cwt
5,000 gals
20½ in x 28 in #
180/200 lb sq in
26,245 lb
5 tons
# 755/30755 only, 22in x 28in cylinders


SR N° BR N° Name Date Built Withdrawn Name to Date Notes
448 30448 Sir Tristram May 1925 Aug 1960     R
449 30449 Sir Torre Jun 1925 Dec 1959     R
450 30450 Sir Kay Jun 1925 Sep 1960     R
451 30451 Sir Lamorak Jun 1925 Jun 1962     R
452 30452 Sir Meliagrance Jul 1925 Aug 1959     R
453 30453 King Arthur Feb 1925 Jul 1961     R
454 30454 Queen Guinevere Mar 1925 Nov 1958     R
455 30455 Sir Launcelot Mar 1925 Mar 1959     R
456 30456 Sir Galahad Apr 1925 May 1960     R
457 30457 Sir Bedivere Apr 1925 May 1961     R
736 30736 Excalibur Sep 1918 Nov 1956 73081 Feb 1961 U
737 30737 King Uther Oct 1918 Jun 1956 73111 Feb 1961 U
738 30738 King Pellinore Dec 1918 Mar 1958 73115 Jan 1960 U
739 30739 King Leodegrance Feb 1919 May 1957 73118 Feb 1960 U
740 30740 Merlin Apr 1919 Dec 1955 73080 Feb 1961 U
741 30741 Joyous Gard May 1919 Feb 1956 73088 May 1961 U
742 30742 Camelot Jun 1919 Feb 1957 73082 Aug 1959 U
743 30743 Lyonnesse Aug 1919 Oct 1955 73113 Dec 1959 U
744 30744 Maid of Astolat Sep 1919 Jan 1956 73089 May 1959 U
745 30745 Tintagel Nov 1919 Feb 1956 73084 Oct 1959 U
746 30746 Pendragon Jun 1922 Oct 1955 73083 Oct 1959 U
747 30747 Elaine Jul 1922 Oct 1956 73119 Jul 1959 U
748 30748 Vivien Aug 1922 Sep 1957 73117 Apr 1961 U
749 30749 Iseult Sep 1922 Jun 1957 73116 Sep 1962 U
750 30750 Morgan Le Fay Oct 1922 Jul 1957 73112 Apr 1960 U
751 30751 Etarre Nov 1922 Jun 1957 73114 Mar 1960 U
752 30752 Linette Dec 1922 Dec 1955 73087 May 1961 U
753 30753 Melisande Jan 1923 Mar 1957 73085 Aug 1959 U
754 30754 The Green Knight Feb 1923 Jan 1953 73086 Dec 1959 U
755 30755 The Red Knight Mar 1923 May 1957 73110 Jan 1960 U
763 30763 Sir Bors de Ganis May 1925 Oct 1960     NB
764 30764 Sir Gawain May 1925 Jul 1961     NB
765 30765 Sir Gareth May 1925 Sep 1962     NB
766 30766 Sir Geraint May 1925 Dec 1958     NB
767 30767 Sir Valance* Jun 1925 Jun 1959     NB
768 30768 Sir Balin Jun 1925 Oct 1961     NB
769 30769 Sir Balan Jun 1925 Feb 1960     NB
770 30770 Sir Prianius Jun 1925 Nov 1962     NB
771 30771 Sir Sagramore Jun 1925 Mar 1961     NB
772 30772 Sir Percivale Jun 1925 Sep 1961     NB
773 30773 Sir Lavaine Jun 1925 Feb 1962     NB
774 30774 Sir Gaheris Jun 1925 Jan 1960     NB
775 30775 Sir Agravaine Jun 1925 Feb 1960     NB
776 30776 Sir Galagars Jun 1925 Jan 1959     NB
777 30777 Sir Lamiel Jun 1925 Oct 1961     NB, Pr
778 30778 Sir Pelleas Jun 1925 May 1959     NB
779 30779 Sir Colgrevance Jul 1925 Jul 1959     NB
780 30780 Sir Persant Jul 1925 Jul 1959     NB
781 30781 Sir Aglovale Jul 1925 May 1962     NB
782 30782 Sir Brian Jul 1925 Sep 1962     NB
783 30783 Sir Gillemere Aug 1925 Feb 1961     NB
784 30784 Sir Nerovens Aug 1925 Oct 1959     NB
785 30785 Sir Mador de la Portte Aug 1925 Oct 1959     NB
786 30786 Sir Lionel Aug 1925 Aug 1959     NB
787 30787 Sir Menadeuke Sep 1925 Feb 1959     NB
788 30788 Sir Urre of the Mount* Sep 1925 Feb 1962     NB
789 30789 Sir Guy Sep 1925 Dec 1959     NB
790 30790 Sir Villiars Sep 1925 Oct 1961     NB
791 30791 Sir Uwaine Sep 1925 May 1960     NB
792 30792 Sir Hervis de Revel Oct 1925 Feb 1959     NB
793 30793 Sir Ontzlake Mar 1926 Aug 1962     M
794 30794 Sir Ector de Maris Mar 1926 Aug 1960     M
795 30795 Sir Dinadin Apr 1926 Jul 1962     M
796 30796 Sir Dodinas le Savage May 1926 Feb 1962     M
797 30797 Sir Blamor de Ganis Jun 1926 Feb 1962     M
798 30798 Sir Hectimere Jun 1926 Jun 1962     M
799 30799 Sir Ironside Jul 1926 Feb 1961     M
800 30800 Sir Meleaus de Lile Sep 1926 Aug 1961     M
801 30801 Sir Meliot de Logres Oct 1926 Apr 1959     M
802 30802 Sir Durnore Oct 1926 Jul 1961     M
803 30803 Sir Harry le Fise Lake Oct 1926 Jul 1961     M
804 30804 Sir Cador of Cornwall Dec 1926 Feb 1962     M
805 30805 Sir Constantine Jan 1927 Nov 1959     M
806 30806 Sir Galleron Jan 1927 Apr 1961     M

30777 Sir Lamiel is preserved as part of the National Collection.
R 448 - 457 were the Maunsell "G14 rebuilds", essentially new engines with the G14 Drummond watercart tenders.
U 736 - 755 were the Urie locomotives with Urie pattern tender.
NB 763 - 792 were the (incorrectly named) "Scotch Arthurs" built by North British with Urie pattern tender.
M 793 - 806 were equipped by Maunsell with Ashford 6 wheel tenders for use on the Central section with its shorter turntables and were sometimes also called "Scotch Arthurs", despite the fact that they were built by the Southern Railway!
* 767 Was originally to have been named Sir Mordred until it was realised that he was the traitor and 788 was to have been named Sir Beaumains until it was realised that this was the nickname of Sir Gareth

This page was last updated 15 April 2012

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