Southern Railway U Class 1638 on the Bluebell Railway

Following from my previous blog post (click here) on my visit to the Bluebell Railway, here are some pictures of the Maunsell U class 1638 that was in operation that day.  The U class is no stranger to this website or to me and I’m happy to say that I’ve seen all four that survive in preservation in steam.

The U class was an unsung hero of the Southern commuter, sharing a lot in common with the N class; the main difference between these classes were the size of the wheels; with the U class having larger wheels (six feet in diameter).  Interestingly the more numerous N class (80 N class locomotives were built compared to 50 U class) only have one survivor.  Despite being the similar to the N class, we are yet to see a ready to run 00 scale model of the U class.  Looking similar might help with tooling costs, but presumably it probably also means that demand isn’t too great.  Bachmann produce a decent model of the N class (click here for the review); it would be nice to see the U class model too, simply because I see the real thing so often!

I have to confess that it was nice to see a U class in olive green, rather than BR lined Black example on the Watercress Line.  The colour (in my opinion) suits the class better and adds a bit of colour.  Like 31806 on the Watercress Line; 1638 is a regular performer on the Bluebell line.  It benefits from being powerful and economical with a decent rate of acceleration that helps in keeping to busy tourist season schedules.  They seem fairly popular with their crews too; overall they’re a decent Southern locomotive for the heritage lines and long may they continue!

Post thread continues, click here to read about the ex-LBSCR E4 0-6-2 Tank engine.

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