Tag Archives: 30777 Sir Lamiel

The Holy Grail

777blkwhtgdsNever did get a go on an ‘Arthur’ but, I did get more than one on the ‘goods Arthurs’ – the S15 4-6-0s, which were still in service in 1963, when I arrived on the Southern. Based on the S15, designed by Robert Urie, the REL Maunsell version gained a few refinements and lost a stove pipe chimney. Built at Eastleigh, the first batch of fifteen engines entered service between 1927 & 8, they continued in traffic until almost the end of steam on the Southern, a handful still being active in 1965.

Maunsell, like Urie, favoured designs offering easy maintenance a feature which extended to the footplate, Spartan utility pretty much sums them up. There may have been a certain sparseness about the cab, but they steamed well enough, and that’s what really counts. It’s a good few years back now, but I seem to recall a night goods turn where we worked down to Basingstoke yard and then worked back with the first commuter service the following morning. This turn was usually one of Maunsell’s engines, if not an S15, then a U or N class 2-6-0. The ‘up’ commuter working was usually a WC / B-o-B 4-6-2, sometimes a BR class 5 Standard – aka ‘Standard Arthurs’ owing to a number of them being given the names from scrapped members of the original N15 ‘King  Arthur’ class.

The photo shows the NRM’s N15 King Arthur Class 4-6-0  No.777 Sir Lamiel, oozing steam in true 1960s fashion, if not livery, with a ‘demo’ goods train during the GCR’s Autumn gala.

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Once a Knight


The disc being carried by No.30777 Sir Lamiel, is probably meant to signify that she is hauling a stopping passenger service. In her Southern days it would have indicated something rather different. It could have indicated that No.30777 Sir Lamiel, was working Victoria – Dover via Chatham, a turn she would no doubt have been familiar with, or Woking – Reading via Virginia Water west curve, a route she might have taken less often, or even Exeter Central – Ilfracombe, amongst several other possible routes. The essential thing, I suppose, is that the disc gives the signalman important information about the train, just as the tail lamp, or lack of one, does.

No. 30777 Sir Lamiel is part of the National Collection and is, as a result, in the custody of the National Railway Museum. In practice however, she is cared for, on a day to day basis, by the 5305 Locomotive Association at Loughborough. No.30777 Sir Lamiel is also part of the pool of engines certified for use on the main line and has, over many years, put in some fine performances, particularly on the Settle – Carlisle route and her old stamping grounds on the LSWR routes from London Waterloo to Weymouth via Southampton or Waterloo to Exeter via Salisbury, both routes I know from my own footplate days.

For most of their independent existence the Great Western and the London South Western / Southern Railway were bitter rivals in almost everything from the carriage of Atlantic Mails, to milk traffic and summer specials full of holiday makers. Having worked for BR Southern region I know a little about this rivalry at ground level,  so there’s always this little frisson when I see sights like one in the photograph, Southern engine, chocolate and cream rolling stock, and on GW metals. However, Sir Lamiel, or to give him his full title Sir Lamiel of Cardiff, obviously had some GWR in his veins, as he  does look quite at home with the rake of GWR stock, approaching Leigh Lane crossing on the West Somerset Railway between Williton and Crowcombe Heathfield.

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