11th January 2021 · On-Line Meeting: The Southern Electric Locomotives

Presenter: Simon Lilley

With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing and the reintroduction of the “lockdown” we began 2021 with a “Zoom” meeting on Monday 11th January attended by 63 participants, when Simon Lilley gave a presentation on “The Southern Electric Locomotives.” This was a subject that was probably not high on the priorities of many local enthusiasts whose interests ranged from steam locomotives to electric multiple units. The first two locomotives (numbered CC1 and CC2) were constructed at Ashford Works in 1940/1 and 1945 respectively to a design developed by the Southern Railway, under Chief Mechanical Engineer O. V. S. Bulleid and Chief Electrical Engineer Alfred Raworth, and the English Electric Company from 1936. During wartime service the class proved its worth on 1,000 ton freight trains and 750 ton passenger trains. While current collection was normally from a third rail system these locomotives were also fitted with small pantographs for operation in marshalling yards and freight sidings. Simon’s presentation was augmented by John Wenyon with detailed information about the “booster control” which overcame problems caused by “gapping” on the third rail system. After nationalisation CC1 and CC2 were renumbered 20001 and 20002 respectively and joined by 20003, eventually becoming class 70, although commonly known as ‘Hornbys’. All three locomotives were withdrawn during 1968/9.

After a short tea break Simon moved to the Class 71 locomotives. These were introduced in 1958 for the Kent Coast Coast Electrification scheme, part of the British Transport Commission modernisation plan, and, like Class 70, were “booster control” third rail machines with a pantograph for use in yards. They were built at Doncaster Works and numbered from E5000 to E5023 (although E5000 was later renumbered E5024). Intended for use as mixed traffic locomotives on the Kent Coast main lines, they were familiar sights on the Night Ferry and Golden Arrow services. Many were later placed in store as surplus to requirements, ten being converted at Crewe Works to electro-diesel locomotives as Class 74 in 1967-8 for use on the Bournemouth electrification.