Dugald Drummond designed the successful T9 Class 4-4-0 locomotive for express passenger work on the London and South Western Railway, using the experience he gained from designing the less than perfect C8 Class by incorporating large fireboxes and Stephenson link valve gear to improve performance.The first fifty of the class were confidently ordered straight from the drawing board and constructed between 1899 and 1900. Twenty were built at the LSWR's own workshop at Nine Elms in London, with thirty being built by Dübs & Company in Glasgow, all supplied with six wheel tenders.
In all, a total of sixty six Class T9s were built, a further fifteen were outshopped from the Nine Elms Workshop between 1900 and 1901. These locomotives incorporated some modifications which included a wider cab, revised wheel splashers and the fitting of cross-water tubes inside the firebox, along with the connection of the Drummond 'watercart' eight wheel tender to enable longer running. The previous batches were later retro-fitted with the same modifications. The 66th and final T9 was built by Dübs & Co in 1901 for the Glasgow Exhibition of that year.
Built specifically for the highly competitive express train services from Plymouth to London, they quickly came into their own. Popular with their crews, their high turn of speed soon earned them the nickname of 'Greyhounds' as the comparatively short frames and light axle weight particularly suited the tighter curves of lines on the West Country routes.Upon Drummond's death in 1912, his successor, Robert Urie, modified some of the class with superheaters, but their sterling performance as a class precluded any further major modifications, apart from the removal of the cross-water tubes, an enlarged smokebox, addition of a stovepipe chimney and an increase to the cylinder bore.
After initial service with the London & South Western Railway, the class passed to the Southern Railway when the railways were regrouped in 1923. At Nationalisation in 1948, all sixty six locomotives passed to the newly formed British Railways and by 1959 there were still twenty locomotives in service, but by 1963 the last of the class was withdrawn.On July 17th 1935, locomotive No.119, often rostered for special duties, was completely painted in green livery with lined out wheels, highly burnished metalwork and the Royal Coat of Arms to haul the King's Royal Train to Portsmouth for the Silver Jubilee Naval Review. Subsequently, 119 was always kept for use as the Royal engine.
As an experiment, just ahead of Nationalisation in 1947, thirteen of the T9s were converted to oil burning but the experiment was not a success and all were withdrawn from service in October 1948. The only survivor of the Class, No. 30120, was preserved and is now serving on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway. Locomotive No.116 emerged from the works at Nine Elms in July 1899, spending nearly 52 years in service before being withdrawn in May 1951.
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