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The London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) E2 Class was a class of 0-6-0T steam locomotives designed by Lawson Billinton, intended for shunting and short distance freight trains. Ten examples were built between 1913 and 1916. As a result of the association with the fictional Thomas the Tank Engine this minor class of tank locomotives must rank as one of the best known steam locomotive classes of all time.


By 1910 many of the Stroudley E1 class locomotives were worn out or inadequate for the heavier duties required of them. D. E. Marsh intended to rebuild some examples with a larger boiler, but only one E1X rebuild had been completed by the time of his unexpected retirement. Marsh's successor Billinton reversed this policy and instead ordered five new, more powerful locomotives from Brighton worksmarker. The new class included several features found on other LB&SCR classes including an I2 class boiler. They were delivered between June 1913 and January 1914.

The design was successful, except that they were found to have inadequate water supply. Thus when a further order for five locomotives was placed they were given extended side tanks. The second batch were delayed by the onset of the war but were eventually delivered between June 1915 and October 1916.


The E2 class locomotives were mainly used for the heavier shunting and short distance freight duties in the Londonmarker area and on the south coast, as their small coal bunkers made them unsuitable for long trips. These included empty stock workings at Victoriamarker and London Bridge Stations.

They were tried as passenger locomotives with two locomotives in the middle of a long rake of coaches, but never continued this duty as other, larger, locomotives could do this more efficiently and faster.

Following the electrification of the Brighton line in 1936 the class was used as replacements for the former London Chatham and Dover Railway T class at the Herne Hillmarker marshalling yard, around Victoria station and at Dovermarker harbour. During the Second World War they also replaced the SR Z class at Hither Greenmarker marshalling yard.

In the mid-1950s the class were tried out as shunters at Southampton Docksmarker, and found to be useful, and six examples were retained for this purpose until their replacement by British Rail Class 07 diesel shunters in 1962.

Withdrawal of the class took place between February 1961 and April 1963. None has survived to preservation.

Locomotive summary

Thomas the Tank Engine

In 1946 the Rev. W. Awdry used the later series of E2 locomotives for the character Thomas the Tank Engine in the second book of The Railway Series.

00 gauge models

Hornby produced the locomotive in its earliest form as an 00 gauge model. Production lasted from 1979 to 1985, and the model was later used as the basis for the Thomas the Tank Engine model.

Bachmann have also produced several different-coloured E2-based models in their Junior Range, based on their Thomas model. These are considerably smaller than the Hornby variant, as Bachmann's models were based on the engines of the TV series instead of the "real" loco.


  1. Bradley, (1974) p.128
  2. Bradley, (1974) pp.129–131

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