William Adams (1823-1904) had been locomotive superintendent of the North London Railway (1858-1873) and Great Eastern Railway (1873-1878) prior to his appointment as locomotive superintendent of the London & South Western Railway. He held the position for 17 years before his retirement in 1895. During his career with the LSWR, 524 locomotives were built to his design. At the time that he was locomotive superintendent, the LSWR’s main workshops were at Nine Elms and the site there was expanded during Adams’s tenure. Locomotive work was moved to Eastleigh in 1909 with the carriage and wagon work having been relocated to Hampshire prior to that date.
At the time of Adams’s appointment, the LSWR faced the challenge of increasing commuter traffic as the suburbs of London experienced rapid growth during the late-19th century. The LSWR was ill-equipped to operate commuter services efficiently and so Adams was tasked with producing a design of locomotive that could undertake these services efficiently. The new locomotives required power and compactness with small wheels to achieve maximum acceleration on tight and intensive schedules. Adams decided on the 0-4-4T wheel arrangement and the ‘02’ class was the second of his 0-4-4T designs to emerge, following on from the ‘T1’ class of 1888 of which 50 were built between 1888 and 1896.
The ‘02’ class was introduced in 1889. In all, 60 were built in five batches between then and 1894; the locomotives were all built at Nine Elms and were numbered 177-236 by the LSWR. Deigned to replace the old Beattie well tanks and other older designs, the ‘02s’ were themselves destined to have a relatively short life on commuter services, being replaced by the more powerful ‘M7’ class of 0-4-4T from 1897 onwards. As a result, they were transferred elsewhere on the LSWR system, where their low weight and short wheelbase made them ideal for use on branch line services. In the early 20th century, the Isle of Wight Central Railway made an enquiry about the possibility of purchasing some of the class; ironically, in the light of future events, this was not pursued.
All 60 of the class were still in service when the Southern Railway was established at the Grouping in 1923. The SR retained the original LSWR numbers for the class. Following the Grouping, however, two of the ‘02’ class were modified at Eastleigh works with the fitting of Westinghouse air brakes to make them compatible with the coaching stock on the Isle of Wight and were shipped across. Tested on the entire network, but principally on the line from Ryde to Ventnor, the ‘02s’ proved their worth.
In all, between 1923 and the outbreak of war in 1939, a total of 21 of the class were modified and transferred to the Isle of Wight, where they were renumbered and named as listed below; the final two examples transferred in 1949, shortly after British Railways was established. One problem with the class was the relatively small coal bunker; when No 206 was prepared for transfer as No W19 in 1942, it was modified by a the provision of a much extended bunker. This design became the standard for all the ‘02s’ on the Isle of Wight.
The locomotives were numbered and named as follows:
Back on the mainland, electrification and the introduction of new locomotive classes saw the class’ workload decline, resulting in 12 of the class withdrawn for scrap, leaving 48 in service when British Railways was established in 1948. Those still in service on the mainland were renumbered into the 30xxx sequence; those on the Isle of Wight retained their Wxx numbers.
Withdrawal of the class on the mainland resumed in early 1953 but the majority were withdrawn in the late 1950s and early 1960s as the branch lines over which they operated were closed or converted to diesel operation. The last example on the mainland, No 30225, was withdrawn in December 1962.
By that time the number of ‘O2s’ on the Isle of Wight had also been slightly reduced. Four of the class — Nos. W15/W19/W23/W34 — were withdrawn in 1955/56 and a fifth — No W25 — followed in December 1962. This left a total of 18 still in service. By the early 1960s, the railway network on the Isle of Wight had shrunk to two routes: Ryde to Ventnor and Ryde to Cowes via Newport. Under the Beeching Report of March 1963 both routes were threatened with closure; in the event, and while the lines from Smallbrook Junction to Cowes and Shanklin to Ventnor did close — on 21 February 1966 and 18 April 1966 respectively — the section from Ryde to Shanklin was retained and electrified.
Of the 18 survivors in 1963, the first to be withdrawn were No W34 in September 1964 and No W32 in the following month; two — Nos. W18/W30 — followed in 1965 and four —Nos. W21/W26/W29/W35 — in 1966. This left 10 — Nos. W14/W16/W17/W20/W22/W24/W27/W28/W31/W33 — still in service when the final steam operation of the Ryde-Shanklin service occurred on 31 December 1966. Of the 10, eight were withdrawn for scrap following the end of steam services but two — Nos. W24 and W31 — were retained to assist with the engineering work involved in converting the line for third-rail electrification. Once the work was completed, the final two locomotives were withdrawn in March 1967.
Although there were attempts to preserve both of the survivors, only No. W24 was secured and No. W31 was to be scrapped. Today, No. W24 remains on the Isle of Wight, preserved on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway as the only example of the 60-strong class to survive.