When I wrote the first book I was rather guilty of somewhat glossing over the 2-4-0s in the Armstrong and Dean eras. There were so many of them, they were rebuilt so much and I just found them confusing and, dare I say it, not that interesting. I'm paying for it now! Working up my experimental chronologically based GWR locomotive history I'm in into the late 1860s, early 1870s, and they are becoming impossible to avoid! I have to wonder, incidentally, why, with standard goods engines and standard tank engines in numbers there were so many different ones.
The old Gooch era 149s built by Englands and the Joseph Armstrong's 111 class from Wolverhampton were adequately documented, but then...
Next was the 439 class. Intriguing beats, because they were an early Joseph Armstrong product at Swindon, and looked almost exactly like broad gauge engines. When they were rebuilt/renewed later just about everything was changed, so there are no clues there. So what do we have? Russell has nothing. No drawings at GWS or NRM. Ahrons in British steam has nothing I can see. RCTS has one rather unclear photograph and a bare minimum of dimensions. There was a thread here some years ago, but even @MikeOxon doesn't seem to have found much other than a slightly better version of the same photograph. So I wondered about Ahrons original article in "The Locomotive". You may be aware that Ahrons wrote a whole series of articles on early GWR locomotives for the Locomotive, typically illustrated with his simple line drawings, which have been widely reproduced, notably in Holcroft's books and his own "British Steam Locomotive", and which I have made wide use of for my drawings. I discovered, to my surprise and delight, that the RCTS archives are at Leatherhead station, just a few miles from where I live, and they have a complete run of"The Locomotive". So I joined up and yesterday spent a useful but very chilly couple of hours perusing the bound issues. And yes, Ahrons does cover the 439s in the magazine issue. But the article was written a few years after the previous one, and he is eschewing his line drawings for photographs, which for the 1870s are presumably increasingly available. And I turned to it and:
Yes, its the same photograph, although the reproduction is better so it's a lot clearer. It's a nice profile at least, I could do a hell of a lot worse.
Now this morning I've come to the 481s, which were the next batch at Swindon. Very much the same dimensions, but visually quite unlike. And another I happily glossed over in the book. And what do I find in RCTS? A similarly tiny profile photo. In Russell - only the renewals, again rather different, and in Holcroft little enough too. So, slightly discouraged, I'm writing this blog post to let off steam! Really I don't think there's much of a way round it, I need to produce something. Perhaps I should make them plain line outlines and much more diagramattic than my usual ones to make it plain they are, well, rather sketchy sketches!