Designed by Richard Maunsell for the Southern Railway in 1930, the "V Class" - better known as the "Schools Class" as all locomotives were named after English public schools - was intended to meet a need for an intermediate passenger locomotive for routes needed power, but couldn't handle large express engines. Essentially a cut-down "Lord Nelson" class, Maunsell used the round-topped firebox from the "King Arthur" class, which had the useful side-effect of making the "Schools" narrow enough for routes such as Tonbridge to Hastings with a restricted loading gauge.

926 ‘Repton’ was completed at Eastleigh in May 1934. After a spell at Bournemouth it operated from Fratton (Portsmouth) depot until the Waterloo-Portsmouth route was electrified in July 1937. It was then one of ten ‘Schools’ locomotives transferred to Bournemouth as replacements for ‘King Arthurs’ on the London expresses. It remained at Bournemouth for most of the war, being used on the lighter expresses and, after the war, on inter-regional trains. Further electrification caused more moves of these locomotives and ‘Repton’ was withdrawn from Basingstoke depot, with the remaining members of the class, on 30 December, 1962, just 2 years after a major service.

Restored at Eastleigh by 1966, Repton was donated by her purchaser to Steamtown USA in Vermont, who in turn loaned her to the Cape Breton Steam Railway in Canada. Some modifications were made to her to satisfy US/Canadian running requirements, most notably a high-sided coal tender - though this pattern of tender had been seen on other "Schools" in BR service.

Repton is now back in service, in Southern Railways Olive Green under her old number 926.

Pic: Jenna Thomas