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8457 History by Tom Whitbread

Krauss No. 8457 – The ‘Train from Spain’

Maertens ‘Liliputloks’

A History

By Tom Whitbread

In 1925 Krauss of Munich, an Austro-German engineering company specialising in railway locomotives, produced the first of it’s class ‘K3/6’ engines.   These 15” gauge, 1/3rd scale 4-6-2 pacific locomotives were intended to operate on the miniature railways commonly found at the large, open air exhibitions then popular throughout Europe.  Ultimately, they were to become one of the most numerous classes of 15” gauge locomotive, with fifteen examples constructed between 1925 and 1950, as well as three similar locos constructed in 1937 by Krupp of Essen.  Indeed, among German enthusiasts they are known as ‘Maertens’sche Einheitsliliputlokomotive’ – ‘Maerten’s Standard Miniature Engines’ which reflects the ‘Einheitslokomotive’ – standard engines – built by the German State Railways between the first and second world wars.

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PHOTO:  Roland Maertens aboard one of his ‘K3’6’ class Pacifics.

They were designed by Roland Maertens, Chief Engineer of Krauss’ Light Railways Division, and a close friend and confidant of Henry Greenly, designer of the R&ER’s ‘River Esk’ as well as the fine pacifics built for the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, in Kent.  These latter engines were based closely in their styling upon Gresley’s LNER pacifics, including the famous ‘Flying Scotsman’.  Likewise,  Maertens ‘K3/6’ locomotives were based loosely upon contemporary German express locomotives, in particular the Bavarian class S3/6 built by Krauss’ rival firm, Maffei of Munich.

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PHOTO:  A Royal Bavarian Railways class ‘S3/6’, as built.  ‘3/6’ was a contemporary continental wheel notation for a 4-6-2 Pacific locomotive, while ‘S’ stood for schnell, i.e. a fast (express) locomotive.

Both Greenly and Maertens produced their miniature Pacifics in the same year, and Greenly’s influence was apparent in many elements of Maerten’s design.  Most notably, both were built to 1/3rd rather than the more accurate ¼ scale.  This over scale construction allowed for more robust and more powerful locomotives, suitable for the demanding commercial applications envisaged for both Greenly’s and Maertens’ locomotives.

Between the wars the majority of these engines led nomadic lives, operating in one location only for a few months or a year, then moving on once the exhibition they were attending was over.  Though the majority of their lives were spent in Germany, members of the class spent time as far afield as Cork and Barcelona.

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PHOTO:  A ‘K3/6’ at work on the temporary railway at the Barcolona International Exposition, 1929.

In 1937 three similar 15” gauge pacifics were built by Krupp of Essen for an exhibition in Duesseldorf,  Krauss-Maffei having full order books at the time (presumably through being fully engaged in Germany’s rearmament!).  The Krupp engines were undoubtedly closely based on Maertens’ design, but were slightly larger and considerably more massive in appearance.  They were inspired more closely by German State Railway’s muscular ‘01’ class standard express engines, than by the more graceful Bavarian ‘S3/6’s of a decade earlier.

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PHOTO: One of the 15” gauge Krupp pacifics, showing its more massive proportions compared to the Krauss built locomotives.

Scattered across Europe at the outbreak of the Second World War, two members of the class (works nos. 8443/4) disappeared altogether somewhere in France, but the remainder of the class survived and found employment on new or revived pleasure lines on both sides of the Iron Curtain.  The temporary exhibition railway was now a thing of the past in Europe, but permanent lines flourished, whether built solely for entertainment or for the education of a new, socialist youth, as was the case in East Germany.  Three new members of the class, to the original, 1925 design, were built in 1950. Two went to an Existing line in Stuttgart, while the third, gifted to Indian Railways, became by far the most far flung member of the class, operating for many years in a New Delhi park.

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PHOTO:   Indian President Jawaharlal Nehru on the footplate of the last built Maertens Pacific, 1950.

Though they had travelled widely in the inter-war years, none of these 1/3rd scale German pacifics had ever operated in the UK until 1972, when Maennertreu and Rosenkavalier, both Krupp engines, arrived at the Bressingham Steam Centre to operate the new Waveney Valley Railway.  In 1976 the third of these 1937 built locos also arrived on these shores, to become the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway’s  No. 11 Black Prince.  The RH&DR already had a much smaller locomotive from Maertens on its books, in the shape of No. 4 The Bug, but the sight of a Maertens designed, Krauss built pacific in the UK has been elusive – until now!

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PHOTO:  General arrangement drawing of a ‘K3/6’.

No. 8457, the ‘Train from Spain’, will be the first of its kind ever to run in the UK – but it is also more than that.  As a product of the Henry Greenly design tradition of miniature and minimum gauge locomotives, it occupies an important place in the evolutionary tree of 15” gauge engines.  It’s design was inspired by the R&ERs River Esk, was developed in parallel with the R&ER’s pacifics, and represents a ‘halfway house’ between Edwardian scale models and robust, narrow gauge outline locos like the R&ERs Northern Rock.  No. 8457 is a fitting addition to the R&ERs varied and historically significant loco fleet – and one with a real story to tell!