By Brian Wilson


Small locomotives often seem to possess more than their fair share of charm and character, and the 18″ gauge Hunslets are certainly no exception.

The first of these was “Jack”, ordered by John Knowles (Wooden Box) Ltd for its Newfields Fireclay Mines Tramway in 1897, and delivered in October 1898 as Works No.684. It seems that “Jack” was a successful locomotive and it was used as the main motive power until after the First World War.

Hunslet Works photo of “Jack”

“Jack” at Armley Mills
Photo by: Len Royles

This locomotive formed the basis of a slightly larger design, the “Waril” class which was oil-fired and designed for The War Department. They purchased twelve of these for use at the Royal Army Service Corps Deptford Special Reserve Depot on the south bank of the Thames.

After the war, John Knowles ordered a further locomotive from the Hunslet Company, and this was a coal-fired version of the Waril class which they named “Gwen”. “Gwen” was delivered in 1920 and became the main workhorse until 1958, with “Jack” relegated to spare.

Some of these locomotives also found their way to the miniature estate railway at Sand Hutton and further information can be found in Mark Smither’s book “18 inch gauge Steam Railways”

Happily, both “Jack” and “Gwen” were spared the breakers torch and have been restored, Gwen in the USA and Jack at Armley Mills – Leeds Industrial Museum.

The Model

I first heard of these engines in an article in Garden Rail No. 110 by David Pinniger and was immediately smitten, as I am sure many others were.

18″ gauge scales out very closely to 7/8ths inch to the foot on 32mm track, and with a slight widening, the wheels can be made adjustable to 45mm. I already had an 0-4-0 chassis design which had been successfully used on several models, so with this as a basis, and using Hunslet’s works drawing of the Waril class,  a chassis was drawn up using Roundhouse cylinders.

Chassis ready to test on air

About this time interest was mounting in the Steammodelloco 16mm Yahoo Group to build this model so Kevin Steele kindly arranged for sets of laser parts to be cut and I was able to provide some lost wax castings. A little later, Keith Bucklitch organised a set of etches for the cab. These parts help to speed up the building process considerably.

The smokebox was made using laser parts and some castings.

The first model was built using a Roundhouse boiler, although the bush spacing only allowed one sand dome to be fitted, whilst for the second model I made a boiler which had the two sand domes and a water gauge.

Roundhouse boiler and cab fittings

Boiler with two sand domes and water gauge

Radio was fitted on throttle, reverser and whistle, and the batteries and receiver were able to be fitted underneath the cab floor, hidden under a fitted plate.

Receiver and batteries hidden under cab floor

Numerous lost wax castings were used, some functional and some cosmetic. As well as those which I made myself, the excellent ones for the cab whistle, couplings and the lubricators were obtained from Talisman Castings.

Many other excellent models have been made of these little locomotives. As well as the previously mentioned models by Harvey Watkins using the Roundhouse Billy chassis, Paul Pettipher has built a lovely model from scratch using laser cuts and castings.

Paul Pettipher’s “Jack”

Mike Bone’s “Jack” being admired by a small Mike!!!

Another model by an unknown builder

Brian Wilson