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A web-site by Rob Speare

   

Bulleid's 'Leader' Class - In The Works.

Photos : courtesy of Mike Morant collection.

Although Leader had many components of a normal steam locomotive, the way they were laid out did cause a new set of problems to be solved.

And given the profile of the project, development of Leader was fairly secretive, and as problems appeared they were hushed up - those working hard to make the project succeed did not want management thinking them to be incompetant; so we can be sure many (normal) teething problems were never reported.

Video clip courtesy of Southern Railway Films.

This amazing video clip taken during the build, includes the operation of the oscillating sleeve valves, and is certainly pretty unique.

Bulleid left before the Leader project was finished, and there's no doubt that at the start this was a project he was determined to push through.  But as Nationalisation approached and difficulties with the build loomed, his focus shifted to his new employer C.I.E, in Ireland.  There he found the chance to design an equally challenging, though smaller, double bogied steam loco - the Turf Burner.

Leader never had the modern control gear that might have allowed it to work well - perhaps just a little too ahead of its time.  Perhaps oil firing and the application of today's techologies may have have allowed it to have availabilty for use more comparable with many diesel classes, as originally conceived.