Billington E2 tank locomotive 104 (Hornby R353)
The loco is marked "SOUTHERN 104" and has white lining and a black cab roof. The underside of the loco shell moulding is marked R353-010.
The original locomotive
Five of the original batch of E2 locos were built in 1914-15, numbered 100 to 104, followed by a modified "second series", as a further batch of five (105-109).
The E2's were general-purpose tank locos primarily used for shunting, but could also pull passenger trains at a stretch. Modifications to the second series included forward-protruding extensions to the water-tanks to increase capacity.
Number 104 (the last of the first series) was built at the beginning of 1915 and ran until 1963.
The main interest in the Billinton E2 lies in the use of the modified second series locos (the further batch of five) as the basis of the shape of Thomas the Tank Engine.
When Hornby's runs of the R353 "first-series" E2 model ended, the company freshened up and revised the mouldings for a different locomotive model, and instead of converting them to a standard E2 second-series, adapted them further, to create the Hornby model of Thomas the Tank Engine (based on the second-series). R353 is therefore the direct ancestor of the Hornby "Thomas" model, the possibility of a "plain" second-series loco having been skipped over.