William Kirtley took over as locomotive superintendent of the railway following the death of William Martley in 1874. Martley's Europa class 2-4-0 were performing well on the lightly loaded Dover-Flushing boat trains but a larger engine was required for some of the heavier services on the main line. Kirtley therefore designed a 4-4-0 for this purpose. The six locomotives were built by Neilson and Company of Glasgow and introduced during June and July 1877. They proved to be successful for these tasks and were only superseded on the heaviest trains by the larger M3 class The locomotives passed to the South Eastern and Chatham Railway in 1899 and were considered to be sufficiently useful to be worth re-boilering between 1899 and 1903. The class began to be withdrawn and scrapped from 1911.