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Locomotive Histories

Click on a Locomotive below to read about its history - note that I have duplicated some text where locomotives belong to the same class

Read some brief notes on other main line locomotives on the 'More Locomotive Histories' page here including:
 
850 Lord Nelson

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Nunney Castle at Reading (Nov 2003)

Nunney Castle is a Great Western Railway 4073 ‘Castle’ Class locomotive.  Completed at Swindon works in May 1934, no. 5029 is one of a class of 171 locomotives built between 1923 and 1950.  The design of the ‘Castle’ was based on a previous GWR locomotive the ‘Star’.  The ‘Star’ was introduced in 1907 and designed by GWR engineer G J Churchward.  When Churchward retired in 1922, increasing passenger traffic led to the GWR requiring a replacement for the ‘Star’.  The task of designing a replacement fell to Churchward’s successor Charles Collett.  Collett used an extended version of the ‘Star’s’ frames and by increasing the size of the boiler and the cylinders he created the most powerful locomotive in Britain at that time.  The ‘Castle’ was equipped with a large cab incorporating an extended roof giving the locomotive crew better protection in poor weather.  With the engine’s chimney and safety valve cover finished off in traditional GWR brass, Collett’s finished design would become one of the most famous classes of British steam locomotive.

 

The prototype of the class, no 4073 Caerphilly Castle was displayed next to the new LNER locomotive no. 4472 Flying Scotsman at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924.  The GWR and LNER took part in an exchange trial of these locomotives classes, the LNER being particularly impressed with the economic running of the ‘Castle’. 

 

The ‘Castle’ was still being produced by British Railways following the nationalisation of the railways in 1948 such was the success of the class.  The ‘Castles’ would remain in service almost to the end of BR steam.  On 11 June 1965 ‘Castle’ class no 7029 Clun Castle hauled the last scheduled steam service from Paddington, London.  By the end of 1965 all the ‘Castles’ has been withdrawn from service and by the end of 1968 all steam services had ended in Britain.

 

Nunney Castle was initially allocated to Old Oak Common shed in London.  No. 5029 also worked out of sheds at Worcester and Cardiff East Dock during its time in service.  The locomotive was withdrawn from service in December 1963 and arrived at the scrapyard at Barry, South Wales in May 1964.  Eventually purchased by the Great Western Society, Nunney Castle left Barry in May 1976 and was moved to Didcot.  Following the completion of the restoration of the locomotive in 1991, no. 5029 was moved briefly to the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire. 

 

Nunney Castle has become a regular main line performer in recent years although its seven-year boiler certificate expires in 2006.  Hopefully, this certificate will be renewed and we may continue to enjoy a fine example of one of Britain’s best and most enduring locomotive designs on the main line.

 

Note September 2006:  Nunney Castle is currently undergoing a full overhaul at Tyseley Locomotive Works.  The work will include the fitting of an OTMR (On Train Monitoring Recorder).  This is a type of (Black Box) recorder for trains which will be required for all main line registered steam locomotives in due course.

In 2008 the maintenance work was completed making 5029 available for main line work again.  For more up to date information on 5029 visit the Nunney Castle Support Group.

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Bodmin at Alton (March 2004)

In 1937 O V S Bulleid became Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern railway.  He set about designing some revolutionary, if controversial, locomotives including the Merchant Navy (MN) Class.  The first of this new class was completed at Eastleigh works on 17 February 1941.  Looking unlike any other locomotive at that time the MN Class featured air-smoothed casing, innovative chain driven valve gear and solid looking ‘boxpox’ wheels. It also featured a boiler that was to be the best steam raiser ever developed for a British steam locomotive.

 

Towards the end of World War II Bulleid wanted a locomotive design that would be able to run over the whole Southern network.  One drawback of the MN design was that it was unable to run over the entire network due to its large size and weight.  The answer was a ‘scaled down’ version of the MN class, retaining many of the same features but weighing less.  The resulting class of ‘light Pacifics’ could operate almost anywhere on the Southern network.  Initially named after towns and tourist sites in Southwest England (West Country (WC) Class) and later with a Battle of Britain theme (Battle of Britain (BB) Class). The first of this new class was completed at Eastleigh works in May 1945.

 

No. 34016 Bodmin, named after a Cornish town, is therefore a West Country (WC) class Pacific locomotive.  The term ‘Pacific’ refers to the wheel arrangement, 4-6-2.  Bodmin was completed in November 1945 for the Southern Railway and numbered 21C116.  Named by the Mayor of Bodmin at Bodmin on 28 August 1946.  In 1948 Bodmin was re-numbered 34016 by British Railways following nationalisation of Britain’s railways and worked in the Devon area until 1958. 

 

Take a look at the photographs of Tangmere and Bodmin on the main line pages; notice how different the two locomotives appear.  They are both WC/BB class locomotives.  However, in 1956 a scheme by British Railways to rebuild some 60 of the 110 BB/WC class locomotives to a more conventional design to reduce running costs resulted in Bodmin losing some of its original features. Bodmin was rebuilt in its present form at Eastleigh in April of that year.  A number of alterations were made, most noticeably the replacement of Bulleid`s chain driven valve gear with a more conventional system and removal of the air-smoothed casing.  However, Tangmere was never rebuilt in this way and retains most of its original features.  It is often referred to as ‘unrebuilt’.

 

Following this re-build Bodmin worked firstly in Kent before being based at Eastleigh for the locomotive’s final years in service.  During this time Bodmin worked trains between London and Southampton Docks.  It is therefore quite likely that Bodmin passed through Fleet many years before hauling today's railtours through the town.  Bodmin was withdrawn from service in June 1964 and sent to Woodhams Scrapyard at Barry in South Wales in February 1965 having covered more than 800,000 miles in service…

 

Happily, Bodmin was rescued by John Bunch in 1971 and moved to Quainton Road near Aylesbury, which I believe is now part of the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, before moving to the Mid-Hants Railway (MHR) in November 1976.  Bodmin re-entered service after restoration on 8 September 1979 and was renamed by the mayor of Bodmin two weeks later.  The restoration had taken some 30000 man hours and earned a special mention in the annual awards of the Association of Railway Preservation Societies.

 

Bodmin has been a regular on the main line although at the present time (October 2004), is currently in need of some minor repairs at the Mid-Hants Railway.  Bodmin should hopefully return to main line duties in 2005 but is nevertheless still in service when required on the MHR

 

Note: January 2005

The Mid-Hants Railway has decided to withdraw Bodmin from main line duties and sadly this fine locomotive is unlikely to be seen on the main line in the foreseeable future.

In 1937 O V S Bulleid became Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern railway.  He set about designing some revolutionary, if controversial, locomotives including the Merchant Navy (MN) Class.  The first of this new class was completed at Eastleigh works on 17 February 1941.  Looking unlike any other locomotive at that time, the MN Class featured air-smoothed casing, innovative chain driven valve gear and solid looking ‘boxpox’ wheels. It also featured a boiler that was to be the best steam raiser ever developed for a British steam locomotive. Towards the end of World War II Bulleid wanted a locomotive design that would be able to run over the whole Southern network. 

One drawback of the MN design was that it was unable to run over the entire network due to its large size and weight.  The answer was a ‘scaled down’ version of the MN class, retaining many of the same features but weighing less.  The resulting class of ‘light Pacifics’ could operate almost anywhere on the Southern network.  Initially named after towns and tourist sites in
Southwest England (West Country (WC) Class) and later with a Battle of Britain theme (Battle of Britain (BB) Class). The first of this new class was completed at Eastleigh works in May 1945.
 

Taw valley is a West Country class ‘Pacific’, named after a natural feature of the Devon countryside.  Taw Valley was completed at the Southern Railway locomotive works at Brighton and entered service in April 1946 as no. 21C127.  Although initially allocated to work out of Ramsgate in Kent, in 1947 Taw Valley was moved to Exmouth Junction shed.  From there it worked mainly in Devon and Cornwall and would have been seen at such places as Plymouth and Ilfracombe.  The locomotive would have also hauled named trains such as the ‘Atlantic Coast Express’ and ‘Devon Belle’.  Following the nationalisation of Britain’s railways Taw Valley was renumbered 34027. 

Taw Valley originally looked quite different to the way it does today.  Take a look at the photographs of Tangmere and Taw Valley on the main line pages; notice how different the two locomotives appear.  In 1956 a scheme by British Railways to rebuild some 60 of the 110 BB/WC class locomotives to a more conventional design to reduce running costs resulted in Taw Valley losing some of its original features, most obviously the removal of the air-smoothed casing.  However, Tangmere was never rebuilt in this way and retains most of its original features.  It is often referred to as ‘unrebuilt’. Following the rebuild of Taw Valley at Eastleigh in September 1957, the locomotive was allocated to Bricklayers Arms depot in Southeast London.  Taw Valley continued to work in this area until electrification of the line in 1961.  It then worked commuter services from its original site of construction at Brighton until transferred to Salisbury in 1963.  

Taw Valley was withdrawn from service in August 1964 and towed to Woodhams Scrapyard in Barry, South Wales.  Here it was neglected and left to rust for 16 years until purchased by Bert Hitchen in April 1980.  The locomotive was initially moved to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway for restoration, followed by a spell at the East Lancashire Railway.  The restoration was finally completed at the Severn Valley Railway in 1987. Taw Valley has spent some time in the maroon livery of the ‘Hogwarts Express’ as featured in the ‘Harry Potter’ series of films and novels.  The locomotive was used to promote the fourth book, ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’, and hauled a nation-wide tour train with the book author JK Rowling herself on the train signing books and giving interviews.  The locomotive does not feature in the actual films themselves though, that honour going to Great Western locomotive no. 5972 ‘Olton Hall’. 


Taw
Valley is usually seen running under the guise of long since scrapped sister engine no. 34045 Ottery St Mary and is a regular performer on VSOE excursions.


Note October 2006:

Taw Valley is currently under overhaul at the Severn Valley Railway.  Updates on the progress should be available on the railway's Engineering website or Taw Valley's own webpage.

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Tangmere at Eastleigh (September 2006)

In 1937 O V S Bulleid became Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern Railway.  He set about designing some revolutionary, if controversial, locomotives including the Merchant Navy (MN) Class.  The first of this new class was completed at Eastleigh works on 17 February 1941.  Looking unlike any other locomotive at that time the MN Class featured air-smoothed casing, innovative chain driven valve gear and solid looking ‘boxpox’ wheels. It also featured a boiler that was to be the best steam raiser ever developed for a British steam locomotive. Towards the end of World War II Bulleid wanted a locomotive design that would be able to run over the whole Southern network.  One drawback of the MN design was that it was unable to run over the entire network due to its large size and weight.  The answer was a ‘scaled down’ version of the MN class, retaining many of the same features but weighing less.  The resulting class of ‘light Pacifics’ could operate almost anywhere on the Southern network.  Initially named after towns and tourist sites in Southwest England (West Country (WC) Class) and later with a Battle of Britain theme (Battle of Britain (BB) Class). The first of this new class was completed at Eastleigh works in May 1945. 

Tangmere, named after the military airfield in Sussex, is therefore a (BB) class locomotive, completed at Southern Railway’s Brighton works in September 1947 and given the number 21C167.  This unusual number is based on the ’continental’ system of numbering locomotives as favoured by Bulleid.  The first three indicate the wheel arrangement thus 2 leading axles (4-6-2), 1 trailing axle (4-6-2), and six (C) driving wheels (4-6-2).  The last three digits indicate the series 1(00) ‘light Pacifics’ of which Tangmere is 67th built, so 167.  Following the nationalisation of Britain’s railways Tangmere was renumbered 34067 in July 1949.

 

Take a look at the photographs of Tangmere and Bodmin on the main line pages; notice how different the two locomotives appear now.  In 1956 a scheme by British Railways to rebuild some 60 of the 110 Battle of Britain/West Country class locomotives to a more conventional design to reduce running costs resulted in Bodmin losing some of its original features, most obviously its air-smoothed casing.  However, Tangmere was never rebuilt in this way and retains most of its original features.  It is often referred to as ‘unrebuilt’.

 

Tangmere’s primary mechanical difference to Bodmin is in its innovative chain driven valve gear.  The valves on a steam locomotive control the movement of steam into and out of the cylinders and the valve gear is mechanism controlling the movement of the valves.  This type of valve gear not only needed a high level of maintenance but also was responsible for many fires in the material used for lagging the boiler.  Bodmin had this valve gear replaced with a more conventional system when it was rebuilt.

 

During its time in service Tangmere worked out of sheds at Stewarts Lane (London), Salisbury and finally Eastleigh.

 

After covering almost 700,000 miles, Tangmere was withdrawn from service on 16 November 1963.  In April 1965 Tangmere was moved to Woodhams Scrapyard in Barry, South Wales.  Owned by the late Brian Pickett, Tangmere moved to Mid-Hants Railway in Hampshire for restoration in January 1981.  However most of the restoration has taken place in recent years at the Ian Riley engineering works at Bury, Lancashire.  Finally, early in 2003 Tangmere was returned to steam on the East Lancs Railway.  In March of that year Tangmere was returned to main line running and is now a regular performer throughout the country.  In preservation Tangmere spent some time working out of the old Great Western sheds at Old Oak Common, London.  In 2009 part of the Old Oak Common site was closed to make way for the London Crossrail development. Tangmere is now normally based at Southall depot but is currently (end 2010) at Carnforth undergoing maintenance work and should return to main line working in 2011. 

Tangmere can occasionally be seen at the head of one of the prestigious VSOE tours hauling the delightful Pullman carriage stock.

 

Tangmere is a wonderful example of an outstanding locomotive design.  Seeing it at work over a stretch of the old Southern Railway network only adds to the spectacle. 

No history of British steam locomotives would be complete without a look at the ubiquitous ‘Black Five’. The ‘Black 5’ locomotive was built to a design by William Stanier, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London Midland Scottish Railway (LMSR).  Stanier had joined the LMSR from the Great Western Railway in 1932.  One of his first tasks on joining the LMSR was the design of a much needed ‘general purpose’ locomotive.  The resulting Class 5 engine had a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement.  The design included domeless boilers (the regulator was housed in the smokebox) and a low degree of ‘superheating’. (Superheating is the process whereby the steam generated by the boiler is heated again to increase the energy the steam provides.  The process is performed by a device inside the locomotive.) 

There would be 842 of these ‘mixed traffic’ locomotives built between 1934 and 1951.  Builders would include the famous Vulcan Foundry at Newton-le-Willows and an order for 227 locomotives from Armstrong Whitworth on Tyneside.  The contract with Armstrong-Whitworth was the largest ever placed by a British railway company for a single locomotive.
 The locomotive proved itself able to go virtually anywhere on the network and could deal with all types of goods and passenger services.  Carrying the black LMSR livery, this Class 5 locomotive, became known as simply a ‘Black 5’. The design was developed over the years and several experimental versions emerged post nationalisation in 1948.  Indeed, the design of the British Railways (BR) Standard Class 5MT owes much to Stanier's design. The versatility of the ‘Black 5’ would ensure their survival to the very end of BR Steam.  The class hauled the very last steam hauled passenger service in Britain on 4th August 1968.  The following week three ‘5’s’ were among the locomotives chosen to haul the last of many special rail tours marking the end of BR Steam.  It is perhaps then, unsurprising, that many have found their way into preservation, including of course, no 45231. 

45231 was infact one of the 227 Armstrong Whitworth built locomotives.  Built in 1936, 45231 is one of the older designs.  The as yet unnamed locomotive, was originally numbered 5231 and usually worked out of Patricroft Shed in Manchester, covering North Wales and across the Pennines in Yorkshire.  Following nationalisation the locomotive was renumbered 45231 by BR.  A brief transfer to Northampton in 1954 was followed by nine years at Aston Shed in Birmingham.  45231 worked several other sheds in service, notably several years at Chester and finally working from Carnforth when the end of BR Steam arrived in 1968.  45231 would work the last ever steam hauled ballast train for BR on the Furness Line in Cumbria. Still on site at Carnforth following the end of BR Steam, 45231 was purchased by Michael Stephenson for preservation at Carnforth.  Surplus to requirements and threatened with closure, Carnforth sheds were eventually taken over by a private consortium that would eventually lead to the creation of ‘Steamtown’ a live steam museum.  45231 would have been one of Steamtown’s founding preservation engines. 

In 1973, 45231 moved to the Great Central Railway (GCR) at Loughborough, Leicestershire and would haul the official opening train on this new preservation railway to Quorn on September 30th 1973.  In 1976 45231 finally received a name; 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment.  The following year the locomotive was withdrawn for a full overhaul.  This overhaul was completed in 1988 and in 1989 45231 moved to the Nene Valley Railway.  In 1993 45231 again returned to the GCR for the filming of Richard Attenborough’s ‘Shadowlands’.  45231 was purchased by the GCR in 1996 and the following year received a new set of nameplates carrying the simplified name The Sherwood Forester.   By 2003 The Sherwood Forester had been purchased by Bert Hitchen with the intention of restoring the locomotive the mainline standard.  This work would be undertaken at Loughborough Works on the GCR.  Following this work 45231 moved to the Mid-Hants Railway in February 2005 to run some mainline tours for Steam Dreams.  Following a mainline test run from Alton to Fratton, the first mainline appearance for the loco since 1968, 45231 hauled its first tour to Canterbury from London Victoria on Wednesday 29 June 2005.   In January 2007, 45231 is due to move from the Mid-Hants to the East Lancashire Railway. 


Along with mainline classmate no. 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier, it is remarkable to find examples of the ‘Black 5’ in regular use on Britain’s railway network, nearly forty years after the end of BR Steam.   However, given their place in the history of British steam locomotives, it is wholly appropriate to still find preserved examples of the ‘Black 5’ at work on
Britain’s mainline railways.

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73096 runs round its train at Alresford on the MHR

Following the nationalisation of Britain’s railways in 1948, a team led by R A Riddles were given the task of designing new, modern, more versatile types of locomotive.  There would be 12 new British Railways ‘Standard’ designs including nine types of locomotives with tenders.

 

The new class 5MT (mixed traffic) 4-6-0 locomotive that emerged in fact owed much of its design to the pre-nationalisation William Stanier designed ‘Black 5’ of the LMSR, (‘5’ denotes the relative power of the locomotive on a scale of 1 – 9).  However, the opportunity was taken to include some improvements of particular benefit to the footplate crews such as controls that were within easy reach of the seats.

 

No. 73096 was built at the BR Derby works in 1955 and allocated to the Patricroft (Manchester) shed. 73096 also had spells at Shrewsbury, Gloucester and Nuneaton until withdrawn from service in 1967. The locomotive was taken to Woodhams Scrapyard at Barry in South Wales where it languished until 1985 when it was rescued by a member of the Mid Hants Railway albeit minus its tender.

 

73096 underwent restoration at Ropley and was completed in October 1993. A new tender was constructed on an ex-LMS Stanier ‘Black 5’ tender chassis. Originally restored as no. 73080 Merlin and painted in BR lined black livery the locomotive was subsequently renumbered to 73096 and the name removed. The locomotive was also repainted in BR lined green, a livery that was first applied when the engine was allocated to Shrewsbury in 1958. It was normal practice for a class ‘5’ locomotive, allocated to the Western Region, to wear the green passenger livery instead of the normal lined black.

 

73096 has become a regular and reliable performer on the mainline hauling railtours from London to such destinations as Salisbury, Exeter, Yeovil and Canterbury. The locomotive remains a stalwart of passenger services on the Mid Hants Railway when not undertaking mainline duties. Given its age it must be hoped that 73096 will be in service for many years to come.

 

Note: January 2005

The Mid-Hants Railway has decided to withdraw 73096 from mainline duties and sadly this fine locomotive is unlikely to be seen on the mainline again for the forseeable future.

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Duke of Gloucester at Winchfield (July 2006)

In October 1952 `Princess Royal` Class locomotive Princess Anne no 46202 was destroyed in a terrible accident at Harrow and Wealdstone Station in London.  This locomotive was originally a prototype steam-turbine driven locomotive designed by William Stanier.  With no cylinders no. 46202 used two turbines to provide power to the front driving wheels.  At the time of the accident, however, Princess Anne had been rebuilt in more conventional form.  In any case the untimely destruction of this loco was to leave a gap in the engines able to serve on the West Coast Mainline.

 

Four years before the Harrow and Wealdstone accident R A Riddles and his team were engaged in designing a new range of `Standard` Class locomotives for the fledgling British Railways.  Riddles had wanted to include a locomotive in the same power class as the `Princess Royal` but this had been rejected on the grounds of cost.  After the accident Riddles` proposal of building a prototype locomotive to replace Princess Anne was accepted.  The resulting Standard Class 8 locomotive no. 71000 Duke of Gloucester was completed at Crewe Works in 1954.  Representing the pinnacle of British passenger locomotive design no. 71000 would be the only loco of this class ever produced.  Three cylinders coupled with British Caprotti valve gear and a recommendation of a Kylchap exhaust system should have produced an outstanding machine.  Sadly Duke of Gloucester was fitted with an inferior exhaust in production.  Other compromises resulted in a locomotive that never performed to its full potential.

 

71000 was withdrawn in 1962 after only eight years in service.  Although listed for preservation as part of the National collection, its poor performance led to only the left hand `Caprotti` cylinder being preserved.  This cylinder was displayed in sectioned form at the Science Museum in London.  With the right hand cylinder also removed and subjected to trial sectioning the locomotive was consigned to scrap at Woodham Bros. in Barry.

 

The Duke of Gloucester Locomotive trust eventually acquired the badly decayed remains.  Restoration began in 1975, taking the opportunity to make many improvements, including the fitting of the correct exhaust system.  The locomotive was returned to mainline running in 1990.

 

71000 has since fulfilled its full potential with some outstanding performances on the mainline.  Coupled with its modern looks, Duke of Gloucester is an icon of mainline steam in the 21st century and a credit to all those involved in its restoration and continued preservation.