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Ian Atherton

We're sad to report that Ian Atherton, a long serving volunteer at Herston works, passed away on 9th November at the age of 81. Ian had been a Southern Locomotives volunteer for around 20 years, working mainly in the painting team.


Ian's career was in the justice department, and he would regale us with tales from his time as a Crown Court Clerk. He was also an active member of the tea break crossword club, in which banter generally came before finding a correct answer.

December 2017

34072 257 Squadron

After several weeks delay to perform a further hydraulic test to the boiler and superheater header work has begun to commission 34072. A 'warming' fire was lit on 20th November, and steam was raised on 29th. We expect testing and commissioning to take some time, and we'll let everyone know when the loco is accepted into service.


34072 257 Squadron was briefly in the station loop on 16th November. It was being moved to the south side of the line to permit better access.

34028 Eddystone

Work on the frames, axle boxes, bogie, etc has continued at Tyseley. Pete Pickering is doing most of the work, under the aegis of Vintage Trains. SLL volunteers have made several visits to help with cleaning and painting. We expect Eddystone to leave during the second week of December, and Manston to take its place as a return load.


Volunteers like (and often need) very clear instructions, and what better than the to-do list written on the drag box of Eddystone by Pete Pickering. Most of the items listed were polished off during October and November.


Much of the volunteer's work on Eddystone has been of the cleaning and painting variety. Where does all the muck come from? Malcolm Garner is painting one of the bogie wheels.

34070 Manston

The primary work to be done at Tyseley is to repair the damage to the frames received on 24th July, with further work on the bottom end to be agreed. The hope is that the boiler will not need to be lifted, though the loco will need to spend some time in Herston works for retubing. If all goes well Manston could return to service in 2019. Meanwhile Manston is in the Swanage headshunt looking rather sad.

80104 / 80146


As usual Ray Grace was 'front of house' for the SLL Driving & Firing days on 14 - 16th November. He managed to find time to have a trip, along with Stuart Magnus, who is an SLL volunteer when he's not being a Swanage Railway signalman.

Our Standard 4MT tank has been in service for most of October and November. It was used on 14 - 16th November for SLL Shareholder Driver & Firing trips. On each day 8 round trips from Swanage to Corfe Castle were run, for a total of 48 budding drivers, who were united in praise for the skill and guidance of the Swanage Railway train crews.

Several superheater elements have been found to leak, and these are currently blanked off, awaiting delivery of new elements.


A busy scence at Swanage MPD on the morning of 16th November. 80104/146 prepares to leave for the third day of SLL DX runs. 34072 is temporarily on the running line during a move across the tracks, behind 80104/146 is visting Ivatt tank 41312, and behind that was M7 30053. To the left there's an 08 shunter and the U class 31806.

34010 Sidmouth

Volunteers have cleaned and painted Sidmouth's driving wheels, and the steady accumulation of parts continues.


They say it's best a get a job where you can sit down, and Roger Hughes enjoys a seat in the autumn sunshine as he applies primer to Sidmouth's driving wheels. Ray Evans, on the other hand is in the shade and seems to have a fried egg on his hat.

Once again a film clip of one of our locos has turned up on YouTube, and this time it's a nice scene of 34010 Sidmouth passing Clapham Junction with an up train. The sequence with Sidmouth can be seen 1.09 minutes in.

Thomas goes Spamcan

Mattel Inc, holders of the Thomas the Tank Engine franchise, have revamped the loco roster for the next series of videos. Tidmouth shed says goodbye to Henry and Edward and in comes Rebecca, an unrebuilt Bulleid Pacific.


Rebecca's nameplate is on the driver's side smoke deflector, and the rectangular shape make it hard to determine whether Rebecca is an MN or WC/BB. As for the livery it looks like Malachite on Acid, or maybe someone's found a pot of "Improved Stroudley Green". Photo: Mattel Inc.


Southern Locomotives Ltd is looking for an experienced steam machinist/fitter to take up a paid position at the workshops in Swanage. Hours and terms negotiable. Please send CV and any questions to Simon Troy by email to

We're also considering recruiting another apprentice to learn engineering skills, and attend college on day release. A suitable candidate will have a practical nature, and an interest in engineering, not least steam locos. Please drop an email to Simon Troy at if you're interested.

Last and not least we're looking for volunteers. We have a fair number living local to Swanage, and more are always welcome, however we're hoping to find some volunteers living in the Midlands with relatively easy access to Tyseley (or Swanage North as we sometimes call it). Eddystone will returning to Swanage soon, and Manston will be therefore several months in the New Year. The work will be mainly basic stuff, stripping the loco and cleaning the wheels and frames, and some painting. You don't need to have worked with SLL before or be a shareholder. Work will be on the odd day or two, generally when other volunteers are there for you to work with. Please drop an email to Simon Troy at if you're interested.

Hurry while stocks last...

Thanks to everyone who has bought of copy of the 2018 calendar. The 2018 edition will include some excellent photos of the SLL fleet, several taken at Strictly Bulleid. Our order has now been delivered, and we have still have some available, so if you'd like one, or an extra copy, please get in touch. If you'd like to buy one as a present for a friend we're happy to post it with a message if you wish.

The calendars cost 10 each including UK P&P. Please drop an email to and he'll sort out payment and delivery arrangements with you.

2018 calendar

Proceeds from the sale of calendars will be donated to the restoration of 34010 Sidmouth.

October 2017

SLL signs new agreement with Swanage Railway

SLL has a signed a new long term agreement with Swanage Railway. Our current deal ran until mid-2018, and both parties were happy to avoid a last minute rush. The agreement covers the leasing of all five of our Bulleids and 80104 and assures SLL of hire revenue for our serviceable locos. It also covers use of Herston works, hiring locos to other heritage lines, and SLL shareholders' footplate days. Norman is not currently covered while discussions continue to find the location and resources required for its upcoming overhaul.

SLL Chairman, Simon Troy, commented, "This agreement cements our relationship with Swanage Railway for the long term, allowing us to plan for the future and securing a good proportion of the resources we will need to make it all happen."


Among other benefits the new agreement will grant SLL Chairman, Simon Troy, the luxury of an executive office in which to conduct Board Meetings, staff appraisals, etc. Mind your head when entering!

34072 257 Squadron

It's been a case of two steps forward and one step back for 257 Squadron. The loco left Herston works on 21st August and travelled to Norden via Swanage seafront. The roundabout route avoids the humpback bridge near to the workshop and the very sharp bend in Corfe Castle. At Norden it was winched on to the track and coupled with its brand-new tender. It was then towed to Swanage by a class 08 diesel shunter.

34072 34072

257 Squadron is winched on to the low-loader for its journey to Norden. Photo: Chris Worby

At Norden it was coupled to its brand new tender which had been on the railway for some months.

Prior to steaming we were asked by the boiler inspector to conduct some further tests which have delayed initial steaming. It was always going to be tight to have the loco running in time for the planned recommissioning event which we hoped to hold on 30th September after our AGM, so we decided to postpone the event before too many commitments to hotels and B&B's were made. We plan to have an event in 2018, maybe including a celebration of Sir Keith Park's arrival on Swanage Railway.

34072 34072

Swanage Railway's 08 diesel shunter D3591 hauled 34072 down the line to Swanage, and is seen here on the Swanage viaduct in evening sunshine. Photo: Chris Worby

34072 is currently in the goods siding at Swanage. Our apprentice Bailey England makes his way to the loco in the rain.

At the time of writing we don't know when 257 Squadron will enter service, hopefully it will be in time for this year's shareholder driving and firing sessions in November. We'll keep you appraised on our website and our Facebook page. While it's still too early to say 'job done' on 257 Squadron's overhaul/restoration, it's a good time to thank everyone who has supported the work, physically and financially. Not least we gratefully record the 30,000 received from the Swanage Railway SuperDraw several years ago.

Since 257 Squadron's departure in August there has been no SLL loco inside Herston works, for the first time in more than 20 years. Fear not, Eddystone's frames will be along in a few weeks and we've been busily engaged doing work for 80104, Sidmouth, Eddystone, 257 Squadron and Manston. That only leaves Norman and Sir Keith this space.

We've taken the chance to have a bit of a tidy-up and to rearrange the equipment.

34072 34072

The spark arrestor for 34072 will be just about that last part to be fitted, after everything else has been tested.

We've been looking through the boxes of patterns kept on the high racks. The part which Malcolm and Ray have dug out is for a regulator, and not what they were looking for.

34028 Eddystone

Work continues on the frames and axle boxes of Eddystone at Tyseley. Further posses of SLL volunteers were there in August and September on missions to clean and paint the section of frames which will be obscured by the driving wheels, and to clean and paint the back of the driving wheels, clearing the way for the loco to be re-wheeled. The driving wheels went back under the frames on 28th September and attention has moved to the bogie and pony truck.

The boiler remains at Buckfastleigh where work is quite advanced. At Herston the cab is being overhauled, and the new tender tank is being fitted out.

34028 34028

Long-term supporter Colin Eyles joined us at Herston in September and was engaged in rubbing down the paintwork on Eddystone's new tender tank.

At the end of September Eddystone's driving wheels were put back on the frames at Tyseley where the axle boxes were repaired. They're seen here prior to painting.

34010 Sidmouth

Volunteers spent time cleaning Sidmouth's wheels on 28-29th September. BFB wheels may be an attractive and robust design, but the pockets around the perimeter are dirt traps, and many hours have been spent cleaning them out. The boiler will finally leave Bridgnorth in the first week of October, to go to a boiler specialist for inspection and restoration.

We're still collecting parts, and now have almost all the castings required. These will be machined as resources allow, reducing the time needed when assembly work starts.

34010 34010

Roger Hughes and Ray Evans worked with Claire Sheppy (out of camera) to clean 34010 Sidmouth's driving wheels.

The bronze casting was obtained in late September. It's the body of the valve feeding water to the ashpan spray.

34070 Manston

Manston's front frames were damaged on 24th July in the collision with 80104 at Swanage, and work has been done to assess the damage. The loco will move to Tyseley for repair, maybe as a return load for Eddystone, and its 10 year overhaul will follow directly.

34053 Sir Keith Park

During August it was announced that Sir Keith Park would be leaving the SVR at the end of 2017 and would enter service at Swanage in 2018. The background to this was that a long term hire agreement at Swanage was preferable to the shorter terms available at SVR, and the overhaul of the loco at Swanage would be more assured and viable than if it stayed at SVR.

Having said that we feel some regret at seeing the loco leave, having enjoyed seeing it haul long trains at SVR; many of us had enjoyed footplate trips since its arrival in 2012. The recommissioning ceremony in 2013 is also fresh in our minds. If things go well at Herston we should be in a position to hire out a Bulleid in a year or too, and the SVR could be near the top of attractive destinations. We'd like to thank all the SVR staff for the friendship shown during this period, and look forward to renewing this in the future.

34053 34028

The New Zealand High Commissioner takes a turn on the shovel on the day of Sir Keith Park's recommissioning ceremony, 31st August 2013. Photo: Bob Sweet

34053 enters Eardington Loop on 19th March 2017. Photo: John Oates

The loco will be in regular service at SVR between now and January, including the "Santas" and some farewell trips. It's also making two visits to heritage lines before it heads south. First it will attend the Great Central Railway Autumn Steam Gala from 5th - 8th October, and then it's off to the Llangollen Railway Autumn Steam Gala from Friday 13th to Sunday 15th October.

There are a fair number of photos of our locos in BR days but precious little film, and what exists is of mixed quality. This video shows many Bulleids in action between Waterloo and Worting Jct in the early 60's, and SKP features in the 15th and 17th minutes.


Norman's boiler ticket runs out early in 2018; we're looking at various routes for its overhaul. Progress is being made but we've not reached a final decision. Meanwhile the webmaster visited the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway in August when Norman was in service and seemed to be in good shape.

Norman Norman

Norman is still running as NCB No 35. It's seen here taking water at Bolton Abbey on 1st September.

Norman's footplate is cosy, but it's a powerful loco capable of hauling five coaches up the 1 in 100 grades on the line.


The damage to 80104 was less than that to Manston and the loco has been repaired and it returned to service on Friday 8th September where it's the mainstay of the steam fleet, alongside U class 31806. It subsequently failed with defective superheater elements in mid-September, and returned by the end of the month.

80104 80104

80104 sets off on a test run from Swanage on 9th September. It re-entered service the following day.

80104 (still running at 80146) was in service on Saturday 30th September, the day of the SLL AGM.

....and a Happy New Year

Summer's gone, Autumn's here and Christmas is just around the corner, so it's time to launch the 2018 calendar which Nick Thompson makes to raise funds for SLL. As usual it will feature all of SLL's locos, some recent shots and others from BR days. The price is 10 including UK P&P. If you'd like to order one (or more) please drop an email to and he'll sort out payment and delivery arrangements with you. All orders by 20th November please.

2018 calendar

The 2018 calendar will include photos from Strictly Bulleid and other events of 2017. Proceeds from the calendars will be donated to the restoration of 34010 Sidmouth.

August 2017

We said last month that it would be tempting fate to say that things were going well, and how right we were. On 24th July there was a low speed shunting incident in the sidings at Swanage in which Manston ran into 80104. We await a full report from Swanage Railway and will make no further comment. Both locos will be out of service for some time, and as Manston was due to come out of service next July in any case, we may decide to start its 10 year overhaul now.

Hopefully this will not delay 257 Squadron's return to service; a low-loader is booked to move it from Herston on 21st August. However there is bound to be some knock-on delay to Eddystone and Sidmouth. We will keep you posted.

Fleet news

34072 257 Squadron

34072 34072

257 Squadron is all but finished, and the lights reflect off the final coats of paint.

Our chief painter, Ron Bennett, was aged 21 when 34072 was built, but he's just as well preserved!

257 Squadron is all set and ready to leave Herston works, needing only the crests which fit below the nameplates. Given the urgent attention needed by 80104 and Manston the exact plan for the next few weeks is fluid, but clearly a new engine in service would be an asset to the railway.

SLL's AGM will be held in Swanage on the morning of Saturday 30th September. In the afternoon we're arranging a naming ceremony for 257 Squadron, which will be held at Corfe Castle station. There will be a special train for shareholders and supporters leaving Swanage leaving at 13:20 for those wishing to attend the event. If you'd like to be involved please drop an email to Nick Thompson - .

34028 Eddystone

Work on Eddystone continues mainly off-site, with the boiler at Buckfastleigh and the frames at Tyseley. A posse of volunteers went to Tyseley in July to clean up the frames and wheels prior to steam cleaning.

34028 34028

Phil, Ray and Malcolm (and Nick) spent two days at Tyseley cleaning the frames and wheels of 34028

The task was to remove 10 years of dirt and grease from the frames and the back of the wheels prior to steam cleaning.

34070 Manston

Manston was due to come out of service in July 2018 for its 10 year boiler overhaul, but following the recent damage to the front end that may change. It is in generally excellent condition, and the mandatory retubing may be done while the loco is on the railway, saving the time and cost of a move into Herston. That all sounds good, but we will still face an overhaul costing well into five figures.

We're launching an appeal now for funds for Manston's speedy overhaul, and as has become customary, we've commissioned Richard Green to make one of his excellent profile prints of the loco. This is the fifth print in the series Richard has made for SLL, so we now have one for each of our Bulleids. A copy of this print will be given to those making a new share purchase or contributing 250 to SLL as a donation or sponsorship. Prints of the other four locos remain available if preferred.


34010 Sidmouth

We reported in July how a Bulleid chimney had unexpectedly seen light of day and was now at Herston for repair. It would be an exaggeration to say that the story went viral, though a photo on our Facebook was viewed by over 7,000 people, and we did hit the headlines of the Sidmouth Herald

The steel for two Bulleid ash-pans has been ordered, one for Sidmouth and the other for Eddystone, and this will be cut to provide two sets of parts for fabrication. One of our volunteers generously sponsored the parts for Sidmouth's.

It's unusual to be contacted by someone who witnessed an event which took place over 70 years ago, and it came as a nice surprise when the webmaster received an email from Mr Hugh Tomalin who had been present at Sidmouth's naming ceremony on 27th June 1946. Mr Tomalin lived in Sidmouth as a child, and his grand-father was Councillor A Lancaster Smith, who was Chairman of the town's publicity committee, and who unveiled the nameplate on that occasion. Young Hugh was at the ceremony, and joined his father for a short trip on 21C110's footplate. In later years he inherited a ceremonial coffee table one of which was given to each person naming a loco at the West Country class events.

34010 34010

The glass topped coffee table displays the Devon crest which was used on the loco. Apparently Sidmouth town didn't have its own crest in those days.

The inscription records the naming of Southern Railway locomotive Sidmouth.

Some further notes on these coffee tables and the naming ceremonies written by the late Barry Fletcher can be found here.

34053 Sir Keith Park

SKP spent the first half of July at the Mid Hants Railway's 'End of Southern Steam' gala, where it made a very good impression. Since its return to the SVR it's received some maintenence and is back in service.

34010 chimney

34053 Sir Keith Park at Ropley MPD on 2nd July. Also at the gala was former SLL Standard tank 80078, now fully overhauled by its new owner. Photo: Richard Bryan

34010 chimney

Sir Keith Park has won two awards in a recent competition. We refer of course to the Sir Keith Park ale brewed by Bewdley Brewery, and the competition was the Wales and West branch of the Society of Independent Brewers Beer Award. More details here.

The white heat of technology

Most readers of this website will probably regard July 1967, when steam on the Southern ceased, as the last significant date in history, and that anything which has happened since then as being of no consequence.....however technology has marched on and there are times when even die-hards must accept progress. One of our volunteers who knows about these things opined that we would benefit by using a plasma cutter and, better still, came up with the money for us to purchase one. For those of you (and me) who had heard of it but were afraid to ask, here's a description.

plasma cutter

Plasma cutting is a low cost way of cutting metal. It's particularly suitable for sheet steel as it makes a fine cut and leaves clean edges. Neville Crook shows how it's done.

July 2017

Fleet news

It may be tempting fate to say that things seem to be going in the right direction on all fronts; 80104 is back in service with new springs, 257 Squadron should leave Herston works around the end of July. The overhaul of Eddystone's boiler is on track, and Sidmouth's boiler will move from its 'temporary' home at Bridgnorth to a contractor's site in the next few weeks. Sir Keith Park is in regular service and its tour of England and Wales is progressing.

34072 34010

The brake linkage has been fitted to 34072. With new tyres and new brake shoes the clearances were minimal.

Sidmouth's wheels have new tyres, but the pockets on the rim of the BFB wheels needed to be cleaned out. Claire Sheppy and Mary Bosworth get to work.

Manston is also in regular service at Swanage, and its condition is such that the 10-year overhaul due next year may be the simplest we've ever faced. We still don't know how we'll fit in Norman's upcoming overhaul, but we're working on some ideas.

Of course all this costs money, and (to paraphrase Yazz) the only thing which isn't 'up' is our cash balance. If you can find a way to support us, your contribution will be very warmly received.

34072 257 Squadron

34072 257 Squadron now looks almost like a complete loco. The cab is complete, bar the crews' seats and the floor, the casing is virtually complete, and has several coats of gloss on it.

257's tender has moved to the goods shed at Swanage station. The tender's rear panel was not fully cleaned up before its first coats were applied in 2015, and it is being taken back to metal for a final paint job.

We're expecting that it will leave the works during July and be joined with its tender thereafter. Its initial steaming and testing will be done over the summer, though just when it will enter service is not yet known.

34072 34072

34072's cab fittings are now complete. Photo: Dave Ensor

A top view of 34072's casing, showing the safety valves and dome cover. Photo: Dave Ensor

34010 Sidmouth

We're still at the parts-gathering phase with Sidmouth; most recently a Bulleid chimney was found in an overgrown garden. The purchaser (an SLL shareholder) planned to use it as a garden feature but offered it to SLL when he realised that the chimney now on Sir Keith Park was one taken from Sidmouth's boiler back in 2011, leaving us one Bulleid chimney short.

34010 chimney

The chimney came to light when Chris Henley, from Honiton, visited a house in Devon where a collection of railwayana was being sold. Chris found the chimney at the foot of an overgrown tree. He bought it for use as a pot 'planter' in his garden. When Chris posted a photo of it full of flowers on Facebook our webmaster spotted it and commented, "That's just what we need for Sidmouth". A deal was done and the chimney is now in Herston works awaiting minor repairs and restoration.

34028 Eddystone

Work on Eddystone is mainly being done off-site. SDR Engineering at Buckfastleigh have made good progress with the boiler, and it will be returned to Swanage later this year. The frames are at Tyseley, and we're expecting them back shortly after 257 Squadron makes space for it in the workshop.

Meanwhile the second tender tank built for us by AD Engineering in Stockton was delivered on 20th June and was lifted directly on to the overhauled frames at Norden. It's currently stored down the line pending painting. Unlike the first tank, which is for use with 257 Squadron, this tank was shot-blasted and primed before delivery.

34028 34028

A large section of the outer firebox wall is being replaced. The new front tubeplate has now been fitted.

The new tank for Eddystone's tender was delivered to Norden and directly craned on to the frames.

80104 / 80146

Shortly after 80104 re-entered service it suffered spring failures. A new set of springs was purchased and these were fitted during May, and the loco was rebalanced. It's now reported to offer its 'best ever' ride. The old springs are being reconditioned for use as spares in future.


80104 (as 80146) prepares to leave Swanage with the 15:20 service to Norden on 21st June.

34070 Manston

Manston has been in regular service at Swanage. A recent boiler inspection resulted in the extension of its ticket to mid-July 2018. The inspector indicated that based on its current condition it may not be necessary to lift the boiler after it is withdrawn from service as it's possible to replace tubes and superheater elements in-situ. This will of course save time and money and free up workshop space for other locos. Fingers crossed, both Eddystone and Manston could re-enter with fresh boiler tickets in 2019.

Strictly Revisited: Turn up the noise on your PC, make yourself comfortable, run this video and wait till you see what's on the back. Video: Alex Clements.

34053 Sir Keith Park

SKP's 2017 travels will continue in July when it takes part in the Mid-Hants Railway's Summer Gala which will be another Bulleid-fest. Our loco will be in action over two weekends 1st-2nd July and 8-9th July. It will be visiting the Great Central and Llangollen Railway in October.


34053 Sir Keith Park with a footplate experience service on 1st June 2017. Photo: Paul Pearson

34072 257 Squadron recommissioning event - Saturday 30th September

34072 257 Squadron is expected to leave Herston Works in July and to be reunited with its tender, currently being painted in the Goods Shed at Swanage station. Thereafter it will be tested and 'run-in' on the railway, and doubtless a few glitches will need to be fixed. Quite when it will re-enter service can't be stated with certainty, but we are now making firm plans for its re-commissioning ceremony on Saturday 30th September.

The plan is for the loco to haul a special train from Swanage station leaving at mid-day and travel to Corfe Castle station where it will terminate in the down platform. There passengers will alight, and join others for the ceremony. The Swanage Air Cadets and Poole branch of the RAF Associations are planning to join us, and we are hoping that our Patron and other guests speakers will be there. After the unveiling of the nameplate the loco will run round and return with its train to Swanage.

SLL supporters and those with a connection to the Royal Air Force are invited to join us on the special train. There will be no charge for this, though we do need to control numbers. If you would like to travel on the special train please send an email to the webmaster ( with your name and address, and the number of tickets you'd like.

On the morning of 30th September SLL will be holding its AGM in the Mowlem Building in Swanage. The timing of this will enable shareholders to also travel on the special to Corfe Castle.....provided there is not too much AOB!

34072 34072

34072's first recommissioning ceremony was at Folkestone West on 8th September 1990. It's seen here at Dover Marine on the previous day. Photo: Simon Troy

SLL's most recent recommissioning event was for Sir Keith Park at Kidderminster on 31st August 2013. Photo: Bob Sweet


We're happy to report that Standard 4MT Tank 80078 has been fully restored and is back in action. It's now left the Mangapps Railway in Essex, having been restored at a nearby site, and is currently running at the Epping Ongar Railway. 80078 was sold by SLL to a private owner in 2012, at a time when SLL lacked the resources to overhaul the loco in-house. Doing so permitted us to fund the overhaul of 34072 and prepare for work on Eddystone and Sidmouth with confidence. 80078 will be visiting several railways in the near future, including the Mid Hants Gala alongside Sir Keith Park (see above) and is in line to visit Swanage for the Autumn steam gala.


80078 seen at North Weald station on the Epping Ongar Railway of 24th June. Photo: Epping Ongar Railway MPD

The railway blogger

One of SLL's newest shareholders and supporters is Barrie Papworth who lives near Sidmouth. A professional engineer Barrie had a 40 year career on the Big Railway starting in Crewe Locomotive Works following which he was depot manager at Eastleigh, Fleet Manager for Midland Mainline and Cross Country, a member of the Wessex Trains Board and latterly managing the Franchise Agreement for First Great Western. He still gets called upon to assist in managing franchise agreements.

Having (theoretically) retired a couple of years ago his main focus is the railwayblogger in which he comments on topics using his experience with many parts of the rail industry including decades of involvement on heritage railways. Barrie offers a balanced view of the Rail Industry and Heritage Lines, taking time to explain railway matters that have either not been reported correctly or have never been explained. It's well worth a read.

April 2017

Strictly Photo Competition

Many thanks to everyone who entered our Strictly Bulleid photo competition. With three of SLL's locos in action - Manston, Sir Keith Park and 80104/80146 - plus City of Wells, 92 Squadron and Lord Dowding, and not forgetting 257 Squadron in Herston works there was plenty to photograph. Sidmouth's frames were on display at Corfe Castle, and on Saturday 1st April the cab front of our Leader Donald was unveiled to visitors to Herston Works. Strictly was a huge success for Swanage Railway with more than 5,700 passengers carried and much enjoyed by all.

Over 150 photos were entered. We planned to offer two prizes, but couldn't decide between three excellent entries, so three prizes it is. For the first category (best photo featuring one SLL loco) SLL Chairman, Simon Troy awarded the prizes to Karl Heath and Nathan Au. The winner of the second category (best photo featuring both Sir Keith Park and Manston) went to Paul Blowfield.


The first winner in the "featuring one SLL loco" category is Nathan Au's photo of 34070 Manston heading up the line bearing the Night Ferry headboard on Sunday 2nd April.


The second winner in the same category is Karl Heath's image of 34053 Sir Keith Park at Corfe Castle, with the classic view of the castle itself, taken on 1st April

34053 34070

In the second category winner Paul Blowfield's monochrome image shows not just Manston and Sir Keith Park but also Lord Dowding and 92 Squadron. It was taken early on 1st April, with 53 and 70 heading up the line light engine.

Full screen versions of all the entries can be seen at: Strictly Bulleid photos.

Old Masters

Michaelangelo spent 19 years on his back painting a ceiling, Constable did a nice picture of Salisbury but missed out 72B, and JMW Turner made a poorly focused picture of a GWR loco crossing a viaduct, but only Ron Bennett managed to paint a complete Bulleid Pacific. SLL's chief painter, now aged 90, painted 34053 Sir Keith Park in 2011/12 (with a certain amount of help from others) but until Strictly he had never travelled on its footplate. Well done Ron....257 Squadron's waiting for you in Herston works.


Ron took a round trip from Swanage to River Frome and back on Sir Keith Park, courtesy of Swanage Railway on the Sunday of Strictly Bulleid. Photo (c) Stuart Magnus

SLL Galleries

Readers may be familiar with the angst which the demise of Picasa caused the webmaster when it was rolled into Google Photos, so we won't bore you with the details.

However with the assistance of Richard Green Locos in Profile we have made a webpage which will steer users to the gallery of their choice


The oldest photo in our galleries is this shot of 21C110 Sidmouth, presumably taken at Brighton when in Malachite Green livery, Sept 1945, or maybe taken at the time of its naming in June 1946.

In short the new page tabulates all of our galleries and puts them in a logical order where you might reasonably be able to find what you're looking for. There's a direct link to SLL Galleries page in the main menu, half way down the list.

We still use Google to store the photos, though the structure will work with other on-line facilities, and we've included a link to the Flickr SLL photo pool. We hope you find the galleries interesting and easy to use. If you find any glitches please let us know.

Take me to your Leader.....

Day Two of Strictly Bulleid fell on Saturday 1st April, when SLL volunteers were due to open Herston Works to visitors, so what better excuse for an April Fool. It's not unusual for SLL supporters to start rambling on about building a Bulleid Leader - particularly when they're in the Black Swan.

With Strictly and 1st April in mind work had begun several weeks previously to build a cab front and fit it to the back of Eddystone's cab, which stands in the middle of the workshop. It was built from cardboard on a wooden frame, painted in undercoat grey, windows were fitted, it was lined out, and wipers, lights and lamp brackets followed.

On the Friday night we issued a press release and posted it on Facebook and our website; we had tipped off Steam Railway magazine who added their own news item, and we invited visitors at Strictly to come and see it for themselves.

34072 34072

The cab section was on display to visitors at Herston Works during Strictly Bulleid. Note that OVSB himself is driving. Photo: T Bright

An artist's impression of how 'Donald' will look in service. Other members of the class may be named Theresa, Nicola and Gareth.

Given the opportunity to see an eighth Bulleid (that's five in steam, Sidmouth's frames, 257 Squadron, and Donald the Leader) more than 600 people visited the works over the weekend. Whether they were disappointed to discover that only a cardboard replica had been built is not recorded, but they made handsome contributions to our collecting bucket.

March 2017

In the Workshop

34072 257 Squadron

Work continues to complete 257 Squadron. The grate, firebox door and superheater elements are fitted, and work continues on the remaining cab fittings. The mass of lubrication pipes are being cleaned and re-fitted. The steam pipe flanges have received attention and the smokebox has been lifted into place for the final time. The boiler casing, which holds the lagging in place, has been fitted. The main steam pipes were fitted in early March. The cab is now painted in BR Green and was lifted into place in February.

While a good rate of progress is being achieved 34072 will not be ready to take an active part in Strictly Bulleid.

34072 34072

In early January the remaining super-heater elements were fitted into the flues and header.

The copper lubrication pipes are being refitted throughout. First each pipe run must be heated with a gas torch to burn out old grease and muck.

34072 34072

The firebox door frame has been installed. Someone has kindly stuck a photo of Manston's footplate on the backplate, in case anyone doesn't know their gauge glass from their regulator.

34072's cab is now in BR Green. Inside the cab is the smokebox, thus saving some floor space. By the mid-February both were positioned on the loco.

34072 34072

In February the grate was refitted with 150 'fingers' which can be rocked by the fireman.

Most of the fittings in the cab are now installed.

34072 34072

Most of the casing for 34072 has been made from new, such was the corrosion of the original panels. It's a time consuming job done mainly by volunteers led by Dave Ensor.

Claire Sheppy and Mary Bosworth removed each of the bolts which secure the cladding to the framework, checked each bolt with a die and each hole with a tap to ensure that the cladding could be assembled with as little difficulty as possible.

34010 Sidmouth

Sidmouth's wheels returned from Buckfastleigh with new tyres. Various parts have been found, ordered or repaired, notably a chimney which might otherwise have spent the rest of its career serving as a flower pot. (More on that story later.)

34010 34010

The leading and trailing driving wheels of Sidmouth, with new tyres fitted.

Left and Right are the front bogie wheels of Sidmouth, in the centre are the wheels for the rear pony truck which has outside bearings. All have been re-tyred.

80104 / 80146

80104's bottom-end overhaul ran on longer than hoped as cylinder liners were needed and the slidebars needed further attention. Given these additional tasks it was decided to give the loco a much needed repaint. Given 80104's role as station pilot during the forthcoming Strictly gala it was decided to renumber the loco as 80146 which ran the last steam service to Swanage back in 1967. After being weighed 80104 finally re-entered service on 1st March.


80104 in steam on 2nd February at Swanage station. Minor steam leaks were being attended to, and the loco needed weighing before it re-entered service. As it turned out, some of the spring hangers were immovable had to be replaced.

34028 Eddystone

Not too much news as attention has focussed on 80104 and 34072. Work continues overhauling various components. The new tubeplate will be fitted at Buckfastleigh. Willie Bath has visited Tyseley to review progress and agree the final scope of their work on the bottom end.

Strictly Bulleid


As well as having three of our locos in action many SLL staff and supporters will be at the gala, and we have arranged a 'stand' on the platform at Swanage. Come and say hello.

It hardly counts as another Bulleid, however Sidmouth's frames and the well-wagon on which they currently reside will be moved to the yard at Corfe Castle station, adjacent to the museum.

More details can be found here.

While 34072 will not to taking part in 'Strictly' three of our locos will. 34070 Manston is of course resident at Swanage Railway, and 34053 Sir Keith Park will be visiting from SVR. 80104 has been renumbered 80146 (see above) and will be acting as Swanage station pilot throughout the event, 31st March to 2nd April.

Intending visitors have asked whether it will be possible to see 34072 (and two Swanage moguls) at Herston over the gala weekend. After discussions with Swanage Railway SLL has agreed to open the workshop on Saturday and Sunday to see a sixth - almost complete - Bulleid Pacific. SLL volunteers will be showing visitors around the works.

Exact times are to be finalised, it will probably be from 10:00am to 2:00pm on both days and arrangements will be announced by Swanage Railway. There will be no charge for admission to the works, though a large green bucket for donations will be strategically placed.

34053 Sir Keith Park

SKP will be touring England (and possibly beyond) during 2017. It visited the Nene Valley Railway in February, will be at Swanage in March, at the Mid-Hants in July, with more to come.


A night shot of 34081 92 Squadron and 34053 Sir Keith Park at Wansford station on 26th February. Photo (c) Kevin Wilkins of the BBLS.

34053 arrived at NVR on 15th February and on the weekend of 25-26th February it took part in their Bulleid 50 gala alongside the NVR's home loco 34081 92 Squadron which has been recently been outshopped in Malachite Green. Subsequently it was used for a Footplate Experience course on 3rd March, and was the star of "Sir Keith Park Sunday" on the 5th March.

When running at Swanage it will carry the three flags (UK, New Zealand and Royal Air Force) which were used at its 2013 re-commissioning ceremony, though sadly we don't expect a fly past by a Spitfire and Hurricane this time. The loco was restored at Swanage however it has never run there and it's sure to attract lots of interest from the 'home team'.


At the 2013 recommissioning ceremony at Kidderminster when Sir Keith Park was named by the New Zealand High Commissioner the loco carried three flags on the front.

OK1 was the call sign of the Hurricane used by Air Vice-Marshall Keith Park to visit fighter bases during the Battle of Britain.

Alan Parr has recently completed his third video of 34053 Sir Keith Park running on the Severn Valley Railway. As usual the Parsound production is expertly filmed and finished, with notably good sound quality; enjoy that Bulleid 'chuff'.

34070 Manston

In January news we stated that Manston was in regularly service only for it to be promptly stopped for several days with lubricator problems. This time we will simply state that it was available for service when we last enquired.


Norman's boiler ticket is due to expire at the end of 2017. We will be looking for a timely way to overhaul the loco; given our current commitments to 34072, 34028 and 34010 SLL's in-house resource is already stretched, and a bit of blue-sky thinking may be required.

Ron Bennett

Our Chief Painter, Ron Bennett, celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday 22nd January. Ron lives in Poole and was inveigled into attending a surprise party at the New Inn at Oakley with a large group of family, friends and colleagues. Gifts included an 00 gauge model of 34070 Manston in a display case, and an Airfix kit of 34057 Biggin Hill, complete with a brush and pots of paint! He was also presented with a Locos-in-Profile print of 34028 Eddystone. The print was #90 from a run of 350.


Ron was given his framed print of 34028 in the mess room at Herston. When not painting SLL locos he's making tea for SLL and Swanage Railway staff and volunteers.

January 2017

In the Workshop

34072 257 Squadron

34072   34072

Volunteer Neville Crook is preparing the flange of the main steam pipe. Neville recently moved to Dorset from Peterborough where he worked on 34081 92 Squadron.

The superheater header distributes steam from the header pipe to the superheater elements and thence to the three steam pipes.

The loco was reboilered early in November, opening the way to several major tasks. First it was necessary to adjust the four 'pads' on which the boiler sits, two fixed at the front and two 'sliding' at the rear, sliding to accommodate the expansion of the boiler (around half an inch) between its cold and hot states. With the boiler sitting evenly the regulator could be fitted, no easy task as it's a very heavy item which needs to be lowered through the dome.

34072   34072

The regulator fits beneath the dome and attaches to the main steam pipe. Bob Waterman checks the threads of the dome cover.

Hopefully it will be a few years before the tubes below the dome space are seen again.

Then the superheater header was installed - an even heavier piece of kit which is mounted precisely to the main steam pipe within the smokebox. Hours of careful lapping were required to achieve a perfect metal-to-metal fit. (Gaskets are not used as a gasket failure would cause a dangerous leakage of high pressure steam.) With the header secure the superheater elements are now being fitted, while at the other end of the loco the cab fittings are being installed one by one. Most of the cladding was made earlier in the year though the fitting will take some time, after which final painting can start.

34072   34072

The superheater elements are fitted into the flues. Phil Casey holds a set level while Mike Price dresses the bracket to ease their passage.

Each element is fitted into its flue and then the ground connections are clamped to the header.

These tasks have progressed with inevitable moments of 'trial and error' and it's still a matter of conjecture before we can say when the loco will be ready to return to the rails, though we are not expecting it to be taking an active part in Strictly Bulleid (see below).

34010 Sidmouth

Until its frames are brought into Herston works there won't be too much of Sidmouth to see. The two wheel-sets which were sent to Buckfastleigh have been re-tyred and are due to return to Swanage. Work is expected to ramp up during the course of 2017.

Meanwhile a lot has been done to raise the profile of the restoration project, and to raise funds to pay for it. Capital raised from share sales in 2016 was more than twice that raised in 2015, which is just as well as our income from loco operations was lower than anticipated due to 80104 being out of use for most of the year. The majority of new capital came from existing shareholders however there are more than 30 new names on our shareholder roll to whom we offer a warm welcome and gratitude.

80104 / 80146

With valuable help from Swanage Railway volunteers 80104's repaint was been completed during December. Matt Green and Matt McManus were instrumental in the repainting project; the team included Jack Haynes, Dan Bennett, Billy Johnson, James Cox, Jason Kingdom, Kevin Potts, Alan English, Dave Gravell and Bryan Hardwick. A big thank-you to all involved.


The cylinder casings of 80104 had become rather battered over the last 60 years and it was decided to make a new pair.

The lining of the cylinders was completed by Bryn Engineering during December, and the pistons and motion were re-installed, however further work was required on the slide bars, and the loco is due to re-enter service at the beginning of February 2017


Back in 1967 80146 hauled the last BR steam train to Swanage, with 34089 602 Squadron on the rear. Doubtless this scene will be recreated once or more during 2017 with Manston or 257 Squadron on the rear. Thanks to (c) David Cooke for this photo.

As part of the repaint the loco was renumbered as 80146, and will run as such for 2017. 80146 was one of the last Standard Class 4 tanks to run from Bournemouth shed, and hauled the last BR steam train over the Swanage branch, an RCTS special, on 18th June 1967 along with BB 34089 602 Squadron.

34028 Eddystone

SDR Engineering has made a new front tubeplate for Eddystone's boiler, and this is waiting to be fitted. We await a decision on whether a new front section of the boiler barrel will be required. Meanwhile work on the bottom-end overhaul is proceding at Tyseley; the plan is for the frames to return to Herston as soon as 257 Squadron has vacated the premises, though by the nature of these tasks we don't know quite when that happy day will arrive.

Strictly Bulleid

Swanage Railway has announced that its Spring 2017 Gala will be called Strictly Bulleid. It will run from 31st March to 2nd April and as the name suggests it will feature a significant gathering of Bulleid Pacifics.

The confirmed visitors so far are SLL's 34053 Sir Keith Park, 34046 Braunton in its guise as 34052 Lord Dowding and 34092 City of Wells.


The final roll-call of Bulleids isn't known though we can be fairly sure that 34098 Templecombe, seen here at Bishops Lydeard in March 2016, won't be at Swanage. Photo (c) Simon Smith

34053 Sir Keith Park

34053, or 'Skippy' as it's known on the SVR has had another good year, clocking up plenty of steaming days. In addition to Strictly Bulleid it will travel to the Nene Valley Railway for their Bulleid 50 weekend on 25/26th February, where it will run with recently overhauled 34081 92 Squadron.

It's also planned for Sir Keith Park to take part in the Mid-Hants Railway "End of Southern Steam" Gala in July.


34053 Sir Keith Park at the head of the SVR Gresley rake approaching Highley on 25th October 2016. Photo (c) John Oates

34070 Manston

Manston's boiler ticket is due to expire at the end of 2017. Fellow original Bulleid 257 Squadron will be in service along side it at Swanage for most of 2017, making Swanage a unique Bulleid hot-spot.


After a day's service Manston heads for Swanage MPD on 12th October to be refueled and made ready for the next day. Photo (c) ANDREW P M WRIGHT


Norman remains at Embsay and has been in regular service in 2016.

Photos, Photographers and Galleries

The New Year is a good occasion to thank everyone who has sent us photos of SLL locos in action during 2016, and also those who have found photos of them running in BR, or even SR, days. 2017 will offer some exceptional opportunites for new images, maybe with three SLL Bulleids lined up.

Google continues to make the management of our galleries unduly complicated, though on the IT front the Windows 10 Photos program does offer excellent photo editing and optimization capabilities.


We've long had copies of the official photos of Sir Keith Park's naming at Brighton on 19th September 1947, however this one is thought to have been taken by the late Cyril Norman, and was sent to us by Alan Warren who now lives in Canada. 21C153 has its LH nameplate covered, though at the ceremony the RH side faced the platform. SKP is coupled to either Tangmere or Fighter Pilot but we may never know whether this is before or after the ceremony.

SLL features in Steam Railway


The January 2017 edition of Steam Railway magazine features a six page article on Southern Locomotives Ltd, past, present and future. It was written by the magazine's Thomas Bright, with input from Simon Troy, Willie Bath and Nick Thompson. Available at all good newsagents!

All set for 2017


Thanks to everyone who purchased a 2017 SLL calendar. Over 90 were sold and 250 was contributed to Sidmouth's restoration. They've all been sent out and are gracing homes across the country, though it must be said that August 2017 looks like being a dull month in the Thompson household, with not even a pilates class or trip to the dentist to look forward to so far.

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