34072 257 Squadron returned to service in September 2018 after years of storage and an extended overhaul which was more like a restoration in both scope and cost. This page remains on the website as a record of that work.

34072 257 Squadron - overhaul 2012 - 2018

2012 marked the start of a major overhaul of Battle of Britain class loco 34072 257 Squadron. The loco ran in preservation for an amazing 12 years from 1990 to 2002 and subsequently languished while others took their turn in the restoration queue. With the completion of Sir Keith Park we have now turned our focus to 257 Squadron.

There's a lot of work to do, but it will all be worthwhile when we see this fine loco given a third life in steam.

Here's the plan

257 Squadron is complete, except for a tender. Most of the bottom end is in working order, though we will have to replace the bushes, etc. We will have to re-make most of the cab panels and exterior cladding, which suffered badly after the loco was withdrawn from service in 2002. The crank axle driving wheels will need to be re-tyred. The tender it latterly ran with is now behind Eddystone. We have started work on a completely new tender, which will be the third we have built, though this one needs a new brake cylinder for which a pattern must be made.

34072 257 Squadron

34072's first restoration at Swindon. The boiler is lifted from the frames in 1988. The loco went on to run from 1990 to 2002, a record in railway preservation. It spent most of this time on the Swanage Railway, but also visited the Severn Valley, North Yorkshire Moors, East Lancs and Bluebell Railways.

The firebox needs major repairs around the bottom corners, and needs new tubes and flues. The superheater elements are re-usable; they were swapped not long before the loco stopped work in 2002. The boiler repairs, new tubes, flues, new cladding and a complete new smokebox are likely to cost around 150,000. The new tender frames are being built in-house, and its tank has been subcontracted; the steel alone will cost around 10,000 and wheelsets another 8,000.

While Herston Works is a good facility for assembling a loco it's not suitable for boiler lifts and the messy job of cleaning and overhauling the frames which have been done off-site.

Adding all of the above together, plus lots of smaller tasks, we won't see any change from 200,000. A realistic target might be.....257,257.

257 Squadron   257 Squadron

The outer casing is being removed from 34072 257 Squadron prior to further inspection of the boiler and it will be moved off-site for the boiler lift and deep cleaning.

The removal of the casing reveals the pipe runs, sand reservoirs, and years of accumulated rust and ash. 12th July 2012.

While 257 Squadron's overhaul will cost much less than the restoration of Sir Keith Park (773,000 at the last count) Southern Locomotives Ltd's income from use of its working fleet will not generate the required cash in the next few years and we need generous supporters to fund most of the work. We have some cash from the sale of 80078 to let us get the big ticket items started, but we have to match those funds with steady income from our supporters.

How's it going?

The loco was stripped of all cladding, motion and fittings. The frames and boiler went off-site for the boiler lift and frame cleaning, and returned in May 2013. The boiler has headed north for extensive repairs, and the cleaned frames are now at Herston mounted on the bogie and rear truck. The crank axle was re-tyred at Buckfastleigh, and the loco was re-wheeled during 2014. A lot sorting, cleaning and restoring brake gear, cladding, has been done. The completely new tender has been built. The frame sections and wheel sets are on-site and are largely assembled. Some of the work can be done by volunteers, and we can always use more willing hands. Additional work required on the boiler has delayed its return to Herston, and 257 Squadron is now expected to return to service in 2018.

Sponsors needed

We're inviting supporters to sponsor specific tasks and components. There is no shortage of items, with something for everyone's budget.

We've added some more items:

If you would like to sponsor something not listed, no problem. Please write the item and amount into the Form, or get in touch and we'll agree the deal.

Sponsors will be rewarded on a scale related to their contributions, not least by the pleasure of seeing the loco back in service and knowing that their generosity was crucial. Swanage Railway have indicated that they wish to lease 257 Squadron when it returns to service, and we have in mind a range of launch trains, footplate rides and driving/firing trips. It's too early to be specific; please rest assured that sponsors will not be forgotten.

bricks   paint

257 Squadron's brick arch is no more.....we need 250 for a new set of bricks.

Ron Bennett worked as a volunteer for SLL, leading the painting effort for over 20 years. He died at home in February 2020, just two days after his last shift, painting parts of Eddystone.

Please complete the sponsorship form and send it with your cheque. Many thanks in advance.

If you would prefer to pay by bank transfer our details are: Southern Locomotives Limited, Barclays Bank, S/C 20-90-56, A/C 70826235. Please send us an email so that we can connect your payment with your form.


If you'd like to make a donation rather than be a sponsor please send a cheque to Simon Troy (16 Arcadia Road, Istead Rise, Meopham, Kent, DA13 9EH) or make a bank transfer to Southern Locomotives Ltd, Barclays Bank, Sort Code: 20-90-56, Account No: 70826235. Please also send an email to southernlocos@btinternet.com so that we can record your donation correctly.

34072 257 Squadron

257 Squadron was in the front line of the defence of Britain in 1940, flying Hurricanes from Northolt airfield. The motto of the crest reads "Thay Myay Gyee Shin Shwe Hti" which is the Burmese for Death or Glory. The squadron was a gift from the people of Burma in support of the fight against fascism.

A feasible project worth doing

The overhaul of 257 Squadron will be our ninth major restoration/overhaul project. Southern Locomotives has an unrivalled track record at restoring Bulleid Pacifics, however this can only happen if we receive your support, for which we thank you sincerely in advance.

34072 257 Squadron

257 Squadron ran on the main line from Ashford to Dover Marine for its naming in 1990. It's seen here with nameplates covered prior to the renaming ceremony.

Back in service - 26th September 2018

34072 257 Squadron returned to service on Swanage Railway on 26th September 2018, hauling the 14:00 return trip to Norden. Thanks to everyone who worked on and supported this project.

34072 257 Squadron

After six years 257 Squadron's overhaul (which was much like a restoration) was finally completed, and it has returned to service on Swanage Railway. Photo; Harrison Sell