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May 2022

From the Chairman

During the last few months we have made good progress on most of our projects. Having said that, prices have risen across the board while our income from loco leasing and share purchases remains below pre-Covid levels. We've weathered all manner of storms over the last 40 years and still expect to complete our projects, ensuring that Swanage Railway and the Spa Valley continue to reap the benefits of our work. A new worry, which affects the whole heritage railway industry, is the supply and cost of steam coal, now around 400 per ton. That's particularly frustrating as suitable UK coal exists but the mines are moth-balled, we now have to look at countries such as Kazakhstan and Colombia for supplies, hardly a green solution.


Once again 34053 masqueraded at the Spa Valley as 34095 Brentor, this time for a photo charter on 27th April. Photo:Ian Silvester

We were saddened to learn that John Mullins, who looked after our share register and issuance for 25 years, died in March after a long illness. SLL was represented at the funeral by myself, Geoff Thompson, our previous Chairman, and Bob Bevis who took over from John a couple of years ago. John was a thoroughly nice chap and our condolences go out to his family.


It was gratifying to see 34072 257 Squadron on the front cover of the March edition of Steam Railway. The Squadron was a visitor to the Great Central Railway's gala in January. Photo: Steam Railway

DX trips for SLL shareholders are back


Father and son crew Andy and Stuart Mizen were the SLL crew on the 14:50 departure from Swanage on 23rd March. Eddystone looked great and was running very smoothly. Photo: Nick Thompson

After a break of two years (Covid, of course) we were delighted to have two days of Driving & Firing (DX is the normal abbreviation) at Swanage Railway in March. 28 SLL Shareholders made a round trip on Eddystone, supervised by a Swanage Railway crew. For many of our visitors it was their first footplate trip, and where else can you drive and fire a 130 ton Pacific loco? As you'd expect everyone was delighted by the experience; huge thanks to all the train crews, guards and ops folk for making it a success. It should be noted that the price loco coal has risen sharply, and we appreciate the donations made by participants to mitigate these costs.


Ian Wills and Chris LeFevre take the customary pose next to the cab after their trip on 22nd March. Photo: Nick Thompson

34072 257 Squadron

In recent months it has become apparent that we have a problem with 257 Squadron's superheater elements - several have developed a leak and been blanked off. A new set would currently cost well over 30,000 so it seems logical to use Sir Keith Park's which have barely had eight years use given its time at Tyseley and Covid. Therefore as soon as the locomotive has cooled down we will remoe the steam pipes and elements at 75F and send the latter to Swanage, so that they can be transferred to 257 Squadron in the minimum time.

Other than that the locomotive is performing well. As mentioned earlier, it is due to move to the Spa Valley to replace Sir Keith Park on the Polar Express duties in November/December. It is without doubt the most important month of the year for the financial health of both the Railway and Southern Locomotives!


34072 257 Squadron waits to leave Swanage on 2nd May. Photo: Peter Milford

34028 Eddystone

Eddystone re-entered service in March following the repairs to its tyres at DB Cargo in Toton. It's expected to be running passenger services throughout 2022.


34028 Eddystone at Quarr Farm Crossing on 1st May, Bank Holiday Sunday Photo: Dave Ensor

Eddystone to visit GWSR

34028 Eddystone will be travelling to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway in June for a leading role in the Cotswold Festival of Steam. The gala has a Somerset & Dorset theme, a line on which Eddystone actually worked in BR days. Full details of the gala can be found here.


LMS 4-4-0 40654 won't be at the Cotswold Festival of Steam, but S&D veteran Eddystone will be there. It's seen here heading south on at Masbury hauling the Pines Express in the early 1960's. Photo: Mike Esau

34070 Manston

Much of the work necessary to complete Manston's overhaul has been completed. A bent rocker arm was repaired and the valves are all installed, and setting the valve timing is in progress. A new cab floor has been made, all the grate is fitted and working. A new steam brake has been installed, the injectors and associated pipework are complete and with the elements installed the steam pipes have been reinstated in the smokebox.


Work has proceeded in areas that you cannot see; the valves are being set, in the smokebox, the conduit runs are being revamped, and the matt varnishing is now almost complete. Photo: Dave Ensor

The locomotive is due to be completed at the end of June which is not a moment too soon after being taken out of service in July 2017 following a low speed bump which bent the front frames. It's been pointed out that the cabside numbers on our locomotives haven't quite been completed with the black line surrounding each numeral. This is now being rectified with the aid of a signwriter; it's only a minor item but it does look slightly odd with larger numerals especially on Eddystone.


The painter's special brew of gloss and undercoat on the new smoke deflectors matches Manston's somewhat worn paintwork. Photo: Nick Thompson

Further work has been done to Manston to ensure it enters service in tip-top condition, though it will not have a full re-paint at this time. It will return to service clean but with a 'lived-in' patina. Ironically this means that the new smoke deflectors which were painted in gloss have now been 'weathered' with specially brewed paint believed to be a mixture of gloss and undercoat.

The old smoke deflectors will be sold at auction by Talisman Railwayana to raise funds for our locos' restoration and overhauls. The auction will be at the Gartell Light Railway, near Templecombe on Saturday 15th October. Bids can be made by phone or in advance of the live auction.


Each smoke defector comes in three parts which make them fairly easy to handle. They would fit the back of most hatchbacks. The smoke deflectors will be auctioned separately. Iconic items which would grace any room in the house or garden shed! Photo: Nick Thompson

34053 Sir Keith Park

SKP spent another short spell as 34095 Brentor for a photo charter, and then gained a Scottish look with a suitable shed plate and blue front number plate to match two visiting Caledonian Railway locos. It then reverted to its true ID with its nameplates and new crests. Sunday 15th May was SKP's last day in service, and its final runs over the weekend were well patronised.

Ian Silvester made a video featuring SKP running as Brentor for a photographic charter on 21st March.

Our goal is to have the loco back in service in 2023, and we're about to embark on a complex project involving several locations. First there is work to do at 75F prior to its dispatch to Herston Works at the end of May or early June. As mentioned we have had problems with 257 Squadron's superheater elements, and will use Sir Keith Park's which have barely had eight years use given its time at Tyseley and Covid. As as soon as the locomotive has cooled down we will remove the steam pipes and elements, which will be sent on to Herston so they can be installed on 257 Squadron in the minimum time.


34053 Sir Keith Park hauled the passenger services on the Spa Valley Railway on 15th May, its final day when the boiler ticket expired. Here it's returned to the 75F MPD after the day's work. Photo: Liam Treveil

The loco will move to Herston in June where further dismantling will take place. The North Norfolk are a little behind with Sidmouth's boiler overhaul so it won't be ready until July. When that boiler is ready Sir Keith Park will be transferred to the NNR for the complex job of fitting Sidmouth's boiler to Sir Keith's frames. This is the first time that we've swapped a boiler on one of our Bulleids so we're prepared for all sorts of problems. The firebox 'feet' that the boiler sits on have to be in the same place and at the same angle as SKP's boiler were. These feet are placed on plates to allow for expansion and contraction of the boiler as it heats and cools. The NNR will also have the usual problem of fitting the ashpan whilst the boiler is in the air; in our experience the predrilled holes around the edge of the ashpan rarely line up with the studs around the base of the firebox so some last minute drilling and welding has to take place. It's a case of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.


On 13th July 2012 34053 Sir Keith Park moved under its own steam for the first time since it was withdrawn from BR service in 1965. After passing its final boiler insurance test earlier in the day it's seen running through the yard at Bridgnorth. Photo: Malcom Garner

When the boiler is safely in place SKP will return to Herston for completion, and then return for future duty at the Spa Valley Railway. We must thank the Spa Valley, North Norfolk and Swanage Railway for their assistance in this complex and expensive exercise.

34010 Sidmouth and 35025 Brocklebank Line at Sellindge

Progress of these two locomotives is very much intertwined. Currently Sidmouth is having all the attention at Sellindge and there has been a transformation since its arrival last year. Considerable man hours have been spent and it's surprising how much can be achieved in a relatively short period of time, bearing in mind the frames appear not to have been touched since 1964.


Volunteers have cleaned the frames back to metal and are applying primer. Note that the green 'keeps' have been refitted. They hold the horns in place and reduce the stresses on the frames. Photo: Peter Spowage

The Sellindge team recognise that the company is making major investments in Manston and the hefty bill for SKP's boiler so most of the Sellindge work and facilities are self-funded by the team. The compressor we borrowed for needle gunning and grit-blasting was unreliable so much of what we intended to do has either been completed using hand tools or left for later. Fortunately we have been able to procure a much larger one which will enable us to make faster progress. The first job will be to finish Brocklebank Line's boiler, the underside and throatplate could have been finished using power tools but it would have been very awkward and time consuming.


The cylinders have been cleaned and blanked off, and the outside of the frames have fresh coat of primer. The upright scaffolding will be part of a temporary roof which our professional scafolding neighbours will help us build.

34010 34010

Inside Sidmouth's frames, looking forwards there's still a lot of work to do.

Looking backwards cleaning and priming looks pretty good. Photos: Simon Troy

We have asked our friends at the North Norfolk Railway for a provisional estimate of the cost to repair Brocklebank's boiler. Our boiler inspector Peter Hawkins, who is now responsible for all our fleet, reported that he was very impressed by its condition so we await the outcome with interest. As reported, like Sidmouth's new boiler, it will need a new front tubeplate having had water pooling behind it for many years, and a 'D' patch under the front of the barrel for the same reason.


Sidmouth's boiler being overhauled at Weybourne on the North Norfolk Railway. The boiler is inverted to facilitate access to the smokebox. Note the weld build up on the front tubeplate. Photo: Chris Worby

Whilst Brocklebank Line has taken a back seat for the Winter, its cab has received much attention at Herston Works. It will be some time before it's ready as work at Herston turn to Sir Keith Park's after its arrival in the summer. When that's finished the Herston team will start work on a completely new cab for Sidmouth.


Brocklebank's Cab was moved to Herston for the attention of the cladding team led by Dave Ensor and George Parrot. The framework has been completely repaired and painted, the side panels are being made and fitted. The roof ventilator mechanism is being trialled. Photo: Dave Ensor

There is still a vast amount of work to do; everything we've done to Sidmouth's frames has to be done to Brocklebank's and we still have weeks of work to get to the really awkward parts inside the frames. This is where the gritblaster will really come into its own - where it's physically impossible to use hand tools. One thing that has become apparent is that Sidmouth was involved in a very heavy shunt at some point, with new platework inserted or repaired by BR engineers. Compared to Brocklebank Line's frames there are a lot of patches some of which look as though they were definitely Friday afternoon jobs, such is the crudeness of the welding! We hope more south-eastern based supporters will join us to help - there's a job for everyone.



Standard Class 4MT Tank locos are handsome, even when largely stripped of fittings. The boiler and copper firebox will need a lot of repairs before the loco can re-enter service, hopefully some time in 2023. Photo: Nick Thompson

Work on 80104 at Tyseley continues. In late March four SLL volunteers were onsite to work on the boiler. The tubes and flues had been removed, and it was decided that the front tube plate should be replaced. That meant that a large section of the tubeplate could be cut out providing access to the interior. As well as loose scale the walls had a coating of hardened lime scale which eventually succombed to an onslaught of needle guns and power brushes in insulubrious conditions.


Getting into the boiler via the cutout in the front tube plate is not easy, but a lot simpler than the alternative - via the regulator orifice. Photo: Nick Thompson

The next steps will be to lift the boiler, conduct NDT on the wall thickness and a close inspection by the Boiler Inspector.


We regret the say that work on Norman remains stalled, and we are planning to move the loco to another location to complete its overhaul.


During lockdown railway clubs across the land went into hibernation as in-person meetings were verboten. As in so many parts of life Zoom partially filled the gap, and our webmaster gave 11 online talks in 2021. Most clubs have now returned to 'live' meetings, though some have found the mix of online and live convenient. If your club would enjoy an online evening rammed full of Bulleid Pacifics please drop Nick a line at The presentation usually starts with this photo of Sidmouth and 257 Squadron together at Basingstoke - it's the only photos we know of which features two of our locos in BR days.


For SLL a unique photo, as it's the only known image of two of our locos together in BR days. 34010 Sidmouth and 34072 257 Squadron both head down trains at Basingtoke heading for the Bournemouth line. Presumably 34010 is on a 'fast' and will be overtaking 34072 which has come in with a 'stopper'. Photo: Colourail.

Nick's most recent talk was to the Bishop's Castle Railway Society. It's most unlikely that a Bulleid Pacific ever got as far as Bishop's Castle, particularly as the branch closed in 1935!

Battle of Britain Fighter Association

Those who have followed us a long time will recall that following the recommissioning in 1990 of 257 Squadron we became very much involved with the Battle of Britain Fighter Association raising money for them and for 257. We still have a few artifacts from those days - one of them a book signed by 154 aircrew. The book has a short potted history of each of the 3000 who took part with a photograph or a painting of many of the participants.


SLL volunteer Ray Evans has carefully check each of the 154 signatures in the books and prints.

It is appropriate for us to sell this now to raise money for Sir Keith Park. Anyone interested should contact Simon Troy ( who also has just a couple of unique prints left from 1992 signed by up to 70 aircrew complete with their squadrons. Ray Evans has kindly and laboriously identified every signature on all our prints (as most aren't for sale!) and it is remarkable when you read what happened to some of these guys who miraculously lived to tell us their tales.


March 2022


34072 arrives at Leicester North during the GCR Winter Steam Gala. Photo: John Tidmarsh.

From the Chairman

With eight locomotives and dealing with several contractors and railways it's inevitable that things will go awry now and then as the reports below will confirm. The damage to Eddystone's driving wheels was a nasty surprise, however we are still on track to have four Pacifics in operation at the same time, albeit for a very short period before Sir Keith Park is withdrawn for its 10 year overhaul. This will be quite an achievement given the circumstances over the past couple of years, and it's solely due to the fantastic support we receive from our 700+ shareholders and through the skills of our team at Herston and volunteers everywhere.


34072 257 Squadron hauling the van train at Kinchley Lane on 30th January during the GCR Gala. Photo: Alan Seymour

34072 257 Squadron

After substituting for Eddystone over the Christmas period, 257 Squadron departed for a short visit to the Great Central Railway in late January for their Winter Gala and looked as good as ever, as can be seen from the accompanying photograph.


73156 pilots 34072 on the GCR, 29th January. Photo: Stephen Bottrill.

Since then we have had two more requests for 257 Squadron's presence in other parts of the country, though these have yet to be confirmed.

34028 Eddystone

As reported elsewhere, Eddystone's driving wheels suffered damage before Christmas on a Train of Lights service. The trains were top-and-tailed and Eddystone's driver failed to notice that the steam brake was applied when it was at the rear of the moving train. To repair the resulting flats on all driving wheels it was transferred to the DB Cargo maintenance facility at Toton, where a ground lathe was available to enable the wheels to be reprofiled without the need to remove them from the loco. The bogie and trailing truck wheels were also turned to maintain alignment, and Eddystone returned to Swanage on 5th February where the motion was soon replaced.


34028 Eddystone arrived back from Toton on Saturday 4th February. It was offloaded, attached to its tender and drawn back to Swanage by the 08 shunter. Photo: Jamie Smith.

Fortunately 257 Squadron had been put into service shortly after its return from Tyseley in November, so it could handle the pre-Christmas services at Swanage, though it was unable to visit the Spa Valley to support Sir Keith Park on the Polar Express trains as planned.

34070 Manston

Manston has been the centre of attention at Herston since Christmas and good progress is being made. All the valves were removed along with the cross shafts and bearings. The piston heads and rings are having to be replaced as very worn but fortunately it hasn't been necessary to bore any of the valves, although new pins and bushes have had to be fitted where appropriate. A new piston has been organised for the centre cylinder and we await arrival of new rings being manufactured at Tyseley before fitting.


34070 Manston is in Herston for a few weeks after its overhaul at Tyseley. Photo: Dave Ensor

The electrics are being reinstated and the damaged chimney has been repaired and awaits fitting. All the cab fittings need to be refitted after the various gauges have been recalibrated. The main steam pipes need to be fitted and the boiler will need to have a hydraulic test before steaming. Brake rigging will now gradually be reinstated with most of it already refurbished; the touching up of the cladding is ongoing and the new smoke deflectors have been fitted. A full repaint will take place at a later date. The long job of overhauling the lubricators and pipework has commenced and hopefully we're still on track for completion in April.

With any luck Swanage Railway will have three operational Pacifics for the summer season - quite an attraction, and one which should bring in many paying customers.

34053 Sir Keith Park

The work on Sidmouth's boiler to be fitted to Sir Keith Park is running three months late, while fortunately Sir Keith Park's ticket has been extended to mid-May thereby earning some extra revenue. The planned boiler swap is exercising our to come up with a reliable series of movement between Swanage, Tunbridge Wells and Weybourne while minimising eye-wateringly expensive haulage costs.


34053 Sir Keith Park has been running in the Spa Valley Railway's Winter SteamUp. Its last day of operation will be Sunday 15th May. Photo: Simon Troy

The plan is to bring the locomotive to Herston for stripping and undertake ashpan work, and then transfer it to the North Norfolk Railway. This is more complicated than first thought as it is not possible to get into the yard at Weybourne because the load is too large, so it will have to be offloaded at Sheringham and brought up by rail. The better news is that following discussions between all the parties Sir Keith should still be ready for service in Spring 2023.

Prior to Christmas the locomotive performed faultlessly hauling the Polar Express trains which eventually carried 33,000 people. SLL volunteers made an occasional foray to assist in cleaning the locomotive although it always looked pretty good before the exercise! This year's event is already being planned and hopefully 257 Squadron will be the star attraction as the Swanage Railway have kindly released the locomotive for a couple of months, subject to there being no disasters involving Eddystone, Manston or 31806. Sir Keith Park's next steamings will be during half term.

34010 Sidmouth and 35025 Brocklebank Line at Sellindge

In deepest Kent Sidmouth's frames are being attacked with a variety of power tools and it is clear that after 15 years on a wagon in Eldon's sidings near Norden, literally every square inch will need to be cleaned back to essentially bare metal.


An unseasonably warm February day saw Mike Price apply the very first coat of Rustoleum to a small section of Sidmouth's frames. Photo: Simon Troy

With relatively good weather the volunteers at Sellindge are making faster progress than envisaged for this Winter. There aren't too many areas which need the grit blaster or needle guns, but the hard to get at areas under and between the frames will require a lot of man hours to get it to the standard required before transfer to Swanage.

All three cylinders have been thoroughly cleaned and will now be measured to ascertain their condition. Allan Highman appears regularly with all the taps and dies and other engineering paraphernalia we need and has been busy reaming out the stud holes around the cylinders and valves in preparation for the reinstatement of the covers. In the meantime he has produced wooden covers to protect the work done. All the horn stays and horn cheeks were removed individually and after fettling, and painting with primer, and the former have been temporarily reinstated. As with Eddystone, back in the 1990's the rear end of Sidmouth's frames are badly wasted and have been partly removed. Measurements will now be made and new plate ordered. We have an experienced welder who is willing to help us, and the frames are a good place to start.


Back to the future - Martin Stables still with donkey jacket 34 years on - a fashion icon. Photo: Simon Troy

Between official working days some of the team have been down to organise the containers and generally tidy the site, and parts now almost look respectable! We've got to know the Bulleid double decker guys who are located in the corner of the field and they are keen to upgrade the site and extend the electrics to prevent the inevitable miles of extension leads everywhere. We hope to get mains electricity routed directly into our containers which will save much time at the beginning and end of each day.


One of Sidmouth's cylinders prior to attention - clearly some original sixties clag. Photo: Simon Troy

We've managed to add to our collection of tools, mainly through the generosity of individual volunteers, however our plans for a covered structure have been put back due to costs beyond our reach.


On 26-27th January a team of SLL volunteers set to work on 80104 at Tyseley. The straps holding the boiler casing were loosened off along with the bolts holding the cab roof enabling it to be lifted. The grate components were removed and deposited on a pallet. Running boards and hand rails were removed along with other parts. The bunker was cleaned out and painted, although the paint ran out before it could be totally finished. The cab floor was thoroughly cleaned along with associated items underneath. The smokebox was cleaned up. All these tasks have saved a lot of time and money.


The rods had been removed from 80104 at Swanage, and the grate removed from the firebox. That left plenty for volunteers to get stuck into. Photo: Nick Thompson

The boiler should be lifted in early March, to be followed by a further visit from volunteers - there should be lots more degreasing and cleaning. We're buying a new tarpaulin to cover the engine after the boiler lift to ensure that it has as much protection as possible over the next couple of years, as most of of the work will beon the boiler, and the rest of the loco is in reasonably good condition.


The Webmaster's print of 80104 has returned from the framers and looks very smart with its black framing. Print by Locos-in-Profile and frame by Willow Framing of Sidmouth.



Norman leaving Bolton Abbey Station with Halloween special, 28th October 2017. Photo: D Oxtaby

Work on our Austerity tank's overhaul has not progressed and we have terminated our agreement with our contractor. We are in the process of moving the loco to an alternative site.

Eddystone at Romsey in 1992

SLL supporter Geoff Thirlby sent us photos showing 34028 Eddystone hauling a train at Romsey and Salisbury stations on 28th June 1992. Except, of course, the loco in the photo is not 34028, it's 34027 Taw Valley, temporarily dressed as '28. The loco is bearing the Portsmouth and Southsea to Salisbury via Eastleigh headcode, though it's not clear whether it's also carrying Eddystone nameplates, though Geoff says he saw such a nameplate at a sales stand on Exeter Central station after another steam around that time.

34028 34028

Geoff recalls that the train was one of several run by Network SouthEast between Eastleigh and Salisbury, where it's seen in an up platform, having somehow been turned.

34028 / 34027 comes to a signal stop at Romsey station, and Geoff and his young son, in very smart blue outfit, are there to watch. Photo: Geoff Thirlby

Quite how this came about seemed lost in the mists of history, before the Southern Pacific Rescue Group became part of SLL. So we asked Richard Moffatt, (then the head honcho of the SPRG, and now an SLL director) what he could recall. The plot thickened....

Richard Moffatt: "1992 was also the year of Ashford Railway Works 150th Anniversary. British Railways and Ashford Borough Council put on celebratory festival fortnight with steam trains to Hastings via Rye - all powered by 34027. Taw Valley was to be based for the steam trips at part of the old Ashford Railway Works Building now the area crane shop. She arrived in a filthy condition and then the members of 34028's then owners, Southern Pacific Rescue Group based at nearby Sellindge, arrived mob-handed and clean her up.

The late Mike Whittingstall and I had previously hatched the idea of the partial identity swop in exchange for the deep cleanse when we first heard that 34027 was coming. I telephoned Bert Hitchens to run the idea past him. At first he asked, "Why would you want to do that?" Well, he agreed in the end - even though I'm sure that the plain-speaking Bert initially didn't really get it! It was arranged that Taw Valley would become 34028 Eddystone on the left-hand side of 34027 on the final weekend of Ashford 150 whilst on static display at Chart Leacon Depot. It comprised one of 28's name plates (in black) and on the cabside the '7' was covered with a special colour matched panel with an '8' fixed with vaseline. Finally the '7' on the smoke box door number plate was covered with a stick-on '8'. Bert was so impressed with the cleaning and the partial identity transformation he offered to leave the changes on for a forthcoming railtour - the one with Salisbury and Romsey on the itinerary. Bert had risen to our level of imagination! Left Hand Side was chosen for the swap as that was the side most likely to be adjacent to platform. Eddystone of course at the time was in a thousand pieces back at Sellindge. Restoration was proceeding with appreciable progress with one item, the cab - fully restored, correctly painted and lined out with numerals etc. For Ashford 150 we fitted castor wheels to it and trundled it into one of the Ashford Shopping centres as a sales and promotion stand. Worked very well.


The week before its trip to Romsey 34027 Taw Valley hauled the Atlantic Coast Express from Waterloo to Exeter, and is seen here near Stoford. Photo: Martin Loader

The reason I mention this is that I believe that the light pacific cabs were built at Ashford Works, then in our time it was restored for us by engineering students at Ashford Technical College. The paint and lining/numeral job was carried out in the form of sponsorship by Adrian Coney of Reg Coney Signcraft Ltd. Reg Coney, Adrian's father had been a painter at Ashford Works and had prepared and painted the 'D' class No. 737 before being first moved into preservation at Clapham. Adrian also prepared the colour matched numerals (FOC) for applying to 34027."

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