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December 2013

34072 257 Squadron overhaul

Steady progress is being made on the overhaul of 34072 257 Squadron, though in the absence of driving wheels and a boiler it still doesn't look much like a loco. Stripping the loco is virtually complete, and the process of rebuilding has begun. Most obviously the sandboxes have been refitted. The piston valves have been rebored, new horncheeks are being made and fitted, and dozens of bushes in the brake gear are being re-made. Individual components are being dismantled, cleaned and re-assembled.

horn guides   257 Squadron frames

New cheek plates have been machined for the horn guides of 257 Squadron driving wheels.

The frames of 257 Squadron. The obvious fixtures are the four sandboxes.

pressure valves   piston valves

Each cylinder has two pressure valves which are set to 300psi to relieve pressure if water enters the cylinders.

The piston valve sleeves are in good condition and only needed a re-bore.

34070 Manston

Manston has been been in occasional use on Swanage Railway during the Autumn and will be used over the Christmas period and on their Santa Special services, which sold out before the first trip ran. In the New Year Manston will be out of service for some weeks to be fitted with new main steam pipes, which are being made at Herston together with a new set for 257 Squadron.

Manston at Corfe

34070 Manston seen leaving Corfe Castle for Norden on 6th September. Photo: Barry Quince .

34053 Sir Keith Park

Update: Sir Keith Park was in action at SVR over the Christmas period, and clocked up 100 days in passenger service during 2013. It had been announced that it would be travelling to the West Somerset Railway to take part in their Spring Gala (27-30th March) which has a "Withered Arm" theme including a recreation of the Atlantic Coast Express. However the loco suffered damage to its middle cylinder while operating on 1st January, and has been withdrawn for repairs. The trip to WSR has been cancelled.

However, there's a fair chance - subject to confirmation - that Manston will go to the WSR Gala..

SLL 2014 Calendar

2014 Calendar

Thanks to those who ordered a copy of this year's SLL Calendar. 70 copies were printed and we raised £40 for SLL funds. The calendar's photographs featured all of SLL's locos from 34010 Sidmouth in 1964 to a recent view of 34053 Sir Keith Park. We still have a very few available, so please get in touch if you're interested.

Pen & Sword Books

Pen & Sword Books is an independent publisher based in Barnsley who specialise in history, military and transport books. They have kindly offered us copies of three recent releases to use as prizes in forthcoming competitions.


Pen & Sword's new books are, Railway Disasters by Simon Fowler, England's Cathedrals by Train, by Murray Naylor, and The Quintinshill Conspiracy by Jack Richards & Adrian Searle.

The first of these will be a Photo Competiton to mark Sir Keith Park's visit to West Somerset Railway as mentioned above. Details will be available nearer the date.

Shareholder News

We have arranged for our 2014 Annual General Meeting to be held at the Engine House, Highley station, SVR, on Saturday 27th September. Formal notice will be published nearer the date. The preceding two days (25th & 26th September) have been reserved for shareholder driving and firing trips.

October 2013

34072 257 Squadron overhaul

With the removal of the inside piston rod and crosshead on 11th October, stripping down 257 Squadron is effectively complete. Some rebuilding has already started, with the completed rear truck, new cab sections, steam-heating and vacuum pipes, the angle section which supports the cladding, and the rear sandboxes already in place. Work on the front bogie is almost complete.

pic1   pic2

New cheek plates are required for the horn guides of 257 Squadron. These are machined from rectangular blocks of steel; one is seen here on the shaper.

New bearings are also being made for the axleboxes. The grooved sections will hold the white metal that provides the bearing surface for the axle.

Manston at Great Central Railway

34070 Manston was at the GCR for 10 days. It ran regular GCR services on Sunday 29th September, then featured in a photo charter on 30th. Gala services ran from 3rd-6th October, and Manston was in service throughout, running all its booked turns and some extras. Graham Froud from Swanage Railway accompanied the loco on the visit. Many thanks to those who sent SLL photographs of the loco's participation. These are displayed as a new collection in our online gallery.

Manston at GCR

A great shot of Manston in action at Woodthorpe on 30th September 2013 when it ran a Photo Charter. (c) Paul Gildersleeve.

pic1   pic2

Manston ran four trips with the service train on the Sunday before the GCR Gala. It's seen here at Kinchley Lane on 29th Sept. (c) Rick Eborall

Manston running round at Leicester North on Sunday 4th October. (c) John Tidmarsh

2013 AGM and Shareholder event

Once again the Swanage Railway hosted our annual shareholders Driving & Firing days on 10-11th October. Our loco was 34070 Manston, freshly returned from Loughborough. 28 Shareholders tried their hand at driving and firing, expertly supervised by Graham Froud and Billy Johnson. 34028 Eddystone was running the service trains on those days, and some shareholders (and wives) enjoyed a footplate trip on that too. Many also visited Herston works to see how work was progressing on 257 Squadron.

Thanks are due to Swanage Railway and its operating staff for hosting the event and helping everyone to make the most of the experience.

headboard   Ray Chick

The headboard used for our Shareholder trips looks like it's seen a few years of wear. Does anyone know when it was made?

Ray Chick is a new shareholder and this was his first time on the footplate. To start with a drive of Manston is quite a debut!

On the following Saturday morning the SLL AGM was held in Harmans Cross Village Hall.

The AGM was the best attended for some years, with over 40 shareholders and board members present. In the absence of Geoff Thompson procedings were led by Jon Cleverdon (Finance Director), and included reports by Simon Troy and Nick Thompson. The formal business was conducted briefly, leaving time for some interesting discussions.

2014 Calendar

This time last year, on a rainy day, the Webmaster put together a 2013 calendar featuring 12 photos of Sir Keith Park, from BR days, via Barry, restoration, and finally running on the SVR. It was intended for the staff and volunteers working at Herston, but the word got about and eventually 40 copies were printed using Vistaprint.

2013 Calendar

The 2013 Calendar featured 12 photos of Sir Keith Park, from its days as a "spamcam", at work in the 60s, rusting at Barry, restoration, and finally running on SVR. The 2014 calendar features photos of Norman, 257 Squadron, Eddystone, Manston, 80104, Sir Keith Park, Sidmouth both new and old. Each photo is printed on a high-gloss A4 sheet, and the calendar has a monthly grid, also A4.

We've designed another for 2014, with photos of all the SLL locos as restored and from the past. They are currently being printed and will be available from mid-November onwards, in time for Christmas. The price is £10 for one copy (inc. UK P&P) and £8 each for second and further copies. Please note that is a "Nick Thompson Enterprises" venture, aimed at covering the costs and no more. If we make any money it will go into the collecting bucket at Herston.

Please email Nick Thompson to order one.

Norman - a grafter

Austerity Saddle Tanks might not be the most glamorous of locos, but when it comes to hard work they take some beating. Norman has been at Embsay for three seasons and is still hard at it. This August it was working for 27 out of the 31 days in the month.

Norman at Embsay

Norman stands at Embsay on 13th July 2013, ready for another trip along the line. It has recently repainted in black, and renumbered as BR J94 68005. Photos showing the new livery can be seen in the Picasa gallery.

Southern Pacific

SLL published Southern Pacific magazine, primarily for shareholders, twice per year from 1994 to 2007, and prior to that a similar News Update magazine was produced. It ceased due to production costs and the emergence of the internet as the primary means of communication. While our website may provide much more up-to-date news and details, at almost no cost, Southern Pacific included background articles about the world of southern steam, notably those written by Tom Rayner.

To enable today's readers to find out more about the earlier days of SLL and the groups which formed it we digitised the printed copies and published them in our Links page. This has recently been augmented and now contains all editions, even the elusive No.18.

Southern Pacific

Pages 6 & 7 of the Autumn 1994 edition of Southern Pacific tell how one "small ad" in Steam Railway magazine resulted in a host of new share application forms arriving on Simon's desk. It also recounts the arrival by helicopter of the board of Tarmac Ltd in the yard of Swindon Works, where ex-Barry 34072 was stored while Port Line was being restored. That encounter resulted in a loan of £150,000 with which 257 Squadron was restored.

September 2013

31st August 2013 - A Grand Day

On Saturday 31st August, a year after 34053 Sir Keith Park entered service on Severn Valley Railway, we held our recommissioning ceremony at Kidderminster, followed by a special dining train along the line. The unveiling was performed by the New Zealand High Commissioner, Sir Lockwood Smith. Our other guests included members of Sir Keith Park's family, the Bulleid family, around 100 SLL shareholders with partners and friends, a Guard of Honour by the Air Training Corps, Standard bearing members of the RAF Association and The Royal Observer Corps Association, and not least three veteran airmen who flew in the Battle of Britain. The climax was a flypast at Bridgnorth by a Spitfire and a Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. A very busy day, so best to let the pictures tell the story:

pic1   pic2

After a final polish at Bewdley MPD, 34053 arrived at Kidderminster. Frank Shepperd signals to driver Duncan Ballard where to stop. Frank is a volunteer Duty Officer at SVR and had drafted 7 pages of SVR operational instructions for the day. He's also an SLL Shareholder and served in RAF 11 Group during the 1950's. (c) Bob Sweet

We were privileged to welcome three airmen who fought in the Battle of Britain. From the left: Flying Officer Ken Wilkinson, Wing Commander Dick Summers and Squadron Leader Tony Pickering. (c) Bob Sweet

pic1   pic2

Our guest speakers received a framed copy of Richard Green's print of 34053. From the left: NZ High Commissioner Sir Lockwood Smith, Squadron Leader Jim Beirne who spoke on behalf of the RAF, Nick Ralls, SVR General Manager, and Terence Stevens-Prior, great nephew of Sir Keith Park. (c) Bob Sweet

After the ceremony our train set off to Bridgnorth. 130 guests including SLL volunteer Ray Evans and his wife Ann enjoyed a three-course lunch. (c) Bob Sweet

pic1   pic2

At Bridgnorth our loco ran round the 9 coach train and coupled up for the return trip. Then at 2pm, a low roar announced the arrival of a Hurricane and a Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight - a great climax to the day. (c) Bob Sweet

Among the guests was Oliver Bulleid (right), grandson of OVS Bulleid the designer of the locomotive, seen here with Nick Ralls, General Manager of SVR. (c) Bob Sweet

pic1   pic2

Also enjoying a moment on the footplate was Sean Day-Lewis, who wrote "Bulleid - Last Giant of Steam". Sean admits to a strong preference to Bulleid Pacifics in their original form. (c) Nick Thompson

Sir Lockwood Smith inspected our Guard of Honour, formed by Air Cadets of 156 (Kidderminster) Squadron Air Training Corps. (c) Bob Sweet

pic1   pic2

34053 was facing south so it looked the business on the return trip, and is seen here accelerating its 9-coach train up the gradient to Bewdley Tunnel. Sir Lockwood Smith was on the footplate at this point. (c) Phil Gosling

On our return to Kidderminster there was plenty more time for talking and posing. SLL chief painter Ron Bennett is seen with his handiwork, wearing a pullover in "yellow primer". (c) Nick Thompson

pic1   pic2

Well it was the end of the day so we all let our hair down. Lady Alexandra Smith borrowed a hat from the Assistant Station Master, and was introduced to the High Commissioner! (c) Bob Sweet

The stall selling souvenir packs of the Bewdley Brewery's "Sir Keith Park" ale was virtually sold out, so time to head home. (c) Nick Thompson

There's a full gallery of photos from this event in our online gallery, here

34072 257 Squadron overhaul

So after the ceremony and excitement described above, it's back to the hard work of overhauling 257 Squadron.

pic1   pic2

The front bogie of 257 Squadron has been moved from under the frames for final work.

George Stacey is working at Herston for a year as part of his Mech Eng degree course.

pic1   pic2

The frames of 257 Squadron's new tender are fully rivetted and axlebox cheeks are fitted.

Meanwhile up at Adam Dalgleish's workshop in Stockton 257's firebox is receiving new stays.

Locos in service at Swanage

34028 Eddystone, 34070 Manston and 80104 are all in regular service at Swanage Railway. Phil Gosling kindly sent us several photos taken at the September gala.

pic1   pic2

Friday 6th September: 80104 accelerates across Corfe Common with the early morning goods from Norden. (c) Phil Gosling

34028 Eddystone heads the 17.30 from Swanage between Harmans Cross and Corfe Castle. 6th September 2013. (c) Phil Gosling


34070 'Manston' make light work of the evening goods from Swanage to Corfe Castle. 6th Sept 13. (c) Phil Gosling. Meanwhile it's been announced that Manston will visit the Great Central Railway at Loughborough for their Autumn Gala running from Thursday to Sunday 3 - 6th October. More details can be found here


Graphic Artist Richard Green is the designer of this website and is well known for his Locos-in-Profile limited edition prints. His range of available prints has grown to more than 20 and these can be seen on his website.

257 Squadron

Richard's print of 34072 257 Squadron is currently available only to new purchasers of SLL shares. He has recently created a Facebook page where news of his prints, current and future, can be found.

July 2013

Sir Keith Park recommissioning - Saturday 31st August

Arrangements are pretty much in place for this event, and it promises to be a memorable day:

The dining section of our special train is fully booked. The Severn Valley Railway has kindly agreed to add a buffet car to the non-dining section, so they will have a chance to enjoy a tea, coffee or glass of the Bewdley Brewery's Sir Keith Park ale during the trip. There are some non-dining places still available, so shareholders who'd like to come should get in touch.

Tickets for those who have booked are being send out in the week of 29th July. If you haven't received your tickets by early August please get in touch.

34072 257 Squadron restoration

257 frames   wheel lathe

The frames are currently supported on the front bogie and rear truck. The centre drivers are back at Herston and being cleaned and painted.

Working inside the frames is not easy, even with the driving wheels removed. Ray Grace guides the socket on to the steam brake cylinder while Bob Waterton provides the torque from outside.

The big news is that the frames returned to Herston, cleaned and primed, on 23rd May. New sections of rear frame doubler plate have been manufactured and fitted as there was a little wastage. The rear cab sub-frame has also been refitted with the cab roof itself replaced. The oil bath top has been removed with a new removable one being manufactured. All the motion and lubrication runs within the oilbath have been taken out for overhaul, whilst all remaining valves and valve gear have also been removed. The front buffer beam which must have a rough shunt or two has been straightened in situ. All the studs have been removed from the exhaust and inlet passages and the holes made good.

wheel lathe   wheel lathe

Enjoy the view while you can. For the moment it's not to tricky to see what's going on inside the oil bath of the Bulleid Valve gear. There are two sets of miniature Walschaerts gear to the left, one to the right. The left-most set drives the centre cylinder through a rocking shaft.

So what's this then? Recently made in the workshop, this item will be much photographed on 31st's the bracket which will hold the three flags (UK, NZ and RAF) at the front of Sir Keith Park.

257 Squadron's smokebox mounting holes are studless and awaiting reinstatement of the boiler which is making good progress at the workshops of Adam Dalgleish on Teesside. We have a lot of tubes, flues and elements to purchase so we are negotiating prices for a bulk purchase to cover more than one locomotive. All the remaining tube ends were removed soon after arrival of the boiler on Teesside and the rear tube plate was removed along with wasted firebox plates. The new tubeplate is already on site and will be fitted shortly. The boiler has been examined by the boiler inspector and non-destructive testing carried out. We understand that the overhauled boiler could be returned by the end of this year but we will probably delay this until into 2014 we are unlikely to complete the bottom half of the locomotive before then.

wheel lathe   wheel lathe

The tender frames are laid out while the horn cheeks are fitted. The frames have now been moved to the rear of the workshop, so work can continue out of the way of other comings and goings.

The horn cheeks for the tender axle boxes are attached to the frames with fitted bolts. Malcolm readies the sledge hammer to hit the flogging spanner, to be held in place by the webmaster, when he puts his camera down.

One of the reasons is that half the team are building a new tender, and this is also progressing well. The front and rear dragboxes have been fitted and drilled and the frames, having been assembled, have been turned over ready for riveting and the fitting of the stretchers. The spring hanger pockets have been machined and drilled and are ready for riveting whilst the horn cheeks have also been machined and fitted. The brake hanger brackets have been manufactured and drilled and are awaiting riveting. The brake hangers themselves are in the latter stages of machining whilst the axleboxes and bearings have been ordered. We have placed an order for two tender tanks with Adam Dalgleish, one for 257 Squadron and one for Eddystone.

34028 Eddystone

Eddystone has been passed to operate until the end of the 2014 season and we’re hoping that the Swanage Locomotive Department can get ‘28 through its entire ticket. As locomotives approach this period of their operational lives more running repairs are probable, and with 80104 also in its latter stages of operation, their work will be cut out.


Talking of 80104, there was recently an excellent photo of it the Daily Mail. You can see the article by clicking here, though readers are warned that it also includes pictures of scantily clad girls enjoying the hot weather which they won't enjoy at all!

34070 Manston

Manston is now back in operation having had a full repaint which because of the awful weather took rather longer than anticipated.

Norman Times


Our Austerity Saddle Tank Norman doesn't usually make the headlines, though it did feature in the Travel section of The Times on 25th May. Norman is in regular service on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, near Skipton, which is well worth a visit.

norman   norman

Norman waits to leave Embsay station on 13th July. The young lady is Steph Thorne, working her first day as trainee fireman. On the footplate is Roger Siner, who worked on the restoration of 257 Squadron at Swindon in the 1980's - it's a small world.

Norman sets off for Bolton Abbey with the 13.30 departure. Norman has been the mainstay of steam services on the line. Another 0-6-0 Saddle Tank Beatrice can be seen in the shot; this is being run-in after a long overhaul.

May 2013

Sir Keith Park recommissioning - Saturday 31st August

Thank you to everyone who has completed and sent in a Booking Form for the Sir Keith Park recommissioning event, in most cases including cheques for dinner (lunch) in the diner. We have plenty of space left on the train, though seats in the dining cars are just about sold out. If you're an SLL shareholder and would like a non-dining seat please fill out the Booking Form and send it off; if you particularly wish to dine please drop us an email; we will find you a seat or two if possible.

We've also been asked about travel and accommodation. Without going too much into the realm of tourist information, there's a Premier Inn in the middle of Kidderminster which has some good deals, or try Trip Advisor.

If you're planning to come from London by train, there's an 08:00 from London Marylebone which will get you to Kidderminster at 10:50 (change at Birmingham Moor Street), or catch the 08:43 from Euston and change Birmingham New Street >> Moor Street, which will also get you there at 10:50.

34010 21C110

We're pleased to report that, subject to the usual caveats, the RAF Memorial Flight will make a flypast with a Hurricane and a Spitfire on the day. This will probably be at Bridgnorth station at 14:00

257 Squadron restoration

Back in March new tyres were fitted to the centre set of 257 Squadron's driving wheels at SDR Engineering in Buckfastleigh. Subsequently Nick Davies and John Orme from SDR Engineering visited Herston to measure up the other two wheelsets, which have new tyres, so that the centre set can be machined to match. That was done on 9-10th May and we were invited to watch the process.

wheel lathe   wheel lathe

John Orme of SDR Engineering machining the inside face of a tyre on 257 Squadron's centre wheelset. Note the crank for 257 Squadron's inside connecting rod.

The wheel lathe is around 100 years old, and runs at a maximum of 15 rpm. So far the largest wheels it has machined came from a GWR Castle Class loco, whose radius is a couple of inches greater than a Bulleid Pacific's.

There are presently two wheel lathes in use at Buckfastleigh; a more modern automatic machine is used for smaller wheelsets such as those needed for coaches and 08 Diesel shunters. The large driving wheels of locos such as 257 Squadron are turned on a much larger, and older, lathe built by Fairbairn, Macpherson of Leeds in the early 20th century. The wheelset is mounted in the lathe, and each tyre is machined separately. The inside face of the tyre is trued up, and the flanges are machined so they are the correct distance apart. Then the running tread of one tyre is turned to the correct angle and diameter, and finally the flange profile is machined. This process is repeated for the other tyre. The driving wheels of steam locos must conform to the P9 profile, which is different from that of coaches, etc. A Go / No Go gauge is used to check the final dimensions.

wheel lathe   wheel lathe

The final profile of the flange is machined with a tool shaped to the P9 profile. The whole job takes around two days.

The profile is checked with a "Go / No Go" guage, held in place and checked with the hand tool with the allowable tolerances.

It's impressive to see such a large item as a 6'2" diameter wheelset being machined to such accuracy. The Buckfastleigh works is one of the few places in Europe (and probably the world) with the skills and equipment to do such work can be done on steam engines, and it is crucial to the continuing operation of many heritage railways. Our thanks for permitting access to see them at work.

Workshop Update

257 frames   257 frames

The frames were lifted from the truck and lowered on to 257 Squadron's front bogie and rear truck, so they could be run back on the track to the rear of the workshop.

The frames in place in the workshop, and most of the track removed. The cab has been lowered into place. Photos: Bob Bevis

The frames of 257 Squadron returned to Herston works on 22nd May, after cleaning at South Coast Steam Ltd., on Portland. They were lifted on to their bogies outside the workshop and rolled into position at the back left-hand side of the workshop (where Sir Keith Park was assembled). The first job is to get the frames painted, then the long task of rebuilding can begin.

sand box   cylinder cover

Back in March the sand reservoirs were caked in oil and sand. Now they're cleaned up and painted, and ready for the next 10 years of, er, being caked in oil and sand!

In February Sir Keith Park's left rear cylinder cover developed a crack. We have the pattern for this item, so we got two new castings made. Just as well, as the right hand one has also given trouble since then.

bogie   brake levers

257 Squadron's front bogie is back together after new bearings, etc. It was re-wheeled on 9th May. Here Ron Neal aligns the frames over the wheelsets.

The new tender for 257 Squadron is just that; the whole thing needs to be built from scratch. The levers in the brake linkage have now been machined and are ready for assembly.

34010 21C110

For over 20 years SLL had a base at Bitton on the Avon Valley Railway. Dave Town and Derrick Upshall fabricated components for Manston and Sir Keith Park's new tenders, and some of 80104's restoration was done there. The accumulated supplies have been now moved to Herston, not least an impressive range on nuts, bolts, washers, taps, dies, etc. Valuable stocks, but only if sorted out and stored correctly, which is what four volunteers spent the best part of two days doing.

April 2013

Nicosia 01-04-13

Cyprus based Russian Billionaire Simoniz Troyski today announced that he had successfully bid for the entire share capital of Southern Locomotives Ltd. Speaking from his hilltop lair near Dartford he spoke of his plans for the company. "For too long the company has devoted its effort to recreating the obsolete technology of the 1940's. Under my Leadership we will create new Leaders, and rather than naming them after airfields and men of the past we will pick names which will inspire today's travellers."

Willie Bath   Ron Bennett

Troyski (far right, literally) and his henchmen inspect a new revenue protection device

First glimpse of SLL's new fleet of 21st Century motive power.

Troyski's spokesman Nicolai Tomski added, "Commuters in North Kent can look forward to being hauled by trains named after great leaders of recent times, such as Stalin, Gaddafi and Willie Bath. Let's face it, the service couldn't be any worse."

Sir Keith Park recommissioning event - Saturday, 31st August

Arrangements for the event at Kidderminster are coming together well; the Royal Air Force has confirmed its participation, the New Zealand High Commissioner plans to join us. We're in contact with some very interesting people and groups, so we're expecting a memorable day.

SKP Naming   Dining Car

19th September 1947, Sir Keith Park named Southern Railway loco number 21C153 after himself. 66 years later we will recall that occasion, and mark the fine restoration of the loco bearing his name.

34053 Sir Keith Park will haul the SVR Dining Car train to Bridgnorth and back, while we can enjoy a good lunch, meet friends old and new, and talk about old times.

SLL shareholders and invited guests have been sent priority invitations, and can download the Invitation and Booking Form. Seats on the train and dining places are limited, and are offered subject to availability, so please let us know if you wish to come.

April 2013

257 Squadron Overhaul

Rebuilding an express steam loco involves some heavy engineering - boiler repairs being an obvious example. Large components need forging and pressing with skills and equipment which are much rarer than in previous generations. There are only a handful of workshops capable of fitting a steel tyre on to the large driving wheels of a loco like 257 Squadron. Fortunately one of these is not too far away, at the South Devon Railway's workshop in Buckfastleigh. In 2012 the SDR bought much of the equipment used by Pridham's of Tavistock when its owners retired, and their large presses and machine tools are now in regular use, making boiler components for many steam locos, and fitting tyres to large driving wheels. They also have a steady trade in new tyres for Class 08 Diesel shunters and heritage diesels.

SLL has an available set of Bulleid driving wheels with decent tyres; those which were originally used on 34053. There was a general switch-round caused by the slipped tyres on Eddystone a few years ago. However 53's crank axle has the eccentric used by a rebuilt Bulleid to drive its inside cylinder valve gear whereas 257 Squadron needs a chain sprocket suitable for Bulleid enclosed motion. The net result is that 257 Squadron's centre wheelset requires new tyres.

Willie Bath   Ron Bennett

257's crank axle held on the hoist while the new tyre is being heated to expand its inside diameter to fit over the wheel. The metal blocks on the wheel are to balance it straight.

The wheelset is lowered into place and cools on to the wheel. It will need to be turned to the required profile and diameter to match the other driving wheels.

Scoop Thompson of SLL News was on hand to see the job done on 27th March. The new tyre is set in a large hearth at floor level, and surrounded by 24 sectional propane heaters. These are lit and left for around 40 minutes to heat the tyre to 275 - 300 DegC. The wheelset has previous been attached to the gantry crane by chains, and carefully balanced so that the rim of the wheel will slide freely into the new tyre. When hot a tyre of this size will have expanded by up to 3/8 inch, so provided the wheel and tyre are well aligned the process takes a matter of seconds. Once in place, the assembly is left to cool for a few hours while the rim shrinks on to the wheel. Then the wheelset is turned over and the other tyre is fitted.

The whole process is very impressive, though the SDR Engineering team do this work most weeks, and make it all look straight forward. Many thanks to Rob Le Chevalier and his team for letting me watch them in action. Restoration2013#5860109217639567090" target="_blank">here.

Riveting stuff

Meanwhile, back at Herston, work on 257 Squadron has also been progressing. One major task is the building of a complete new tender. The frames are assembled using the traditional process of hot riveting. We've all seen the film of shipbuilders on the Clyde throwing and catching red-hot rivets with tongs; fortunately the "throwing and catching" bit wasn't needed, but the idea is the same, and impressive to watch from a safe distance. Two steel components are drilled to size, a rivet is heated in a hearth, swiftly inserted in the hole, and hammered round at both ends. As the rivet cools it contracts, holding the steel plates together for life.

hot riveting   hot riveting

Willie Bath heats the rivets with a propane torch in a small brick hearth. Bob Bevis mans the tongs, carrying each red-hot rivet to the adjacent tender frames.

Bob positions the rivet in the hole, then Liam and Jimmy use pneumatic hammers to round both ends; they make it look quite easy, but then that's their skill.


The Swanage Railway is repainting 34070 Manston prior to the coming season. Unlined and without identification it looks rather mysterious, and the colour looks rather malachite, but rest assured it will be back in BR Green (aka Brunswick) soon.

34010 21C110

This is 34070 Manston, though the loco is unlined and without name or number. Seen in the goods shed siding at Swanage station, 3rd March. (c) Ian Sell

Sir Keith Park

After a winter break Sir Keith Park has re-entered service at SVR. At the end of February a hairline crack was noticed in the LH rear cylinder cover, requiring the loco to be stopped. We have spare front covers, but not a rear. One was borrowed from another friendly Bulleid owner. It needed to be cleaned up and had a worn thread on the pressure relief valve orifice. The orifice was milled oversize and re-threaded, and a bronze sleeve was made, threaded to fit the oversize hole on the cover and the pressure relief valve internally.

Cylinder cover   Cylinder cover

The bronze sleeve made at Herston to make the spare cylinder cover servicable.

The replacement cylinder cover fitted to Sir Keith Park.

This was done on 7-8th March which coincided with our volunteer session, so Malcolm Garner, who lives in Bewdley, was on hand to deliver it to Bridgnorth on the 9th. It was fitted and tested in the next few days, in time for a series of Driving & Firing trips chartered by SLL shareholders and supporters for 19 - 21st March, closely followed by service during the SVR Spring Gala, though this was notable for the particularly wintery weather. Great teamwork all round!

Sidmouth Belle   SVR Gala

The Driving & Firing charter ran as "Sidmouth Belle" for two days. EX10 is a hotbed of SLL supporters. (c) J Oates

Sir Keith Park enters Kidderminster during the SVR "Spring" Gala. Just the shot for 2013 Christmas Cards! (c) J Tidmarsh

The damaged cover will return to Herston shortly for repair, and we are also ordering two new castings from the pattern so we'll be well prepared if this happens to any of our Bulleids in the future.

2013 AGM and Shareholders' Driving & Firing

We have set the date of this year's AGM as Saturday 12th October, to be held at Harmans Cross Village Hall. It will be a morning meeting, probably starting at 11.00 a.m. Formal Notice will be sent to shareholders in due course.

We are also arranging two days of Driving & Firing for Shareholders on Thursday and Friday 10 - 11th October. The loco used will probably be 34028 Eddystone, which is due to come out of service for overhaul at the end of the 2013 season. Shareholders will be invited to apply for places on these trips nearer the date. With coal at £200 per ton the cost of these trips is significant, and we will be asking participants to make a donation or sponsor a tube for 257 Squadron if they are selected for a trip.

And finally....

Once again Mike Frackiewicz has turned up an interesting photo of an SLL loco. This time it's rather a good colour shot of a very dirty 34072 257 Squadron entering Sherborne with an up train in 1962. Mike bought the slide second hand some time ago with no other details attached, and as it was taken over 50 years ago that's all we may ever know, unless anyone can tell us more.

34072 Sherborne

257 Squadron entering Sherborne. 1962 Photo: Mike Frackiewicz collection.

February 2013

Sir Keith Park ceremony, 31st August 2013

Thanks to everyone who responded to last month's "save the date" notice concerning the renaming event for Sir Keith Park to be held on 31st August.

Plans are moving ahead, both for the renaming ceremony at Kidderminster station and for the special dining train which our loco will haul over the Severn Valley Railway. We hope to nail down all the details and send out registration forms in the next couple of months. Please make sure the date - Saturday 31st August - is saved in your diaries.

34053 Sir Keith Park

Sir Keith Park has been in daily service over the recent half-term period. Here it's seen crossing Oldbury Viaduct, just south of Bridgnorth on Sunday 17th February. This photo was taken by Lewis Maddox, who managed to catch the moment perfectly including the shadows in the valley and glint of sun on the loco. (c) L Maddox

Lewis Maddox is one of a number of photographers who occasionally send us photos of Sir Keith Park in action, to the point where our "SKP at SVR" gallery has over 140 images. For some reason we are rarely offered photos of Eddystone, Manston or 80104 in action on the Swanage Railway....perhaps we never invited them? To remedy this we have set up a new gallery, SLL at Swanage 2013, and warmly invite contributors to send in one or two of the best photos they take there in the coming year. Not to be forgotten, we've also created a gallery for Norman at Embsay.

34072 257 Squadron Overhaul update

The loco's frames are still off-site being cleaned and painted, but 34072's overhaul is proceeding apace. The frames for the new tender have arrived and are being drilled prior to hot-rivetting, while the front and rear bogies are well advanced. The crank axle is due to be re-tyred in early March (at Buckfastleigh), so when wheels, bogies and frames are back in one place it will start to look like a loco.

Willie Bath   Ron Bennett

Willie Bath using the large Broadbent lathe to machine the drawbar for the new tender to run with 34072. The blank was flame cut from sheet steel; in the "old days" it would have been forged "roundish" to reduce machining.

It would be more news-worthy to show a photo of Ron Bennett without a paint brush in hand, but here he is as usual applying the black top coat to the safety links of the new tender.

Most of the cladding for 34072 will be need to be re-made from scratch, but its framing is restorable, and Dave Ensor and the "Superior Cladding Department" are engaged on this.

Colour-Rail Image Library

Over the last 30 years Colour-Rail has grown into a leading image library with many thousands of photographs of rail and road travel from as far back as 1900. The photos were gathered from many excellent photographers whose collections are a vital archive of the steam age. Not surprisingly all of SLL's locos (except Norman) are represented and Paul Chancellor, who runs the company, has very kindly supplied us with some interesting examples.

Most Colour-Rail images have a full caption and provenance, but there are some where the loco can be clearly identified but other details are tantalisingly absent. The four shown below fit into the latter category.

34028   34028

34028 in original form, but with BR number, so the date must be between 1948 and 1958. Eddystone spent these 10 years on the SW Division, but where is this? The platform on both sides of the train must be a clue. Photographer: Not known. (c) Colour-Rail

34028 Eddystone again, but this time at Midford on the S&D, and it's July 1961. But why is it running Light Engine, apparently heading south? Photographer: M Thompson (c) Colour-Rail

34053   34070

A fine shot of 34053 Sir Keith Park taken in October 1960. Is this Southampton Central, looking west? Can anyone confirm the location, and "for an extra point", who is the driver oiling round while the loco is at the station, probably taking water? Photographer: not known. (c) Colour-Rail.

34070 Manston, still with a high-sided tender, but date and place not recorded. Is the headcode Waterloo to Bournemouth, so could this be approaching Southampton Central, just past Northam Jct? Photographer: no known. (c) Colour-Rail

You'll probably need the full-screen versions of these and other Colour-Rail photos of our fleet to see if you can add more details, which you can find here. If you'd like to add any comments please drop an email to the webmaster.

To find out more about Colour-Rail and search their vast collection, click here.


Norman remains at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway and recently saw service in the snow hauling two of the line's train of vintage coaches.


The railway runs from Embsay (near Skipton) to the attractive village of Bolton Abbey. Norman and other locos on the line may be small but they haul six coach trains up gradients of 1 in 50, so there is plenty to see and hear. The stock includes several vintage carriages which are used for occasional "Stately Trains" services. The leading vehicle in this photo is a Director's saloon built for the L&Y in 1906. 27th January 2013. (c) Tim Warner

Prior to this Norman received attention to replace borrowed parts (that were used to get it running) with its own refurbished or new components. It also saw the blastpipe realigned and the reverser mechanism bushed and re-pinned. More mechanical work is planned for later in the season.

Website, Photo Galleries, social media, and that whole parallel Universe

In the last year the SLL website has notched up over 35,000 hits, 20% more than in the previous year. Many of the hits came in the spring and early summer, when Sir Keith Park was being commissioned at the SVR.

It's more difficult to record how many hits our Galleries get as these are recorded against individual photos, and the webmaster has better things to do than to add up several thousand numbers - some individual photos have had more than 1500 hits.

January 2013

Looking forward, and briefly back

2012 was an eventful year, and generally quite a good one. We started the year with three Battle of Britain's in the workshop, surely the first time that has happened anywhere since Eastleigh in the mid-1960's. Manston returned to service on the Swanage Railway, Sir Keith Park was completed and is in service on the Severn Valley Railway, and 257 Squadron's overhaul has started after a wait of 10 years. 80104 and Eddystone remain at work in Swanage, and Norman is in regular use at Embsay. We bade farewell to 80078, and wish its new owner success in restoring it to service.

Three Bulleids in Herston   No Bulleids in Herston

In December 2011 Sir Keith Park, Manston and 257 Squadron were all squeezed into Herston Works.

By December 2012 the only loco in the works was M7 No.53. 257 Squadron's frames will be back soon.

257 Squadron left Herston for its boiler lift in November. It will be back soon, and we're sure to be busy in 2013. Thank you to everyone who supported us in 2012, and we look forward to your continued support in the future.

34072 257 Squadron

34072 left Herston works by low-loader on 28th November. The first destination was South Coast Steam at Portland where the boiler was lifted. SCS will strip down and clean the frames. The front and rear bogies have already returned to Herston and are being overhauled, while the frames will return in a few weeks, depending on what other work is required. At that point the long task of re-assembling the loco will start.

Final decisions about the boiler repairs will be made after further inspections. It's expected to go to a specialist workshop for significant repairs, and won't be back for the best part of a year.

Meanwhile there is plenty going on at Herston. The frames for the new tender will be delivered soon, and their assembly can start. Although 257 Squadron is complete (unlike Sir Keith Park which was twice sold as a source of spare parts) many components are worn or will need re-manufacturing.

34072 in Herston   34072 bogie

34072 257 Squadron ready to be towed back on to a low loader. 27 Nov 12

257 Squadron's front bogie has already returned to Herston and is being overhauled. 14 Dec 12

Thanks to those who have already sponsored components for 257 Squadron's restoration. A generous sponsor has already given us £250 for the new Brick Arch, so we have added some more items in that price bracket:

If you'd like to sponsor any of these items please write in the description and amount on the Sponsor Form.

There are lots of items available to suit every price bracket, so please help us return this great loco to a third life in steam. Details of our appeal can be found here and the sponsorship form can be downloaded here. Please help us get this classic loco back into service.

Save the date

Last May Sir Keith Park left Herston and moved to the Severn Valley Railway at quite short notice, and of course we didn't know how long its commissioning would take. In the event things went pretty well, but we were not able to plan an event to celebrate its re-entry to service after a gap of 47 years. The SVR is a busy place with events planned for most weekends of the summer, however we've been able to arrange a special train for Saturday 31st August 2013.

34053 nameplate

The ceremony planned for 31st August 2013 is expected to take place at Kidderminster station, probably around mid-day, and the train will include a dining car for those who want to celebrate in style. More details to follow in the coming months; meanwhile please save the date in your diaries.

34053 nameplate

Meanwhile 34053 Sir Keith Park was stopped just before Christmas following an operating incident which might have caused boiler damage. It's subsequently been examined and has provisionally been given the all clear. John Tidmarsh was at Bridgnorth the night before the exam, and his photos somehow captures the tension. (c) J Tidmarsh

And finally

34053 nameplate

Regular volunteer Mike Frackiewicz was sorting through his photo collection when he came across this view of 34072 257 Squadron on an up train at Raynes Park on 5th September 1964. It's the only colour photo we have of '72 in BR service.

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