The Bluebell Railway's Locomotives

Locomotives on Static Display

SR Q-Class No.30541 S15 No.847 SECR P-class No.178 SECR P-class 323 'Bluebell' No.3 Captain Baxter SECR C-class No.592 LBSCR E4 No.B473 (Birch Grove) SR U-class No.1638 LBSCR A1X Terrier No.55 'Stepney' GWR Dukedog No.9017 Blackmore Vale 75027 Normandy NLR Tank 92240 LSWR Radial Tank SR U-Class No.1618 4MT Tank No.80064 4MT Tank No.80100 Sharpthorn

Q-class at East Grinstead - Brian Lacey - 8 April 2015 SR Maunsell Q-class No. 30541
Class: Q
Wheels: 0-6-0
Built: 1939
Numbers carried: 541, 30541
Last major overhaul completed: April 2015
Last operational: January 2023
Previously operational: 1983-1993
Owned by The Maunsell Locomotive Society – Their web page

Bluebell web page
Photo: at East Grinstead, Brian Lacey, 8 April 2015

Built as a basic goods engine to replace life-expired pre-grouping locomotives, this was Maunsell’s final design as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern Railway. It could be described as a competent though not outstanding engine. Bulleid, Maunsell’s successor, improved the draughting arrangements with a multiple blast-pipe arrangement and new chimney, and it was in this condition that 541 was withdrawn from service in 1964. Sent to Barry scrapyard, like many other locos there it escaped the cutter’s torch and was bought by preservationists.

In 1973 it was moved to Ashchurch in Gloucestershire and moved on in 1978 to the Bluebell, where its owning group merged with those of U-class No. 1618 and S15 No. 847 to form the Maunsell Locomotive Society. The blast pipe and chimney arrangement have been further modified using BR Class 4 components, in the same way as BR had done to some of the class. This has the advantage of returning the locomotive visually to very close to its original form. Major restoration work saw it return to steam in 1983, operating for the following decade in Maunsell livery as No. 541.

An overhaul started in July 2011, and the Loco Works Working Group, who started by overhauling the tender, have also assisted with work on the loco itself. It returned to service on 28 April 2015, carrying BR livery as No. 30541, and received a valve and piston exam in 2017. Its cylinders were re-bored and steam pipes and piston rods replaced early in 2022. Firebox defects have however now seen it withdrawn from service just a couple of years earlier than had been hoped. Being in mechanically fairly good condition, but requiring new tyres and a new tender tank, consideration might be given to the possibility of a rapid boiler repair and new ticket.

S15 No.847 at Poleay Bridge - Derek Hayward - 14 December 2013 SR Maunsell S15-class No. 847
Class: S15
Wheels: 4-6-0
Built: 1936
Numbers carried: 847, 30847
Last major overhaul completed: 11 Dec 2013
Last operational: 5 December 2021
Previously operational: 13 Nov 1992 – 6 Oct 1997
Owned by the Maunsell Locomotive Society – Their web page

Audio Recording of No. 847 in action
Bluebell web page
Photo: No.847 at Poleay Bridge, Derek Hayward, 14 December 2013

This class of locomotives, of which this was the final locomotive to be built, were essentially a goods version of the King Arthur class of express passenger locos (N15). The S15s thus became known as Goods Arthurs, and like the N15s, their origins went back to the LSWR designs of Robert Urie. Coming to the Bluebell from Barry scrapyard in 1978, its restoration was not started until the Maunsell Society had completed the restoration of their Q-class locomotive in 1983.

The boiler received its hydraulic test in 1988, and although it did not enter service at that time, regulations retrospectively applied mean that the boiler certificate, valid for ten years, started ticking from that test. Hence after a relatively short spell (under 5 years) in traffic it was withdrawn for overhaul. The Maunsell Locomotive Society then carried out as much preparatory work for the boiler lift as is possible, whilst maintaining the loco in a presentable condition for display.

The overhaul commenced in earnest in October 2006, with some of funds to finance the overhaul (in the Bluebell’s own workshop) already available. The boiler overhaul, which was a major part of the project involving replacing many of the stays including the complex crown stays, was returned to the overhauled frames on 9 August 2013, and it re-entered service on 11 December that year.

Following a very successful 8 years in service, the locomotive will require futher major firebox repairs, and the driving wheel tyres are now at scrapping size and will be replaced, at its next overhaul.

178 relaunch train - 1 May 2010 - Derek Hayward SECR Wainwright P-class, No. 178
Class: P
Wheels: 0-6-0T
Built: 1910
Numbers carried: 178, A178, 1178, S1178, 31178
Last major overhaul completed: February 2010 – Details of overhaul
Last operational: 4 October 2020
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by the Bluebell Railway

Web page

The last of the four P-class tank locomotives to have steamed in preservation, 178 came to the Bluebell in 1969 after industrial service at Bowaters Paper Mill, where it carried the name “Pioneer II”.

Its best chance of restoration was seen to be outside the Bluebell Railway’s direct ownership, due to the railway already having two other Ps, and so it was sold to Southern Locomotives Ltd, who commenced its overhaul, at Sheffield Park. However, with the shift in emphasis of that group to become major providers of motive power to the Swanage Railway, it was decided more appropriate to transfer ownership of this ‘P’ class loco back to the Bluebell. This was achieved in mid 2006, thanks to funding made available by the Bluebell Railway Trust.

The overhaul was undertaken by the Loco Workshop working group, and the loco now runs in full SECR lined green, after just a few weeks initially operating in its industrial guise as “Pioneer II”.

Sadly, having a cracked cylinder, towards the end of its certificate the locomotive was capable of little more than light work. It is however ideal for light duties such as brake van rides, a role it fulfilled in 2017 on loan to the NRM in York. It will have replacement cylinders fitted at its next overhaul, once we see how those made for P-class No. 27 perform.

323 with vintage stock at Leamland Bridge - Steve Lee - 7 May 2016SECR Wainright P-class, No. 323 ‘Bluebell’
Class: P
Wheels: 0-6-0T
Built: 1910
Numbers carried: 323, A323, 1323, 31323
Last major overhaul completed: March 2011 – Details of overhaul
Last operational: 9 February 2019
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by the Bluebell Railway

Web page

323 at Sheffield Park in SECR wartime economy livery - Lewis Nodes Long the flagship of the Bluebell’s fleet, painted blue and named ‘Bluebell’ between 1961 and 1998, this loco was repainted into SE&CR wartime plain green livery, for the 1999 centenary of the SE&CR (Photo: right).

The P-class tank locomotives were, in design terms, an updated copy of the LBSCR Terriers, but, with only eight of them built, made rather less of a name for themselves. However, with four of the eight surviving into preservation, they have blossomed, and are now much more favourably regarded as highly capable little locomotives. Their greater water capacity and larger cabs give them a slight advantage over the considerably older Terriers.

An appeal to raise the funds for the overhaul was started towards the end of 2003. The locomotive was partially dismantled, but the overhaul was suspended whilst the workshops concentrated on larger locomotives. Then in September 2009 the loco entered the works and was lifted from its wheels, signifying the re-starting of its overhaul, with the aim of completing to overhaul for the 50th anniversary celebrations in August 2010. This was thwarted by the discovery of the need for additional boiler repairs, and after this additional work, the loco returned to service just in time to put in an appearance at the Branch Line weekend in March 2011, painted in a more elaborate version of “Bluebell Blue” than formerly, as seen above.

Following its 2019 annual boiler inspection, it has been withdrawn from service, and awaits both major boiler work and a major mechanical overhaul, having run 78,000 miles in Bluebell service.

Baxter at HK - Alan Bedford - 7 Aug 2010 Dorking Greystone Lime Company, No. 3 ‘Captain Baxter’
Wheels: 0-4-0T
Built: 1877, Fletcher Jennings
Last major overhaul completed: August 2010 – Details of overhaul
Last operational: 6 October 2018
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by the Bluebell Railway

Web page

Lewis Nodes has provided a video clip of Baxter working the Vintage Goods train in September 1997. The file is a 6MB Mpeg.

‘Baxter’ arrived at the Bluebell in 1960 after spending its working life at the Dorking Greystone Lime Works at Betchworth station. It was only in 1982 that it returned to traffic after a comprehensive overhaul.

‘Baxter’ runs a very low mileage each year, so, having received a major mechanical overhaul in the early 1980s and a boiler overhaul ten years later, following the expiry of its boiler certificate in July 2000 it was not expected to take much effort to give it another ten-year certificate. However various items have needed rather more work than expected, and the opportunity is also being taken to fit steam heating and vacuum braking equipment for the first time. This work (reported here) has been undertaken by the volunteer team who undertook the overhaul of “Fenchurch”, and “Captain Baxter” (as it had been named until 1947) returned to service at the 50th Anniversary Gala in August 2010.

C-class Shunting SECR Wainwright goods, No. 592
Class: C
Wheels: 0-6-0
Built: 1902
Numbers carried: 592, A592, 1592, 31592
Last major overhaul completed: 7 October 2007 – Details of overhaul
Last operational: 13 May 2017
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by The Bluebell Railway Trust

Web page

After the amalgamation of the SER and the LCDR in 1899 it fell to Harry Wainwright to put some order into the locomotive designs the new company inherited. The C-class was his standard goods design, and served the SECR, and in turn the SR and BR, well. The steam powered reverser on this locomotive was most successful, and this design was to be found on goods and shunting engines built by the SECR and the SR for more than 40 years afterwards.

Preserved initially at Ashford Works by the Wainwright ‘C’ Preservation Society, it moved to the Bluebell in 1970, and finally entered service in 1975 after work on its boiler and a badly damaged axle journal. Its 1994 overhaul at the hands of volunteers saw it returned to service with a spare overhauled tender which we had been fortunate enough to obtain. In 2006-7 we overhauled the spare boiler which we have for this locomotive, since the firebox of the existing boiler was deemed beyond repair. Mechanically the locomotive was in reasonable order, although the condition of the cylinders was expected to determine how long it ran before its next overhaul. It returned to service on 8th October 2007, and it was known to require a new cylinder block at a subsequent overhaul, but advances in cylinder lining techniques led to the cylinder block being removed for a repair in late 2012, which, with further work on the valves, enabled a much stronger locomotive to re-enter service. A replacement cylinder block will however now be fitted as part of its forthcoming overhaul.

The locomotive was generously gifted to The Bluebell Railway Trust by the Wainwright ‘C’ Preservation Society on 20 September 2014.

Birch Grove in January 2010 - Dave Phillips LBSCR Billinton Radial Tank, No. B473
Class: E4
Wheels: 0-6-2T
Built: 1898
Numbers carried: 473 ‘Birch Grove’, B473, 2473, s2473, 32473
Last major overhauls completed: 1998, January 2010 – Details of overhaul
Last operational: May 2016
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by the Bluebell Railway

Web page

The only surviving locomotive to a design by Robert Billinton, ‘Birch Grove’ is one of a family of locomotives known as Radial Tanks due to the radial axle beneath the cab. Mixed traffic locomotives, they were equally at home on local passenger workings as branch-line goods services. Although almost the oldest, the E4s were amongst the last of the Brighton Radials to survive.

Birch Grove in LBSC Livery at Horsted ‘Birch Grove’ itself was one of the first two Brighton locos to be repainted into Southern Railway livery, as B473, in February 1924. It was bought straight out of BR service in 1962 and served the Bluebell for a decade before being withdrawn for a protracted stop-go overhaul. It finally became operational again in 1998 thanks to a bequest which paid for the major boiler repairs required and a team of volunteers who undertook some of the easier boiler work and most of the remaining work, as is well recorded here.

Remarkably ‘Birch Grove’ retains her original boiler, number 891, fitted new in July 1898. It had been passed to various other Brighton tanks of classes D3, E3 and E4 before being refitted to Birch Grove in 1960.

It was repainted from LBSCR umber livery (right) into BR lined black in February 2005, for a limited period – see photos. With a boiler still in good condition, its next overhaul was started immediately following the expiry of its boiler certificate in May 2008, and after a major rebuild of its cylinders, which was the most significant item of work required, it re-entered service in January 2010, carrying 1920s Southern Railway olive green livery, running until May 2016. At its next overhaul it will require major replacement of copper plates forming the inner firebox.

1638 re-launched into service - Jon Bowers - 18 February 2005 SR U-class, No. 1638
Class: U
Wheels: 2-6-0
Built: 1931
Numbers carried: A638, 1638, 31638
Last major overhaul completed: February 2006 – Details of overhaul
Last operational: 4 July 2015
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by the Bluebell Railway
On long-term loan to the Maunsell Locomotive Society – Their web page

Bluebell web page

One of two U-class locomotives on the Bluebell Railway, both coming via Barry scrapyard, this one was privately purchased and donated to the Bluebell. It has been placed on long-term loan to the Maunsell Locomotive Society, who also own 1618, and was their main restoration project for over a decade. Having lost its tender while at Barry, a new one has been built, starting from the remains of a snowplough which in turn had been created using a Schools class locomotive tender as its base. The loco steamed for the first time in preservation in February 2006.

It was always expected that the locomotive would need major work after about seven years of use, and indeed over the winter of 2012/13 a partial boiler-lift and some re-staying was undertaken, followed by further copper welding on the firebox later in 2013. It was not expected to remain in service for the whole of the remaining period of its “ten-year” ticket, and after a very good nine-and-a-half years bearing the brunt of our front-line services, with several relatively minor faults and a hydraulic boiler test required if repairs were carried out, it was decided, rather than committing workshop time and money to gain a few months extra on its boiler certificate, that it was sensible to use those resources in expediting the overhaul of “Camelot”.

Stepney after repaint back to LBSCR colours - Martin Lawrence - 7 June 2015 LBSCR Stroudley Terrier, No. 55 ‘Stepney’
Class: A1X
Wheels: 0-6-0T
Built: 1875
Numbers carried: 55, 655, B655, 2655, 32655
Last major overhaul completed: May 2010 – Details of overhaul
Last operational: 29 March 2014
Current status: Static display, awaiting major overhaul
Owned by the Bluebell Railway

Web page

Stepney at Horsted Stroudley’s famous Terriers survived for decades after more modern designs had been scrapped, working on lightly laid branch lines. Here these diminutive engines were often the only engines light enough to cross some particular bridge. In later years ‘Stepney’ was particularly associated with the Hayling Island branch, until sold to the Bluebell Railway in May 1960 as our first locomotive.

Repainted into Stroudley’s famous “Improved Engine Green” gamboge livery (as seen on the right), it has been a favourite of many children, and some of those children are now introducing their own children to “Stepney the Bluebell Engine”. In spite of its fame, “Stepney” has spent considerable periods out of traffic in its 50 years on the Bluebell, but its popularity always causes it to bounce back to the top of the railway’s priorities. 55 Stepney and coach 6575 recreate 50 years earlier - Richard Clark - 17 May 2010

In the first few months of 2010 the minimum boiler work to get the loco back into steam for our 50th anniversary celebrations was done, and Stepney remained available for limited service until its main steam pipe failed in early 2014. It was repainted into the black (lined with red) livery it carried 55 years ago in the Bluebell Railway’s first season, but on withdrawal from service it was repainted again into its traditional Stroudley Golden Ochre. At its next major overhaul it will require new cylinders (the castings for which are already to hand), significant work on the frames, and major boiler work.

The Dukedog - Richard Salmon - 2 Nov 2003 GWR Earl/Dukedog No. 9017, ‘Earl of Berkeley’
Class: Earl (later 90XX)
Wheels: 4-4-0
Rebuilt: 1938
Numbers carried: 3217, 9017
Last major overhaul completed: 2003
Last operational: June 2011
Current status: Awaiting overhaul
Owned by the Bluebell Railway

Web page

Dukedog with Wealden Rambler - Derek Hayward - 27 March 2010 Nicknamed “Dukedogs” since they were an amalgamation a Bulldog and a Duke, the parts of this loco are thus actually older than the “building” date suggests. The 1938 rebuild of 3217 used the frames from “Bulldog” No. 3425 (built 1906) and the boiler and cab from “Duke” class No. 3282 (originally named ‘Chepstow Castle’ and built in 1899).

A few of the class carried the names of earls, but 3217 did not receive its allocated name until preservation days. At the time the earls in question indicated to the GWR that, if their names were to be used, they would prefer their names on something a little more prestigious, and so they were transferred to new Castle class locomotives.

This class of locos was widely used on the Cambrian lines. At the time this loco was saved for preservation the Bluebell was the only line where it could run, and it has been in Sussex ever since, apart from a few years spent at the Great Western Society, Didcot.

The engine was re-painted in BR black in April 2009, as seen in Derek Hayward’s photo on the right. It came out of service in early June 2011 with a number of boiler and mechanical faults.

SR Bulleid Pacific Blackmoor Vale - Mike Esau SR Bulleid Light Pacific, ‘Blackmoor Vale’
Class: West Country
Wheels: 4-6-2
Built: 1946
Numbers and names carried: 21C123, ‘Blackmoor Vale’, 34023, ‘Blackmore Vale’
Last major overhaul completed: 2000
Last operational: 25 May 2008
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by The Bulleid Society – Their web page

Bluebell web page

Bulleid’s Light Pacifics were revolutionary in many respects, and brought a great enhancement of available power to lightly laid West Country lines which hitherto had been unable to accept the more modern Southern Railway express locos. Many Bulleid Pacifics are preserved thanks to Barry scrapyard, but ‘Blackmoor Vale’ came to the Bluebell via initial preservation at Longmoor, having been one of the last Bulleid Pacifics running on BR. Unlike many of its classmates, it was not rebuilt, retaining Bulleid’s “air-smoothed” casing and oil-bath-enclosed valve gear.

Having operated for a decade following restoration in 1976, the locomotive returned to steam for a second time, following a comprehensive overhaul, being recommissioned on 19th August 2000. For its next overhaul a replacement firebox is required, which is now being constructed.

75027 on the Pines Express - Mike Esau BR Standard, No. 75027
Class: 4MT
Wheels: 4-6-0
Built: 1954
Last major overhaul completed: 1997
Last operational: end of February 2007
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by the Bluebell Railway

Web page

The Standard 4 tender engines were designed as a modern branch-line engine, capable of hauling both freight and passenger services on the country’s secondary routes. Some, with larger tenders, were allocated to the Southern Region; however No. 75027 is a “foreigner”, although it did work over the Somerset and Dorset when allocated to the WR.

On its withdrawal from service it was one of the very last steam locos operating on British Railways. It was bought from BR by Charlie Pyne, one of our members, and donated by him to the railway. The locomotive appeared to be far larger than was necessary on the Bluebell of the late 1960s, but it soon proved its worth though as we entered the seventies. A relatively modern loco, capable of hauling heavier trains up our 1-in-75 gradients, it was very much appreciated. It remains to this day the ideal locomotive for many of our trains, powerful yet economical, attractive and easy to prepare and maintain.

It has been repainted for static display in the locomotive shed, and is one of several larger locomotives which should be overhauled in the next few years.

Normandy shunting at Horsted - Richard Salmon LSWR Adams dock tank, No. 96 ‘Normandy’
Class: B4
Wheels: 0-4-0T
Built: 1893
Numbers carried: 96, E96, 96, 30096
Last major overhaul completed: 1996
Last operational: 6 July 2006
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by B4 Loco Group, part of The Bulleid Society – Their web page

Bluebell web page.

A deceptively powerful shunting locomotive, it spent most of its working days at Southampton Docks. After disposal by BR it was used, again at Southampton, shunting a private wharf, from where it was purchased by members of the Bulleid Society who later moved their stock to the Bluebell.

Remaining out of use for many years, only after it received an overhaul was it realised just how useful an engine it was. “Normandy” has been called “the reason we don’t need a diesel”, and has put in sterling service on our works trains for the construction of the northwards extension. When its ten-year boiler certificate expired in 1995 it was given a very rapid overhaul to put it straight back into service.

For years it was used most weeks for our Monday and Thursday shunts, the only regular steam shunting turn in the country. It is not suited to high speed, and was only rarely to be found on passenger trains.

With the end of its boiler certificate in July 2006, we must now wait and see whether the steam-shunt mantle passes to this loco or the North London Tank. To cover the interim until one of these locos is overhauled, 08 and 09 diesels have been used alongside other suitable steam locomotives.

North London Tank on Freshfield Bank - Mike Esau - 15 February 1990 North London Railway Goods Tank
Class: NLR Goods Engine
Wheels: 0-6-0T
Built: 1880
Numbers carried: NLR: 76, 116, LNWR: 2650, LMS: 7505, 27505, BR: 58850
Last major overhaul: 1984
Last operational: 1993
Owned by the Bluebell Railway
Current status: Static display (at Horsted Keynes), awaiting overhaul
Photo: Mike Esau – 15 February 1990

Web page

This powerful goods locomotive was built for shunting in the docks served by the North London Railway, and for the goods traffic which emanated from the docks to be carried on the NLR’s 14-mile main line –’ probably frequently venturing out onto other companies’ lines with exchange traffic. The NLR subsequently became part of the LNWR and, at the grouping in 1923, the LMS. Several locos from this class became celebrities thanks to their use on the LMS’s very steeply graded Cromford and High Peak line in Derbyshire.

When this, the last one of the class, was withdrawn from traffic in 1960 it was kept at Derby until coming to the Bluebell in 1962. Used by contractors for the demolition of the line from East Grinstead to Ardingly, it has since been used in the rebuilding of the same line, on the Bluebell’s northwards extension. Requiring very major boiler work before it can again be steamed, in the interim it was placed on loan to other locations, and so both relieve space at Sheffield Park and act as an ambassador for the Bluebell in foreign parts; it has now returned. It is hoped to be able to commence its overhaul in the near future.

92240 with the GNR Directors' Saloon - Richard Salmon BR Standard, No. 92240
Class: 9F
Wheels: 2-10-0
Built: 1958
Last major overhaul: 1990
Last operational: November 2002
Owned by the Bluebell Railway
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul

Web page

The renowned 9Fs were the final steam design of British Railways, and a total of 251 of this most successful heavy-freight design were built. 92240 was one of the last steam locomotives constructed at Crewe. In the rush to abolish steam they were scrapped decades before their originally planned withdrawal dates. 92240 was the very first of the ex-Barry Scrapyard 9Fs to be restored to traffic, and we also built a replacement body for the tender in our own workshops – something rather more common now than it was then.

A few years after its initial return to traffic a number of boiler stays were found to need replacement, and the opportunity was taken to re-certificate the boiler for a new ten-year period at that time. In spite of its size and power, it is an economical locomotive to run, and is much better suited to our 25mph speed limit than an express locomotive. It was withdrawn from service before the end of its boiler certificate due to the deteriorating condition of its tubes, with work also likely to be required on the firebox and front tubeplate.

Awake the Giant AppealIf you would like the see 92240 return to steam
please support the “Awake the Giant” Appeal

LSWR Adams Radial Tank - Mike Esau LSWR Adams Radial Tank No. 30583
Class: 415
Wheels: 4-4-2T
Built: 1885
Numbers carried: 488, 0488, EKR 5, 3488, 30583
Last major overhaul: 1985
Last operational: 1990
Owned by the Bluebell Railway
Current status: Static display, awaiting major overhaul

Web page.

Designed for the LSWR’s inner suburban network, these locomotives were displaced by electrification, and the entire class was scrapped by 1927 with the exception of two which were retained to operate the Lyme Regis branch, where sharp curvature made the use of anything other than this class of loco impossible. Many other classes were tried, but they either couldn’t cope with the heavily loaded holiday trains, or were too inflexible for the many curves. This particular loco though had been sold to the military during World War I, and in 1919 was sold on to the privately run East Kent Railway. In 1946 it was bought by the Southern and overhauled to provide relief for the other two Lyme Regis engines, and the three operated the branch until 1960.

No. 488 was chosen by the Bluebell since, out of the three, it was closest to original condition at the time of withdrawal, having an original Adams boiler. Following several spells in traffic over the next 30 years on the Bluebell it is the boiler which is now preventing this fine Victorian engine from steaming. It will probably require a complete new boiler barrel before it can work again.

In 2019 it was repainted into the last livery it carried when running on the Lyme Regis Branch, as No. 30583 to match the two visiting ex-LSWR locomotives which were visiting for our Branch Line Weekend that year.

U-class in 1992 SR Maunsell U-class, No. 1618
Class: U
Wheels: 2-6-0
Built: 1928 at Brighton
Numbers carried: A618, 1618, 31618
Arrived on Bluebell: 17 May 1977
Last major overhaul: 1987
Last operational: 1994
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by the Maunsell Locomotive Society – Their web page

Bluebell web page

The Sevenoaks accident of 1927 resulted in the rebuilding of the K-Class tank locomotives, known as the Rivers, as U-class tender engines, in which form they were much more successful, being very useful mixed traffic locomotives. 1618 was part of a batch which were to have been built as Rivers but the order was changed, and they came out as U-class locos. On withdrawal from Guildford in 1964 it went to Barry Scrapyard in South Wales, and was the second of the many locomotives to leave the yard for preservation.

Restored to working order, it steamed initially at the Kent & East Sussex Railway. However it was too heavy to be used on that line and so its owners relocated it to the Bluebell in 1977, and it has subsequently had two spells of activity. The U-class is an ideal locomotive for the size of trains we run on the Bluebell, and its sister locomotive, No. 1638, has been restored to working order, again by the Maunsell Locomotive Society, entering service for the first time in 42 years in 2006.

Because this locomotive’s tender was loaned to the Mid Hants Railway for a year, for use with another U-class which was painted in BR lined black livery, No. 1618 was repainted in the same scheme, since its existing paint was getting rather tired, and so this is how it is currently displayed.

80064 at work on the Bluebell - Mike Esau BR Standard Tank No. 80064
Class: 4MT
Designer: R.A. Riddles
Wheels: 2-6-4T
Built: 1953
Last overhaul: 1981
Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul
Owned by the 80064 Locomotive Fund

Web page

The last in a long line of large tank locomotives to have been built at Brighton Works, the Standard 4 tanks were closely associated with the last years of the Bluebell Line under British Railways. This locomotive worked initially from Watford, and then from 1959 on the Southern Region, before transfer to the Western Region along with the lines it worked. It was one of over 200 locos sent to Barry scrapyard that were subsequently rescued for preservation, in this case by a group based on the Dart Valley Railway where it was restored to working order in 1981. In 1984 its owners decided to transfer it to the Bluebell, and it worked out the remainder of its boiler certificate in fine style in Sussex. Since then it has been back to Devon and has now returned again to the Bluebell.

80100 after arrival at SP - Geoff Pethick BR Standard Tank No. 80100
Class: 4MT
Designer: R.A. Riddles
Wheels: 2-6-4T
Built: 1955 at Brighton Works
Arrived on Bluebell Railway: October 1978
Owned by the Bluebell Railway
Current status: Ex-Barry Scrapyard condition, stored under tarpaulin (at Horsted Keynes).

Web page

One of three Standard 4 Tanks on the Bluebell, this particular locomotive was not a Southern-based engine in its BR days, working from Tilbury and later Shrewsbury until withdrawn for scrapping. As with the others it survived at Barry Scrapyard long enough to be saved for preservation, arriving at the Bluebell in 1978.

It is retained because it is the only one of the three to belong to the railway, and the strong links between the class and the line. However it is relegated to a long-term restoration objective, thanks to the presence on the line of restored 80064 and 80151.

Sharpthorn with Baxter in 1982 - Mike Esau Contractor’s Locomotive ‘Sharpthorn’
Wheels: 0-6-0ST
Built: 1877 by Manning Wardle
Maker’s class: “K”
Maker’s Number: 641
Last operational: 1958
Current status: Static Exhibit at Horsted Keynes
Owned by the Bluebell Railway

Web page

This typical Victorian contractors’ loco is instantly recognisable as a Manning Wardle product. What makes this one special was that it was owned by Joseph Firbank, the contractor who built the Lewes and East Grinstead Railway, of which the Bluebell is a part. Delivered to West Hoathly (just north of our tunnel) it was employed throughout the construction of the line, taking its name (albeit mis-spelt) from the neighbouring village of Sharpthorne. From 1888 until 1982 it was the property of Samuel Williams & Sons and used to shunt the company’s coal dock at Dagenham until withdrawn from service in 1958. It was subsequently placed on loan to Bressingham Steam Museum, and moved to the Bluebell in 1981 for the line’s centenary celebrations in 1982, during which it took part in a locomotive cavalcade at Horsted Keynes.

The above photograph by Mike Esau shows it during this event. Since then it has remained at the Bluebell, having been purchased by the Bluebell from the receivers after Samuel Williams went out of business. Being considerably smaller than ‘Baxter’, it is not a large enough locomotive to haul passengers (although the Selsey Tramway used one of this class for their trains of three 4-wheelers, albeit without the steep gradients of the Bluebell line). As such it can be given no priority in our works schedule for overhaul. However a volunteer group on the railway have it in mind as a project for the future, several other locomotives having higher priority for their efforts as well! In the meantime it remains on static display, now at Horsted Keynes.

Note: Boiler Certificates. Steam locomotive boilers are certificated by the Insurance Company’s inspector for up to a ten-year term. At the end of this period the locos must usually be taken out of service for a boiler overhaul including a complete re-tube, and it is also usual at this time to undertake a full mechanical overhaul. Therefore at any one time we are only able to maintain a proportion of our fleet in working order, and the others must wait their turn in the queue for workshop attention. Even if we had the facilities to maintain a greater number of engines in working order, the costs of this could not be afforded by our income, and so we maintain sufficient engines in working order at any one time for our requirements, given also that some of our working fleet may require workshop attention in addition to their routine boiler washouts and regular mechanical and boiler checks.

The locomotives listed on this page are generally accessible to the visitor in SteamWorks! at Sheffield Park, although a few may, at times, be stored away from areas with public access.

  1. Operational Locomotives
  2. Locomotives under overhaul
  3. Locomotives on static display
  4. Multiple Units
  5. Locomotives formerly based on the Bluebell

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Last updated 9 May 2017 by Jon Elphick, and 23 March 2023 by Richard Salmon,