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'First of the Few' autographed print to help 34070 Manston return to traffic
Knowing that we would be meeting several Battle of Britain aircrew at the reception following 'Battle of Britain' class Pacific 34072 257 Squadron's recommissioning at Folkestone Central on the 8th September 1990, we brought a print of Robert Taylor's brilliant portrayal of a 257 Squadron Hurricane in combat over the Thames Estuary in the hope that some of the participants would sign it. So, armed with a soft lead pencil as pencil signatures never fade and asking them to endorse their Squadron next to their signatures for easier identification, we had the privilege of talking to all 22 aircrew present, some of whom had travelled a considerable distance to attend the event and all of whom were in the Battle of Britain Fighter Association. Even in 1990 the youngest were in their seventies and it occurred to Willie Bath and myself that if we could arrange to meet other Battle of Britain aircrew armed with similar prints, and books, there would be great potential to raise money both for ourselves and the Fighter Association.
After discussion with Squadron Leader Pat Hancock, Chairman of the Association we soon had the list of approximately 500 members worldwide and for the following two years, Willie, mainly, and myself travelled the UK to meet nearly 400 veterans who all, without exception were welcoming and modest about their achievements. In addition some of the prints were taken to Canada and Australasia by our friend Lt Cdr Geoff Rayner who had previously discovered and dug up two 257 Squadron Hurricanes from their final resting places in Essex. In the first three months of 257 Squadron's return to traffic we raised £10,000 for the Fighter Association with the help of the Bluebell and Swanage Railways, both of whom hosted events on our behalf.
The print we are offering for sale to the highest bidder (there is a reserve price) is signed by no less than 71 aircrew. 17 of the Battle of Britain Squadrons chosen by the Southern to have locomotives named after them are represented on the print. Remarkably 30 of the signatories were shot down, some being taken as POWs, and several more had very close scrapes running out of fuel and the like. As Pat Hancock, the then Chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, remarked to us, when we took him and some fellow pilots out to dinner at Swanage, that being a pilot was a great life as you wanted for nothing, as long as you weren't shot down!
The print is signed by 71 Battle of Britain aircrew. Southern Locomotives owns three Battle of Britain Class locos, 34053 Sir Keith Park,
34070 Manston and 34072 257 Squadron.
To bring some of the signatures to life, Kenneth MacKenzie of 501 Squadron famously ran out of ammunition off Folkestone chasing an ME109 and proceeded to use his wing tip to down his opponent. His luck finally ran out when he was shot down and taken to the famous Stalag Luft lll at Sagan, site of the Great Escape. Denys Gillam, the subject of the painting when he made the fastest kill in the Battle was shot down over Maidstone and then again over Dunkirk. Later in the war he led a flight of six Typhoons on a precision attack of a single building in Dordrecht where a meeting of high ranking Germans was taking place, dropping their bombs from just 20 feet.
Edward Deansley was shot down twice in a short space of time off Portland and then Swanage being rescued both times by British boats - Terence Kane was not so lucky being spotted by a German E Boat and spent the rest of the war as a POW as did five of the other signatories. Inevitably one of these aircrew ended up as a 'Guinea Pig' in the East Grinstead burns unit - John Squire who crash landed at Capel-le-Ferne but he was soon back in the cockpit flying with 72, 603 and 141 Squadrons. Not content with this he became the first pilot just after the war to eject at supersonic speed when he became a test pilot - Mach 1.7 at 40000 feet. Robert Norfolk had a couple of bad days in the office by firstly having his tail shot away over Dungeness only to be shot down over Herne Bay the following day. Frank Usmar's parents watched him being shot down and bale out with his clothes on fire over West Malling, not realising that it was their son. They all had a story to tell.
All of these aircrew lived to tell their stories of course. Our patron for many years, Air Commodore Peter Brothers of 32 and 257 Squadron, like all his colleagues was totally dismissive of their bravery and it can only be left to the imagination of what it must have been like to have served at that time.
Please contact the undersigned should you wish to bid for the print and help 34070 Manston return to steam.
Simon Troy, Southern Locomotives Ltd.
16 Arcadia Road, Istead Rise, Gravesend, Kent, DA13 9EH
Tel: 01474 833263 Mob: 07887 704799
34070 has been at Tyseley since December 2017 for repairs and bottom end overhaul. That work is nearly complete but
we still need a significant sum for the boiler work. With your help we can return the loco to service in 2021.
From the Chairman
I had been expecting to write that after a difficult winter things were starting to look up. Such optimism was misplaced as we went through March with each day bringing one wave of bad news after another, all as a result of Covid-19. Right now most of our work is at a standstill, our primary business partner - Swanage Railway - is at a standstill, and it looks like there will be little progress for several months.
In this month's news we've included an update on each of our locos, with notably good progress on Eddystone, and completion of the repairs to Sir Keith Park. Also, news that we expect to complete an agreement to take custody of 35025 Brocklebank Line which has been stored at Sellindge for some years. With the limited funds available we hope to continue work on Norman's overhaul off-site.
So, with two Bulleids and a Standard Tank in operation, another Bulleid approximately three months from completion and a further one six to nine months away, we are in a strong position to hit the ground running when life starts getting back to normal. However, it's absolutely essential that we raise as much capital in the meantime to enable us to continue the boiler overhaul on the North Norfolk Railway, and ensure we have sufficient funds for Manston at Tyseley.
This is because we cannot be assured that the Swanage Railway will have the resources to immediately revert to the negotiated hire fees when the Railway re-opens, so some allowances may need to be made and we will therefore have to make up any shortfalls.
We are within reach of having Sir Keith Park, 257 Squadron, Eddystone and Manston all in operation together in 2021, as well as our Austerity, which bodes well for Sidmouth and maybe even Brocklebank Line at some point! If you can help us achieve this objective please email me at email@example.com
Best wishes, Simon Troy
Ron Bennett 1927 - 2020
You will probably be aware that Ron Bennett, SLL's long-serving volunteer, passed away at home on Saturday 22nd February, at the age of 93. Ron had worked at Herston works for around 25 years. For many years he'd been 'Lead Painter' and woe betide anyone who picked up a paint brush without his say-so. His other mission-critical role was as chief tea maker, and custodian of the tea and biscuit money. Ron always spoke calmly, and jokes at his expense were water off a duck's back. He was always ready to engage in conversation, generally along the lines of the Management not being capable of running a bath!
For many years he had worked as a volunteer for three days per week, dropping down to two days after turning 90. His days of climbing ladders were also behind him, though he retained general fitness and a sharp brain. His last visit to Herston was on Thursday 20th, two days before his death. Ron had a large family and a wide circle of friends. He was known to all at Swanage Railway, and often took a trip on the footplate. He was a Speedway fan, a regular follower of Poole Pirates, and his other passion was the Rock & Roll show band That'll be the Day, and he attended their performances along the south coast. Their singer, Gary Anderson, led us in "Pretty Woman" at his funeral. Ron will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
Paul Quill recently retired after many years with us as both a machinist and a welder. He was highly skilled and will be very difficult to replace. Among his tasks was the fabrication of three ash pans for our locos and his role in the construction of our Bulleid tenders.
Paul was the token Yorkshireman on the SLL payroll, ticking several diversity boxes and enhancing the tone of discussions in the mess.
Never one to appear on camera the quality of his work speaks for him. The ash pan he built in 2018 for Eddystone not only looks good, but fitted perfectly when offered up to the boiler. Thank you
Paul, and best wishes for the future.
35025 Brocklebank Line
Some months ago we were approached by the 35025 Brocklebank Line Association to become custodians of the Merchant Navy they had rescued from Barry scrap yard. The loco had been stored at Sellindge for the last 12 years with no prospect of further restoration. Our primary role will be to secure the storage of the loco and components and we can make no promises to its future restoration.
35025 Brocklebank Line and another Merchant Navy leaving Waterloo for the short trip to Nine Elms to be serviced
and turned before their next trips to the south west. Photo: A very young Nick Thompson.
Even without today's lock-down we have a massive existing workload, with overhauls of Eddystone and Manston to complete, upcoming overhauls of Sir Keith Park and 80104, and the restoration of Sidmouth to which our supporters have made significant contributions. We are open to approaches from anyone with the wherewithall to be part of this venture.
Currently Eddystone looks nearly complete with about three months work left. Graham Froud has put together the list of jobs to be done as soon as the Works reopens and it reflects just how much work goes into overhauling a locomotive bearing in mind that four years hard labour has already been done.
Eddystone looks pretty much complete, though there's still a fair list of jobs to be done. Note the staging across the boiler which enables
staff wear a harness and be clipped on to ensure safety while working on the cladding, etc.
Outstanding items include: Overhaul blower valve or fit new valve, fit train pipe from running board to the ejector, install injector linkage, finish whistle cable tube and bulkhead fitting, fit generator exhaust and steam brake exhaust and align with brackets, fit smoke deflectors, make/repair spark arrester, fit fire hole door and finish door liner plates, etc. All 'do-able' as soon as our team can get to work. Then, of course, the loco needs to be moved to the railway, weighed, and commissioned.
Our February 'travelling' volunteers session was well attended. Lifting all the grate frame and the 'fingers' through the firebox door is arduous, then
it must all be assembled. Step forward Mary Bosworth who must be on a shortlist of one for lady-Bulleid-grate-builders.
Eddystone's previous ticket expired in August 2014, almost six years ago. We're tantalisingly close to completing the overhaul, having more or less everything needed, and just waiting for the chance to do the job.
Mr Bulleid thoughtfully located both the injectors on the fireman's side of the cab, though this does result in some pretty fancy pipe runs. The
copper pipes were reinstalled by volunteers on 12/13th March. Photo: Dave Ensor
34053 Sir Keith Park
34053 spent several months under contract at Tyseley in 2019 when its axle boxes and bearings were overhauled. When it resumed work at Swanage in October it became apparent that one or more bearings were running warmer that would be expected, and there was still a noticable "knock". After some weeks of 'running in' the issue had not gone away, so we agreed with Tyseley for the loco to be examined and adjustments or repairs made if required.
So it was back to the wheeldrop at Tyseley for SKP in February. The work was undertaken by Tyseley and SLL staff,
with some help from our volunteers to clean up and number the brake gear, spring hangers, etc.
The only way to examine the bearings is to drop the wheels out. It transpired that wear of the leading set of driving wheels was uneven, and one wheel had worn more than the other five. This meant that all three wheels sets needed a trip to the lathe to be reprofiled. This work was completed early in March but the subsequent lock-down has meant that the loco remains at Tyseley.
The spring brackets of tender 002 need to be replaced. New castings are being machined on our Huron milling machine.
Last yearSir Keith Park was running with Tender 001 which hitherto ran with Manston. SKP's own tender (002) is at Tyseley awaiting repairs to the brackets which support the springs. Several of these were found to be cracked, and they are all being replaced at Tyseley. The castings have been made and they are being machined at Herston. They will be sent to Tyseley where they'll be re-rivetted to the frames. When all this work is complete Sir Keith Park will be coupled to its own tender (002) again.
34072 257 Squadron
257 Squadron was used over the Christmas period, alongside 80104. Swanage Railway operated limited public services early in the year as major trackwork was being undertaken. Swanage Railway announced that the loco will visit the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway for the Cotswold Festival of Steam in May, though sadly this event has been a lock-down victim.
257 Squadron was in service over the Christmas period and on some dates in January, February and March. Photo: Chris Worby
80104 is entering its last year in service, and we're pleased to say that in March it passed its cold and hot boiler tests, and should be good for the coming year. Some boiler work will certainly be required when the loco comes out of service, though the bottom end has received a lot of repair and maintenance over the last few years, and is in good shape. Swanage Railway will be looking for a rapid turnaround as the loco is pivotal to its passenger services. Given our other commitments that is not going to be easy, and doubtless we will be appealing for financial support when we know what's involved.
Swanage Railway ran services over the weekend of 14/15th March. 80104 was in steam and bore a wreath to mark the passing of Ron Bennett, SLL's
long serving volunteer, at the age of 93. Photo: Chris Hardy
Attention at Tyseley shifted from Manston back to Sir Keith Park, and 34070 is now stored outside the workshop. Manston has recently had full NDT testing and a boiler examination, both of which were fine giving the green light for a retube. All flues and tubes have been delivered but work is now suspended. The wheels were due to be dropped for axlebox examination which would also reveal any other jobs which needed doing, and in the meantime all the brake rigging has been rebushed at Herston.
34070 is back outside the Tyseley workshop while 34053 is inside receiving attention. With no casing or front bogie Manston looks a bit lonely.
We can't say when work will recommence but with a good bill of health as far as the boiler is concerned, and knowledge that apart from the accident damage, the bottom end of Manston is in exceptionally good condition after 10 years in service, it will be a relatively straight-forward job to get 34070 back into traffic. We plan that Manston will make a short stay in Herston after the work at Tyseley has been completed. This will be for a number of minor tasks to be completed before the loco is recommissioned, though at present we can't put a date on any of this.
Looking like the contents an IKEA flat-pack Manston's casing waits in the yard at Tyseley. I hope someone knows where they left the instructions!
After its ticket expired Norman moved from the Yorkshire Dales Railway to a private site in Bolton where, thanks to sponsorship from a generous supporter, its restoration has proceeded well. When Norman was restored first time round our team at Sellindge had to work in a tent with limited resources and finance, but they did a splendid job in producing a locomotive which worked successfully for many years.
Duncan drilling out roof stays of Norman's boiler. The Asquith drill is portable (if you have a fair size crane) so you can bring the machine
to the job, and set the angle to drill down into the stay.
This time round we have had to renew much of the locomotive including extensive (and expensive) repairs to the cylinder block. Currently newly manufactured horns are being fitted into the frames. The cylinder block has received heavy repairs to ensure that it's trouble free for 10 years and this will also be reinstated in the near future. The boiler has already had extensive work with the removal of wasted side plates, throat and backhead, crown stays, and longitudinal stays. The life expired foundation ring will be replaced. Other jobs including fitting of the newly drilled and reamed brake hangers to the frames are now complete.
Andy Crooks spent time working on Norman. After the roof stays had been drilled he 'shelled out' the holes with a gas cutter.
When complete Norman will be finished in WD 'Longmoor' blue livery and numbered 75050 as it operated post-war after it lost its initial khaki livery. It's intended to enter service for the 2021 season on the Spa Valley Railway where it will be shedded in the original Tunbridge Wells West MPD, though this all depends on future restrictions on movement and our ability to raise funds to finish the task.
It's always good when a photo of one of SLL's locos comes to light, particular if it's a good shot and in colour. So 10/10 when Terence Dorrity posted a photo of 34092 and 34010 at Yeovil Town MPD. In this case City of Wells is the main subject, with Sidmouth to the right, and a Maunsell mogul in the background. The photo features in a newly published book by Terence, "Way Down South: Southern Steam in the Sixties", published by Irwell Press, ISBN: 9781911262183.
Photo: Terence Dorrity
The photo was taken on Wednesday 8th April 1964 and, while Yeovil Town's locos were mainly used on local services, there were several diagrams which brought Light Pacifics into the Town station and depot during the day. The 1964 Engine Workings book for the SW Division of the Southern Region shows four weekday diagrams for Bulleids:
The first (23) is the loco from the 07:20 passenger service from Waterloo to Salisbury, which after a wait of two hours continues to Yeovil Junction then, after turning on the turntable (which is still in use for steam tours) is on-shed at Town from 14:23 to 17:10.
The second (551) is a working from Exmouth Junction which arrives at 13:05 and leaves at 14:14 light engine to Yeovil Junction where it was turned and then hauls the 14:55 passenger service to Salisbury.
The third (467) is on a freight service from Salisbury which, after arriving at 09:28 and spending time shunting coaches and freight, goes on shed from 11:20 to 13:55, returning to Salisbury with a freight from Yeovil Junction at 14:00.
The fourth diagram (473) has the Bulleid arriving at Yeovil Junction with the 05:00 Mail Train from Salisbury then moving to Town and Loco from 08:50 until 11:32 before returning to Yeovil Junction to take the 12:08 passenger service to Exeter.
As such there are two periods when a brace of Bulleids are at the Town MPD together, namely 467 and 473 from 11:20-11:32 and 467 and 551 from 13:05-13:55. We may never know which of these is depicted here but it was a daily occurrence at the depot which was itself home to smaller locomotives such as Southern Moguls and GWR Prairie Tanks.
Yeovil Town Shed had been Southern Region 72C but was recoded as 83E when transferred to the Western Region in September 1963. The shed finally closed in June 1965 and, along with the adjacent station, is now the site of a cinema and leisure centre.
More happily both Bulleids in the photo still survive. City of Wells was restored at the KWVR and more recently was sold to the East Lancashire Railway while Sidmouth is moving up the restoration queue with SLL.
Update: Terry Dorrity has contacted us to say that his records indicate that he took the photo of 34092 and 34010 at 15:20. This does not match with the periods when the diagrams shown above indicate that two Bulleids would be on-shed. 34010 appears to be raising steam, with a driver on the footplate, while there's no sign of life on 34092; maybe it had failed. Terry also mentions that 4591 and 5563 were on shed and the now preserved 6435 was working the auto train to Yeovil Junction.
Fast forward 56 years and work on Sidmouth's restoration continues, mainly in the hands of volunteer Phil Casey. This
simple part is a bracket that supports the speedo mechanism. Another small step.....
Smokeboxes R Us
When Eddystone was taken out of service and its boiler removed for overhaul, care was taken to separate the smokebox without damage so that it could be reused. It subsequently became evident that corrosive gasses had thinned the wall thickness in some areas, and we decided to use a new steel tube while re-using all the fittings. The tube itself is not a major cost though re-cutting all the holes and replacing all the fittings involves time and cost.
With the new smokebox we have made a number of changes to extend its life and also to simplify routine servicing, i.e. removal of ash, etc, on a daily basis while the loco is in service. Additional sacrificial plates have been fitted and the floor of the smokebox has been modified. The three photos below show the different arrangements of Sir Keith Park, 257 Squadron and Eddystone.
Sir Keith Park's smokebox shows the conventional steam pipes and blast pipe fitted, awaiting the
petticoat and spark arrestor. In front of the blast pipe a steel plate was bolted into place, and this was covered with cement when commissioned. The
sacrificial plates are curved and extend around one third of the height of the smokebox. On a rebuilt such as 34053 the inside piston valve is offset from the cylinder,
to the left in this photo, though out of sight below the smokebox.
Original Bulleids such as 34072 have an approximately octagonal smokebox. The area in front of the blast pipe has a raised
cover over the inside piston valve which was above the cylinder. Note the two smaller steam pipes feeding each end of the inside cylinder. 34072 now has conventional
steam pipes; prior to its overhaul completed in 2018, it used original corrugated pipes. The flat sacrificial plates run to the mid-height of the boiler.
34028 shows the additional sacrificial plates which are flat and extend to the mid-point of the smokebox. The floor in
front of the blast pipe is a bolted plate, sealed underneath, to be air-tight and permit more access to the inside cylinder and valve if required. It's not
intended to have a concrete layer.
The question is often asked "are boilers interchangeable between originals and rebuilts?", to which the answer is, "Yes, but the superheater headers are not, neither are the steam pipes, and obviously the smokeboxes are quite different."
Bulleid Light Pacifics were originally fitted with corrugated steam pipes. These were presumably intended to be more tolerant of
stresses under heat and pressure. Over the years most were replaced by plain pipes as seen above. 34072 kept its original steam pipes into preservation and ran
with them till taken out of service in 2001. These were found to be beyond further use during the overhaul 2013 - 2018, and were scrapped. Do any preserved Bulleids still
use the original pattern?