Copyright (C) Owen Chapman
October 7th, 2017
A loco with a long history. Built by the LSWR for commuter service in the London area, it passed in the ownership of the Government during the Great War, being sold to the East Kent Railway in 1919. The EKR was one of Colonel Holman F Stephens’ collection of light railways which relied heavily on second hand locos like this one.
The rest of the locos passed to the Southern Railway in 1923, and all were scrapped in 1927 apart from two which were retained to work the rural Lyme Regis branch line in Dorset. The loco’s flexible wheelbase made them the only suitable type to work round the sharp curves of the Lyme Regis branch. No 488 was bought by the Southern in 1946 and re-united with its former class mates. Three locos meant that two would always be available for traffic.
In 1948 the Southern Railway became part of the nationalised British Railways and the trio continued to work the Lyme Regis branch until they were replaced by LMS designed class 2 2-6-2T locos in 1960. After withdrawal, the loco was preserved for the Bluebell Railway.
This beautiful Victorian tank engine is a most remarkable survivor, you could almost say it has had a charmed life, but it does need a new boiler before it can work again. Until that day comes it is on display to show what elegant machinery was used on commuter trains in the 19th Century. Far more impressive than the electric units that replaced it.
— Steve Frost