The double chimney ‘Jubilee’
Steam Railway catches up with the overhaul of unique double-chimney ‘Jubilee’ no. 45596, which is to return to the main line next year - five decades after it was saved for preservation.
Nose-to-tail on the same road inside Tyseley Locomotive Works are two named, doublechimney, express passenger 4-6-0s undergoing overhaul. Both became celebrities towards the end of their working lives; both their double blastpipes represent a last throw of the dice for steam on their respective regions; and both are preservation pioneers, being among the few locomotives chosen by BR to haul the series of trial ‘Return to Steam’ specials in 1972. Next year, both will be back on the main line, to remember significant anniversaries in their post-BR history. One is Tyseley’s own ‘Castle’ No. 7029 Clun Castle, which in 1967 had already been a preserved locomotive for over a year, but was enjoying a final fling of railtours before the infamous steam ban took effect. The other is the Bahamas Locomotive Society’s eponymous Stanier ‘Jubilee’ No. 45596, whose return to steam in 2017 will mark 50 years since it was saved for preservation.
For both engines, it’s the most extensive - and expensive - overhaul they’ve ever received, with that of Clun Castle expected to be near the £1 million mark by the time it is complete, and Bahamas not far behind at almost £¾m. Yet despite all the parallels between them, there are some contrasts as well, according to Tyseley CME Bob Meanley: “By the time the ‘Jubilees’ were withdrawn, the London Midland Region had had its money’s worth out of them just like the ‘Scots’ that they flogged on the West Coast Main Line and then sent to Annesley. “Kolhapur was chosen because it had the best firebox and tyres, while Alberta’s tyres were quite weary - but they’d all been worked pretty hard, and the LMR wasn’t doing the sort of repairs that Swindon did towards the end of steam, like new fireboxes. “Clun Castle’s last BR overhaul was in July 1962, yet we found that the clearances on four of the axlebox horn guides were still within tolerance.” The much-loved Alberta was condemned to be cut up because fitting new tyres to a locomotive was considered an impossible task in those early preservation years but today, it’s a routine part of many overhauls, albeit not a cheap one. Courtesy of the South Devon Railway, Bahamas has received a full new set on the driving and bogie wheels, which were then reprofiled at Tyseley. The existing tender tyres were also reprofiled there, although one tender axle was subsequently sent to Ian Riley for
You can guarantee that the throatplate has never been disturbed BOB MEANLEY, TYSELEY CME
attention as one of the Gibson rings (which secures the tyre) was found to be corroded. A new tyre has been fitted as a result. The tender itself remains at the BLS’ Ingrow West base on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, where a new tank has been delivered and the group’s volunteers are overhauling the chassis. The latest progress has been the refitting of the overhauled brake valve, and once the tender has been reassembled it will go to Tyseley to be reunited with the locomotive.
Rebuild or reboiler?
With the locomotive’s frames back on the wheels, the new set of pistons in place, and the valves ready to set, the key focus now is the boiler - which has also received the heaviest overhaul since the early 1960s. As well as a new front barrel ring and front tubeplate, patch repairs to the bottom of the second barrel ring and around the whistle mounting, and a complete new set of firebox crown stays, Tyseley has formed replacement platework for the outer firebox back and throatplates - the latter almost a pioneering repair for a ‘Jubilee’ boiler. “You can guarantee that the throatplate has never been disturbed,” says Bob. “The only ‘5XP’ ever to have its firebox separated from the boiler barrel was No. 5694 Bellerophon, before the war, when it threw a connecting rod through the barrel.” So this is work of a magnitude that was almost never considered in steam days, let alone by early preservationists - and even now that the movement has the capability to do it, Bob reckons that it might not be long before it becomes more economical to simply replace tired boilers, just as BR would have done: “Bahamas was at
the tipping point where it would almost have been cheaper to build new - once you factor in all the costs and time involved in taking it apart.”
A date with Ais Gill
His point is underlined by the fact that the ‘Jubilee’s’ last overhaul, using volunteer labour, was done for a remarkably cheap £15,000 - mere peanuts when set against the total project cost of £906,000 this time round. It’s been covered by a grant of £706,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund plus £130,000 from BLS reserves, which includes a significant sum from the ‘Steam’s Last Blast’ appeal, launched in Steam Railway in January 2011 (SR384). Most of the money is for the locomotive, with the remainder for the Learning Coach, a new educational facility on the KWVR (see pages 52-57). Says BLS press spokesman John Hillier: “We’re in the very fortunate position of being one of the few groups that has the money in place for the overhaul.” But that’s not to say that donations to ‘Steam’s Last Blast’ (see panel) aren’t still welcome, he adds: “The sad thing is that when you get a Lottery grant, people stop giving - but we’ve bought a new support coach [BR Mk 2 Brake First Corridor No. 14060] and the grant doesn’t cover this, or its overhaul to main line condition”. The reward will be the return of this much-missed stalwart to the main line, with the overhaul on target for completion by the middle of next year: “The plan is to run it in from Tyseley for a spell, and then it will gradually work its way back north to the KWVR - and then the Settle & Carlisle beckons!” Saturday October 14 2017 will be 45 years to the day since Bahamas (then in LMS red livery) hauled its very first trains after preservation - and with 2017 also marking 50 years since the swansong of the ‘Jubilees’ in BR service, over the Northern Fells, there couldn’t be a better tribute.
No. 45596 was last seen in one piece during the Bahamas Locomotive Society’s AGM at Ingrow on May 18 2013.
No. 45596’s boiler being stripped for repairs at Tyseley on January 29 2015, with the front barrel ring and outer firebox doorplate removed for replacement. Bahamas behind Clun Castle inside the workshop at Tyseley.
The new doorplate being hammered into shape at Tyseley on June 18 2015.