JANUARY ‘HOMECOMING’ FOR SIR KEITH PARK
‘Battle of Britain’ No. 34053 will be back on the Southern in the New Year.
Rebuilt ‘Battle of Britain’ No. 34053 Sir Keith Park is leaving its long-term home of the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) to take up permanent residence at the Swanage Railway in January. The news came just days after air-smoothed classmate No. 34072 257 Squadron left Herston Works on the ‘Purbeck Line’ on August 21 for final delivery to Norden, ahead of its long-awaited return to traffic following overhaul (see below). Simon Troy, chairman of Southern Locomotives Ltd (SSL), which owns ‘Sir Keith’, said: “We had been advised that its use would almost certainly diminish over the next five years as more locomotives entered traffic, and we were concerned that the SVR could give no guarantee regarding its ‘ten-yearly’ overhaul in 2022.” It will be the first time the ‘BB’ has been based at Swanage since it was restored there in 2012, having been an SVR resident for the last five years. The locomotive hauled its first revenue-earning trains on the ten-mile branch earlier this year at the railway’s ‘Strictly Bulleid’ gala on March 31-April 2. The Swanage Railway will soon be home to four ‘Light Pacifics’, as in addition to Nos. 34053 and 34072, ‘West Country’ No. 34028 Eddystone and ‘BB’ No. 34070 Manston will be back in traffic within a couple of years. The SLL-owned quartet means the ‘Purbeck Line’ will field more working Bulleid ‘Pacifics’ than any other preserved railway. Eddystone is currently under overhaul and it is understood the boiler (currently at Buckfastleigh) and frames (at Tyseley) will be reunited in the late autumn so the locomotive can be reassembled during 2018. Manston was prematurely withdrawn following a shunting collision at Swanage on July 24 (see SR470) and despite having had its boiler ticket extended to July 2018, is now undergoing its ‘ten-yearly’ overhaul. Anyone buying a share in SLL for the up-front cost of £250, or standing order to help Manston, will receive the new Richard Green (Locos in Profile) print of No. 34070 and, like all shareholders, will be offered a chance to drive and fire at Swanage, with new shareholders getting priority. The boiler for SLL’s fifth ‘Pacific’, No. 34010 Sidmouth, will also shortly depart Bridgnorth for Northern Steam Engineering in Stockton-on-Tees for overhaul.
To become a regular sight from January: No. 34053 Sir Keith Park departs Swanage at the railway’s ‘Strictly Bulleid’ gala on April 2 with a demonstration goods train.