‘O2’ TO SUS­SEX: BLUE­BELL GATH­ERS LSWR VET­ER­ANS

Sec­ond main­land re­turn in 93 years planned for Isle of Wight Cal­bourne next spring.

Steam Railway (UK) - - FOCUS - BY NICK BRO­DRICK

Isle of Wight ‘O2’ Cal­bourne is to re­turn to the main­land for only the sec­ond time in 93 years.

The Blue­bell Rail­way will fi­nally wel­come LSWR 0-4-4T No. W24 to its met­als for its spring ‘Branch Line Week­end’, fol­low­ing sev­eral false dawns dat­ing back to the turn of the cen­tury. Its ap­pear­ance is sub­ject to fi­nal con­fir­ma­tion from its owner, the Isle of Wight Steam Rail­way, ex­pected at the end of the year.

Its planned visit for the Blue­bell’s March 15-17 branch line event would put it in the com­pany of two fel­low Adams-de­signed en­gines: ‘Ra­dial’ 4-4-2T No. 488 and ‘B4’ 0-4-0T No. 96 Nor­mandy. The pair are not ser­vice­able, but the Blue­bell has in­di­cated that it may pull them out of the new mu­seum dis­play at Sh­effield Park in or­der to create a unique preser­va­tion line-up.

Cal­bourne’s air brake will re­strict its po­ten­tial use with vac­uum-con­trolled stock, so it will either be used as a pilot en­gine on dou­ble­head­ers or run solo on un­fit­ted goods trains.

The ‘O2’s’ visit is the lat­est of a se­ries of lo­co­mo­tive ex­changes be­tween the IoWSR and Blue­bell that dates back to LBSCR ‘E4’ Birch Grove’s visit to the is­land in 1999. The Billinton 0-6-2T has re­turned twice since, and both rail­ways’ re­spec­tive pairs of ‘Ter­ri­ers’ have crossed the So­lent.

The south west con­tin­gent could be in­creased fur­ther if the Blue­bell is suc­cess­ful in at­tract­ing Na­tional Col­lec­tion Beattie 2-4-0WT No. 30587, which, like No. W24, has never run over the for­mer Lewes & East Grin­stead Rail­way.

The only other op­er­a­tional LSWR

lo­co­mo­tive is ‘T9’ No. 30120. The Drum­mond ‘Grey­hound’ was res­i­dent at Sh­effield Park be­tween 1993 and 2008, al­though it never steamed at the Blue­bell.

●● 1893-built Cal­bourne was

trans­ferred to the is­land by the South­ern Rail­way in 1925, where it re­mained un­til a whirl­wind main­land tour in 2013 that took in the Bod­min & Wen­ford, Mid-Hants, Swanage rail­ways and Buck­ing­hamshire Rail­way Cen­tre.

JOHN FAULKNER

Cal­bourne ap­proaches Ashey on Au­gust 4.

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