‘O2’ TO SUSSEX: BLUEBELL GATHERS LSWR VETERANS
Second mainland return in 93 years planned for Isle of Wight Calbourne next spring.
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.
Calbourne approaches Ashey on August 4.