No. 21C123 New Inner Firebox Appeal
Blackmoor Vale Plate
To enable No. 21C123 Blackmoor Vale to be overhauld and returned to traffic it requires a new inner firebox costing £199,900
Further Details spacer Donation Form
  West Country Inner Firebox

13th April 2016

No. 21C123 Blackmoor Vale

The 15th May 2016 marks 40 years since No. 21C123 Blackmoor Vale entered service on the Bluebell Railway.

Below are a couple of pictures taken by Mike Esau on that day. Help get Blackmoor Vale back into traffic by donaing to the New Iinner Firebox Appeal.

Credit 21C123 Blackmoor Vale Horsted Keynes
Credit 21C123 Blackmoor Vale ACE

27th April 2016

No. 34081 92 Squadron

Credit 34059 Golden Arrow spacer


Progress on the overhaul of 34081 92 Squadron, being carried out by the Battle of Britain Locomotive Society, is now reaching its final stage. The image taken in the Nene Valley Railway workshop recently shows what 21C123 Blackmoor Vale could look like in a few years if the firebox appeal fund is successful!

5th April 2016

No. 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair – Inner Firebox Problems

Firstly may I apologise that this has arrived later than I had hoped. You will have no doubt either read or heard about the problems with the inner firebox from 34059 currently at LNWR at Crewe. During January we were advised by Richard Watkins, boiler foreman at LNWR Crewe, that they had discovered flaws in previous welding done to inner the firebox. This had been discovered in the course of removing some platework, which had involved cutting through an old weld repair, the visual inspection of the joint then revealed flaws in the weld. After discussion with Richard it was agreed that a full non-destructive test inspection of all the other welds in the firebox should be carried out. This was verified by two independent inspection companies and agreed by LNWR, the Bluebell Railway and the Battle of Britain group.

As you can imagine this news came as bitter blow to the small gang who have worked on 34059 as this has not been the first time that problems have arisen. As soon as the inspections had been completed, Chris Shepherd (Bluebell Workshop Manager) Chris Hunford (Locomotive Director) myself and John Fry travelled to Crewe to discuss the position with Richard Watkins. As a result of this meeting it was decided by both the group and Bluebell Railway that the most appropriate course of action would be to replace the entire inner firebox, rather than to try to salvage what good material remains with the need to add further welds to both old and new platework.

With the recently announced change in strategy at LNWR and its focus on the repair of their own locomotives (No. 35028 Clan Line will continue to be repaired at Crewe) the decision was taken to replace the complete inner firebox. The boiler will be transported from Crewe to South Devon Railway Engineering (SDRE), the remaining platework of the inner firebox will be removed, with the tubeplate being re-used in the new inner firebox. A new inner firebox will be ordered and fabricated by SDRE who will complete its fitting to the outer wrapper of the firebox. The completed boiler will then be returned to the Bluebell Railway, where the tubes and stays will be fitted and the boiler returned to the frames. Although this news is very disappointing, I hope you will agree that the action we have taken is the most prudent decision in view of the problems. It is better to find these issues now, rather than run the risk that the locomotive might run for a further short period before possibly suffering more firebox problems.

As with everything in this life there is often a cloud with a silver lining. SDRE has been able to offer a discount on the construction of two inner fireboxes. The Bulleid Society also require a new inner firbox for 21C123, Blackmoor Vale. So currently Chris Hunford, is in discussions with both our group and the Bulleid Society to see if finance can be arranged to take advantage of this offer to benefit the Bluebell, the Bulleid Society and our group.

Can I make it clear that your support for the aim of the 500+ club this year will still be honoured. We said that finance raised from this club will go towards getting 34059 professionally painted when the repair is finished. Whatever monies are raised by the club this year, will be put aside specifically for the repaint.

The current 500+ club has not been as successful as previous years. Unfortunately there are a large number of subscribers who have still not renewed. If you have not renewed could I ask you to please re-consider. To this end I have taken the decision that the first draw which was due on March 25 will now be postponed until the date of the second draw on April 25, meaning a double draw on this date!

Roger Cruse
Chairman, Bluebell Battle of Britain Group
31st March 2016

26th February 2016

No. 34102 Lapford – The Other Choice!

The Bulleid Pacific Preservation Society was set up to save an original light Pacific in fully operational condition and by the end of steam in July 1967, West Country Class Pacifics No. 34023, Blackmore Vale and No. 34102, Lapford were the only unrebuilt Bulleid pacifics remaining in traffic. No. 34023, Blackmore Vale was the locomotive purchased as it was considered to be the most mechanically sound.

Nigel Whitwell took the following pictures and the story behind them is explained below.

'Many of us have been in the fortunate position of being in the right place at the right time, especially if we worked on the railway. I was in such a position in December 1961 when the 'Pines Express' was diverted due to flooding of its normal route in Somerset. On two days the change of engine at Bath from the Southern pacific that had worked the train from Bournemouth couldn’t take place.

On the first occasion West Country No. 34102 Lapford worked right through to Birmingham, returning on the southbound 'Pines Express' the following day. I was working at Engine Shed Junction, Gloucester, on 6th December 1961 where I first photographed it before tearing off to Gloucester Eastgate on my moped to photograph it again as it was departing.

I didn't always have my camera with me, as on the following day when the Pines Express was again diverted. This time now-preserved No. 34053 Sir Keith Park ,was replaced at Gloucester. I was oiling a signal gantry at Tramway Junction when I spotted it leaving Eastgate Station and heading to Barnwood Shed. Needless to say I didn't have my camera with me up the gantry, although I did photograph it on Barnwood Shed later when the shed staff conveniently positioned it on a siding outside the shed.'

Credit 34102 Lapford Gloucester
  No. 34102 Lapford at Engine Shed Junction, Gloucester, 6th December 1961.
Credit 34102 Lapford Gloucester
  No. 34102 Lapford leaving Gloucester Eastgate, 6th December 1961.
Credit 34053 Sir Keith Park Nameplate
  No. 34053 Sir Keith Park's nameplate, Barnwood Shed Gloucester, 7th December 1961.

10th February 2016

South Western Circle Monographs

The Monographs listed below are highly recommended both from the information contained and the price!

Monograph spacer No.1: Salisbury 1906
An Answer to the Enigma?

Norman Pattenden
Third Enlarged Edition
Published 2016
Pages 120
Price £6.50
spacer Monograph spacer No.5: The Riverside Electric
LSWR Electrification

Colin Chivers
Published 2011
Reprinted 2016
Pages 192
Price £8.00
Monograph   No.3: Waterloo Station
circa 1900
An Illustrated Tour

Colin Chivers and Philip Wood
Published 2006
Pages 98
Price £5.00
  Monograph   No.6: Nine Elms Locomotive
Works at the turn of the
19th/20th Centuries

Peter H Swift
Published 2012
Pages 88
Price £6.50
Monograph   No.4: Special Traffic

Norman H Pattenden
Published 2007
Pages 144
Price £5.00
  Monograph   No.7: The L&SWR use of
Low Pressure Pneumatic

Stuart Isbister
Published 2014
Pages 180
Price £8.50

They are available from: SWC Monographs, 2 Eaton Wood, Peatmoor, Swindon, SN5 5AT. Prices include postage and packing. Cheques should be made payable to: The South Western Circle.

26th January 2016

Tony Deller No.34059  
  Tony at the controls of No. 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair

Tony Deller, C.Eng, M.i.Mech.Eng

Tony Deller, the Bulleid Society's Technical Advisor, has sadly died at the age of seventy five.

When Tony could not get to the railway he would often phone me to enquire how work was progressing and to proffer advice to be passed onto the appropriate person.  Then one day he said ’Could I ask you a favour? I am not sure when it will happen but at my funeral I would like you to talk a little about me. You have a copy of my autobiography (350 pages) so you know quite a lot about my railway life’.

Since childhood, he always had an interest in railways, enhanced initially by having a model train set and later by membership of the Norbury Transport and Model Railway Club, who organised meetings and railway visits. At secondary school, apparently he managed to position his desk so that the view to the local main line was a constant distraction

Tony started his working life, aged 15, and was set on becoming an engine driver. He found employment at Norwood Junction motive power depot (75C) as an engine cleaner – at the bottom rung of the ladder to the position of driver.

Five months after starting work, Tony changed tack to become an apprentice fitter and enrolled for an ONC in mechanical engineering. Tony found that the fitter’s life was much more to his liking and under Alan Ings’s guidance he progressed, spending time at Redhill and Feltham, where he later become shed master and a member of the breakdown gang.  Work was interrupted by events such as the Epsom week when it was essential that no breakdowns occurred. Tony, with his experience in this aspect of the railway, accompanied one of the breakdown trains to Epsom station and naturally went to the race meeting itself.

Spacer Tony Deller Photographing Firebox
  Taking a photograph of the firebox of No. 34059, 23 March 2009.

In the fifth year of his apprenticeship, Tony went to Eastleigh. He successfully completed his  apprenticeship and gained his ONC and started work again at Norwood before progressing to the salaried posts in BR Membership of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Chartered Engineer status followed his completion of an HNC in mechanical engineering Postings included an enjoyable year at Nine Elms motive power depot in the latter days of steam, shed master at Feltham, involvement with Bournemouth electrification, repair shop manager at Stratford, where Tony often talked about interesting repair jobs including those on the Deltic locomotives.



Tony Deller Pulman
Tony relaxing on the Pullman special being hauled by No. 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair after the renaming ceremony, 24th April 2009.  

He returned to the Southern in 1985 and developed Slade Green repair shop for electric traction repairs and also published a book on the depot.  He was project engineer for the introduction of the Networker EMUs in 1988 into the South Eastern section of the Southern and was then invited to join Transmark, the consultancy arm of BR This took him to Australia and involvement in maintenance practices  and latterly a similar project in Malaysia.

Early retirement in 2000 gave him time to complete and run the 3.5 inch model of Schools class No. 30915, Brighton, started in his apprentice years in 1959. The Bluebell beckoned, where we have had 15 years of his expertise and involvement with steam such as that shown in the article in Bluebell News, Spring 2014, on ‘Improving performance on the C Class’ a class of locomotive he first met as a fourteen year old. He will be much missed from his practical skills and teaching and his wide knowledge of railway engineering.

Perhaps these words from the Nine Elms web site, a depot where he worked in the mid 1960s, are a fitting epitaph.

To his immediate family and friends – your loss is shared by us all. On behalf of the Nine Elms Enginemen’s Reunion
– God bless, safe onward journey –

John Fry
Bulleid Society Chairman

7th January 2016

Bluebell Railway 2015/16 500+ Club

Membership of the Bluebell Railway 2016/17 500+ Club is now open. The club has been running for several years and this year the decision has been made to raise the finance to pay for the repainting No. 34059 Sir Archibald Sinclair. Membership Form – full details available here.

No. 35028 Clan Line – Tyre Removal

Not one of our loco's but the links below have Bulleid interest as they show the removal of No. 35028's old tyres at the SDR, taken by Mike Turner.
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