Southern Railway 4-6-2 West Country Class
Designer: O.V.S. Bulleid
Built: February 1946, Brighton Works, Southern Railway
Purpose: Main Line Passenger and Mixed Traffic
Southern Railway Number: 21C123
British Railways Number: 34023
Withdrawn by British Railways: July 1967
Arrived on the Bluebell Railway: 29th September 1971
|No. 21C123 at Stewarts Lane, 13th April 1946.
The locomotive was built at the Southern Railway's works at Brighton in 1946. One of a class which eventually numbered 110 locomotives, collectively known as the light pacifics. The members of the class were named after West Country locations, the West Country class, and also after RAF air squadrons, fighters and personalities involved with the RAF and its war effort, the Battle of Britain class. The locomotives were visually smaller versions of the Merchant Navy class, which were built at the Southern Railway's works at Eastleigh between 1941 and 1949. Although all the Merchant Navy class were rebuilt, with the most obvious sign being the removal of the air smoothed casing, only 60 of the light pacifics were rebuilt.
|Above a is a scan of the original leaflet advertising the West Country Class.
All members of the class were designed by Oliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid, the chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern Railway and all were characterised by the distinctive air smoothed casing over the boiler.
Blackmoor Vale was built to order number 2561, dated 28 September 1944 at a cost of £17,160 and entered traffic in February 1946. The locomotive was painted in the distinctive Southern Railway's livery of Malachite green with three horizontal yellow stripes and fitted with a 4,500 gallon tender, No. 3273 and boiler No. 1279 and was initially numbered 21C123 in the Bulleid numbering system. It also had the characteristic Southern smokebox roundel with the date of construction, 1946, below the word Southern.
In April 1948, after the formation of British Railways, the locomotive was renumbered into the Southern Railway's classification as No. 34023 still with the distinctive Southern roundel on the smokebox and with the lettering British Railways on the tender sides. The locomotive lost the Malachite green livery in April 1950 when based at Salisbury and was repainted in BR Green with two orange and black lines replacing the upper and lower yellow lines of the earlier livery. The first BR lion and wheel emblem appeared on the tender, replacing the British Railways lettering. At the same the name was altered to Blackmore Vale.
|No. 34023 at Nine Elms.
To improve the visibility from the cab the front of the cab was modified to a Vee shape and three side windows were fitted, a modification carried out in October 1954. Other modifications appeared on the locomotive over the next ten years, including the resiting of the safety valves from the front of the boiler to the rear of the boiler and reducing the valves to two in number.
The tenders of the locomotives were cut down by removal of the tall tender sides (raves) to assist water filling and coal replenishment. Blackmore Vale's tender was modified in February 1962 when she was fitted with tender number 3311. In September 1964 the locomotive worked the Padstow portion of the last up Atlantic Coast Express.
No. 34023 was withdrawn in July 1967 and purchased by the Bulleid Preservation Society.
|16.375 in x 24 in
|Piston Valves - diameter
|Piston Valves - travel
|3 ft 1 in
|Coupled wheel diameter
|6 ft 2 in
|3 ft 1 in
|35 ft 6 in
|16 ft 9.5 in
|2122 sq ft
|545 sq ft
|2667 sq ft
|38.25 sq ft
|250 lb sq in
|Tender - coal capacity
|Tender - water capacity
|Weight in working order - engine
|Weight in working order - tender
|42 tons 12 cwt
|128 tons 12 cwt
|Length - engine
|44 ft 2.75 in
|Length - tender
|23 ft 2 in
|67 ft 4.75 in