Sir Archibald Sinclair Plate


Southern Railway 4-6-2 Battle of Britain Class

Designer: O.V.S. Bulleid
Built: April 1947, Brighton Works, Southern Railway
Purpose: Main Line Passenger and Mixed Traffic
Rebuilt: March 1960, Eastleigh Works, British Railways
Redesign Team Leader: R.G. Jarvis
Southern Railway Number: 21C159
British Railways Number: 34059
Withdrawn British Railways: 29th May 1966
Arrived on the Bluebell Railway: 28th October 1979

Credit 21C123 Stewarts Lane
  No. 34059, Sir Archibald Sinclair on strange ground during a trial period on the Eastern Region. Taking coal at Norwich, 18th May 1949.

Sir Archibald Sinclair is a younger version of Blackmoor Vale though casual inspection would not reveal it. Emerging from the same Brighton Works in April 1947, it was one of the series named as a tribute to the personalities, aircraft, RAF stations and squadrons connected to the Battle of Britain, in this case the wartime Air Minister. Initially the engine went to Nine Elms depot near Waterloo, and in 1949 spent some time on the Eastern Region lines from Liverpool Street as a trial of pacific locomotives on this region. It returned to the Nine Elms later that year.

The design innovations on these engines were not as successful as had been hoped, principally valve gear inaccessibility in the oil sump and the steam reverser.

Credit 21C123 Railtour spacer 21C123 Nine Elms Credit
  No. 21C159 waiting to leave Waterloo with the Bournemouth Belle, 16th July 1947.   No. 34059 with a Portsmouth Harbour excursion passing Eastleigh South Junction.  

These, together with the relative inaccessibility of the boiler, due to the air smoothed casing, manifested themselves in high running and maintenance costs and a growing reputation for unpredictable performance. Eventually BR decided that the class would have to be rebuilt along conventional lines. All the Merchant Navy class and over half the Light Pacifics were so treated, including No. 34059, before the decision to concentrate on developing diesel and electric traction halted the programme. How radically the appearance was altered can be seen by comparing No. 34059 with No. 21C123.

The Rebuilt Locomotive

Credit 21C123 Stewarts Lane
  No. 34059 on shed at Nine Elms, 7th December 1965.

Rebuilding produced an impressive locomotive in a more classical style than the original design, although externally the most obvious difference was the removal of the air smoothed casing. The boiler, two of the three cylinders, frames and wheels were unchanged.

The evidence is conflicting as to whether, from a performance view, they were improved by rebuilding, but they were now the most modern express steam locomotives on British Railways and performed well until the end of Southern steam in July 1967.

The locomotive spent nearly all its life on the South Western main lines. Based initially at Nine Elms, London, it went to Exmouth Junction after rebuilding, before moving to Salisbury shed in January 1965. Throughout this time it worked main line services between London and the West of England. The two gaps in this service were the visit to the Eastern Region’s London - East Anglia lines and a brief sojourn on the Southern Region’s Kent lines in 1960-61 in the last stages before electrification.

Credit 21C123 Railtour spacer 21C123 Nine Elms Credit
  No. 34059 at Clapham Junction, 3rd April 1965.   No. 34059 on the up fast just north of Esher station, February 1965.  

No. 34059 was withdrawn on 29th May 1966 and like many others of the class, was sold to Woodham Brothers of Barry, South Wales. It was bought for preservation by a group based on the Bluebell who decided that the line really had to have an example of the ultimate in Southern steam power. It arrived at the Bluebell on 28th October 1979, without a tender, most of these having been disposed of by the yard to a local steelworks for use as ingot carriers.

Shed Allocations

25/4/47 - Nine Elms   4/49 - Stratford   5/49 - Nine Elms
11/4/51 - Exmouth Junction   10/10/55 - Salisbury        

Technical Information

Cylinders (3) 16.375 in x 24 in
Piston Valves - diameter 10 in
Piston Valves - travel 6.25 in
Bogie diameter 3 ft 1 in
Coupled wheel diameter 6 ft 2 in
Trailing wheels 3 ft 1 in
Wheelbase 35 ft 6 in
Boiler length 16 ft 9.5 in
Evaporative surface 2122 sq ft
Superheater 545 sq ft
Total 2667 sq ft
Grate area 38.25 sq ft
Boiler pressure 250 lb sq in
Tractive effort 27,720 lb
Tender - coal capacity 5 tons
Tender - water capacity 5,250 gallons
Weight in working order - engine 90 tons 1cwt
Weight in working order - tender 42 tons 12 cwt
Total 132 tons 13 cwt
Length - engine 44 ft 2.75 in
Length - tender 23 ft 2 in
Total 67 ft 4.75 in