Swanage Railway

Swanage Railway

Swanage Railway


Dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers are to mark tomorrow’s Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton by decorating the large 1940s main line express steam locomotive hauling the special day’s train service on the relaid Purbeck Line.

The smokebox of 1947 Brighton-built Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacific steam locomotive No. 34070 ‘Manston’ will be decorated with two crossed Union Jack flags – and two freshly painted white route discs above the front buffers – while the steam locomotive will be highly polished for the event.

Tomorrow, Friday 29 April 2011, ‘Manston’ will be hauling trains from Norden ‘park and ride’ bound for Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross, Herston Halt and Swanage at 10.30am, 12 noon, 1.30pm, 3pm, 4.30pm and 5.55pm.

In between the ‘Manston’-hauled steam trains, the Swanage Railway 1960s heritage diesel rail bus will also be running – departing Norden ‘park and ride’ for Swanage at 11.15am, 12.45pm, 2.15pm, 3.45pm and 5.15pm.

Swanage Railway commercial manager Martin Payne said: “The Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London is an historic and moving occasion for the whole country.

“The Swanage Railway is pleased to celebrate the important national event and we will be marking the special occasion by decorating the steam locomotive operating our Royal wedding day train service,” he explained.

Weighing 128 tons, with a water capacity of 4,500 gallons and a tender carrying up to five tons of coal, ‘Manston’ was rescued from the Barry scrapyard in South Wales during 1978 – after languishing there for 18 years – and cost Southern Locomotives Ltd £750,000 to restore to full working order.

With a tractive effort of just over 31,000 lbs, a boiler pressure of 280 lb per square inch, and giant six feet two inch driving wheels, Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacifics like ‘Manston’ hauled prestigious express trains between London, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth as well as London, Salisbury and Exeter between the mid-1940s and 1967.

‘Manston’ was the last Bulleid Pacific to be numbered using locomotive designer Oliver Bulleid’s unusual system and it emerged from Brighton Works in November 1947 as No. 21C70 – and it was the last locomotive to be built by the Southern Railway before nationalisation by the Government into British Railways during 1948.

With its versatile 18-ton axle loading, an all-steel welded boiler, chain-driven valve gear, inside motion enclosed in an oil bath and ‘air-smoothed’ casing, ‘Manston’ was initially allocated to Ramsgate for duty on the main line services to London.

On 31 May 1948, ‘Manston’ made railway history when it had the distinction of working the inaugural ‘Thanet Belle’ Pullman train between Ramsgate and London Victoria.

In common with the other Bulleid numbered engines, ‘Manston’ was given a conventional British Railways number, No. 34070, and in 1950 it was transferred to the Stewarts Lane motive power depot in London for work on the important BR Eastern Section services to Folkestone and Dover.

‘Manston’ was also used to haul trains on the BR Central Section services to Brighton. In 1955, ‘Manston’ was moved to Dover where it was used on the Continental boat trains – including the Night Ferry.

The completion of the Kent Coast electrification in May 1961 meant that there was no longer any suitable work at Dover for ‘Manston’ and it was transferred back to Stewarts Lane and then to its last shed, Exmouth Junction, in Devon.

‘Manston’ worked over the Southern’s extensive system in Devon and North Cornwall as well as the main line between Exeter and Salisbury. It was finally withdrawn by British Railways in August 1964 and sent for scrap to Woodham’s yard at Barry Island in south Wales.