A look this week at the BR Southern Region Pacifics that have made an appearance on the sea wall in the last 15 years or so of preservation times.
Back in the days of steam on British Railways up to the early 1960’s it was a regular, almost daily occurrence, to have a normal service train powered by one of the Southern’s Exmouth Junction depot’s locomotives. The reason was to give their enginemen route knowledge of the GWR line to Plymouth in case their normal route of travelling via Crediton, Okehampton and Tavistock to Plymouth became unavailable to use for any reason. A similar arrangement was for the GWR enginemen to learn the Southern’s route to Exeter over the northern fringes of Dartmoor.
It must have been confusing at times at both Exeter St. Davids and Plymouth stations for travellers to find the Southern and the Western trains going in opposite directions to get to the same place! I believe that only the four SR engines that follow have passed along the sea wall since the 1960’s.
34067 Tangmere is a Battle of Britain Class Bulleid 4-6-2 Pacific locomotive and is named after the now closed RAF Tangmere air base which is near Chichester West Sussex.The airfield played a large part in the Battle of Britain air defence with Group Captain Douglas Bader, the pilot with artificial legs, based there. This engine is in it’s original “air smoothed” condition which it’s said it’s designer Oliver Bulleid had in mind for it being washed through a carriage cleaner rather than for any streamlined advantages it may have given it. One thing for sure is that it is very capable of creating lots of filthy black smoke as seen here as it rounds the bend at Langstone Rock and onto the sea wall proper.
The photo here gives a glimpse of the platform that was floated in and anchored to assist the workforce during the period that the sea wall had been breached in 2014
Here Tangmere is decorated with the Golden Arrow insignia of the Pullman train that ran between London Victoria and Dover between 1926 and 1972.
The picture was taken from where the line moves inland from the sea wall at Teignmouth.
The next loco is of the same basic design of Tangmere but was rebuilt in 1959 without the casing and fitted with Walschaerts valve gear amongst other details.
34046 Braunton is in the West Country class all of which are obviously named after towns, villages and hills in the South west of England.
Quite an amazing transformation that made maintenance easier and the running economy much improved. Braunton has been seen on the Torbay Express, the Royal Duchy, the Gt. Britain tour and Cathedral expresses. It is due back from heavy overhaul any time now.
The Merchant Navy class totaled 30 in number and were the prime express engine of the Southern Railway. They were introduced during WW2 and somehow Bulleid got away with describing them as a mixed traffic engine to get round wartime regulations. They all started out looking very much like Tangmere with an air smoothed casing but were all rebuilt in the late 1950’s in the same style as Braunton. They are all named after shipping lines and are the most powerful of the Southern express engines. These are a rarity to be seen on the sea wall. 35028 Clan Line is usually to be seen on the Belmond Northern Belle luxury Pullman train but doesn’t normally come as far as Devon. It is nearing the end of it’s heavy overhaul at Crewe at present, it’s normal duties currently being in the hands of Tornado.
35005 Canadian Pacific belongs to the Mid Hants Railway and is also under a long term heavy overhaul at Eastleigh but will hopefully appear back eventually on main line tours in a year or two. When “Canpac” as it is affectionately called was last down here it was in an unauthentic blue livery as they were only blue when in their original casing but to my mind it suited it well.
Seen here entering Exeter St. Davids in the year 2000.
Not the best of pictures but at least it is on the sea wall at the Rockstone Bridge returning to Bristol from Kinswear.
Regretfully I don’t have a picture of Clan line on the sea wall but it did make an appearance in Exeter in 2013 in the standard BR Brunswick Green livery.
The video is a compilation and begins with a rather bleak windy day at Powderham where Tangmere is double heading with 70013 Oliver Cromwell on the 8th day of the Great Britain V nine day tour around the UK. This is followed by Tangmere heading for Cornwall with the Royal Duchy day tour from Bristol to Par for the Eden Project or the Gardens of Heligan. Next up is Braunton coming through Dawlish Warren and then a couple of the return working of the Torbay Express. Nice to see the dog on one of them was enjoying the train passing though not quite as enthusiastically as the two young girls! Lastly we see Clan Line heading out for the SWT New Yard carriage siding with the empty coaching stock of this Cathedrals Express from London Victoria. The passengers only had two hours to see the delights of Exeter before their return. Clan Line took this to Castle Cary where the diesel on the rear reversed the train direction to take it to Yeovil Junction from where Clan line was now pointing in the right direction to head back to Victoria.