Wednesday, 5 July 2017

50 Years since the end of Southern Steam

34019 'Bideford' awaits it's fate at the end of Southern Steam. This was an excellent photo piece put together by the Mid Hants railway using their out of ticket 34007 'Wadebridge' (plus a little help from photoshop!). 34007's boiler certificate expired during 2016 and she now finds herself in the overhaul queue at Ropley.

BR Standard 4MT 76017 waits for departure time from Ropley with a shuttle
service to Alresford. 76017 spent it's entire career on the Southern based at
Eastleigh shed before finishing its days based at Salisbury.
Sunday 9th July 1967 was a sad day for the Southern Railway with the curtain finally falling on steam traction. The final routes to be steam worked was the main line from Waterloo to Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth with electric services taking over from the following Monday. This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the end of Southern Steam and has seen a great number of events, railtours and galas to commemorate the occasion. With work commitments preventing me from getting to the highly successful Bulleid gala at the Swanage Railway earlier in the year I was determined not to miss the 'End of Southern Steam' event at the Watercress line in early July.

Both diesel and electric traction replaced steam on the Southern.
33053 would have run alongside steam in the latter days, the
class being a product of BRCW at Smethwick from 1960-1962.
33053 is here seen with an engineers train including the working
steam crane (some of which worked into the 1980's for BR!)

The railway was hosting it's event over two weekends culminating on Sunday 9th July- 50 years exactly since the last steam hauled train to Bournemouth left Waterloo. Present at the line were four (working) Bulleid Pacific's accompanied by a host of other locomotives associated with the final days of steam on the Southern region. Weather on the first weekend was forecast to be changeable however the Sunday was blessed with almost wall to wall sunshine. The photos that follow are a fitting tribute to this anniversary and also a reminder of how thankful we should be that the UK has such a thriving preservation movement and that scenes such as these are still possible for us all to enjoy.

Double headed 'Pacifics' would not have been common- especially on 5 coaches! 'West Country' class 34053 'Sir Keith Park' leads classmate 34052 'Lord Dowding'* with a service from Alresford to Alton. *This is 34046 'Braunton' currently running as scrapped 34052.
35006 'Penninsula & Oriental' represents the 'Merchant Navy' Pacifics. This locomotive was making its first visit from the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway where it has recently returned to service after a lengthy overhaul from scrap condition.

Another locomotive recently restored to working order is 34053 'Sir Keith Park' which entered service at the Severn Valley Railway in 2012. The re-built 'West Country' is seen with the final train of the day from Alresford to Alton.

Only one 'Air Smoothed' Bulleid pacific was present for the gala, 34081 '92 Squadron' visiting from the Nene Valley Railway is resplendent in SR Malachite Green- a livery it would have lost long before the end of steam in 1967. Looking quite the part, and demonstrating why the class were nicknamed 'Spam Can's' 34018 is seen heading towards Meadstead & Four Marks.
Over the course of the gala several trains have been reenacted including several freight trains using the lines restored wagons. BR Standard 4MT hauls a brake van special towards Ropley.

35028 'Clan Line' powers through Hersham in the last of the days light with
the 'Bournemouth Belle' on 5th July 2017.
On the 50th anniversary week itself a number of steam specials ran on the main line network. One of the most prominent was a re-run of the Bournemouth Belle, the premier Pullman service from London to Bournemouth. The Bournemouth Belle was last steam hauled on 5th July 1967 and it was to be 50 years to the day that the train was re-enacted with 35028 'Clan Line' at the helm. The date was also significant in being 50 years since 35028 last worked under BR ownership. While BR may have had no use for these locomotives 'Clan Line' has just returned to main line service following a comprehensive overhaul. She will continue to provide main line service for many years to come, often at the head of the luxury 'Belmond British Pullman' who's coaches were used for the re-creation of the Bournemouth Belle.

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