No. 27 postcard

Resource Type: Image | Posted on 9th December 2011 by Liam Physick

Here we see South Eastern and Chatham Railway No. 27, pulling three coaches. It belongs to the P-class of locomotives, and was one of eight such 0-6-0T locomotives designed by Harry S Wainwright and built in 1909-10, being launched on 19th February 1910. The first two were numbered 753 and 754: the remainder were numbered 27, 178, 323, 325, 555 and 558, numbers previously used by withdrawn locomotives. The P-class locomotives were built to replace a group of underpowered steam railmotors bought only a few years before. However, P-class was only slightly more successful and its locomotives were quickly superseded by increasing traffic and heavier loads: as a consequence, they were demoted to shed and station pilot roles -  the SECR-designed steam reverser was ideally suited to this kind of work. In July 1914, No. 27 was reallocated to Reading shed: initally, it had been based at Sheerness. From April 1915, 27 and 753 were allocated to war service for the Railway Operating Division (which numbered them 5027 and 5753), building sidings and shunting the docks in Boulogne: however, their lack of power saw them return to Britain in October 1916. When the SECR was incorporated into the Southern Railway in 1923, the P-class engines had the letter “A” placed in front of their numbers: 27 was now numbered A27 - in 1925, A753 and A754 became A556 and A557. Later, the SR abolished the letter prefix and added 1000 to the P-class engines’ numbers, making No. 27 No. 1027. From 1945, 27 appears to have been mainly at Dover: following nationalisation, it became No. 31027 when British Railways increased the numbers of former SR locomotives by 30000. From 1955 to 1961, P-class locomotives were withdrawn from service by BR. On 18th June 1961, following its own withdrawal, No. 27 became only the third locomotive to be bought by the famous Bluebell Railway, and for the first two years it carried the name “Primrose”. In 1963, it was restored to SECR green livery, as seen here, and was a mainstay of the Bluebell’s operational fleet until the early 1970s. In the mid-1970s, it was dismantled for what was intended to be a quick overhaul, but the scale of the task soon proved beyond the then-limited capacity of the Bluebell Railway’s workers. It is anticipated that the overhaul will begin soon: there needs to be a lot of work done on the boiler, as well as major mechanical renewal and replacement of platework, including the locomotive’s tanks. Three other P-class locomotives have been preserved: two of those, No. 178 and No. 323 Bluebell, are also on the Bluebell Railway, and are both operational - the other, No. 753, is operational on the Kent and East Sussex Railway. Additionally, the Bluebell Railway’s first two locomotive, No. 55 Stepney and No. 73 Fenchurch, belong to the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway’s A1 Class, popularly known as Terriers, on which the P-class was based

No. 27 postcard

Tagged under: steam locomotives, coaches, carriages, british rail, tank locomotives, heritage railways, first world war, southern railway, bluebell railway, stepney

Categorised under: Landmarks, Landscapes & Locomotives

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