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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 13 - September 1972

SR West Country Class 4-6-2 - 34016 Bodmin


qn_13_02.jpg (61,912 bytes)

J R Fairman - In Thame High Street

Quainton is privileged to provide accommodation for the restoration of a former Southern Railway West Country class 4-6-2 locomotive and we were delighted to witness the arrival of 34016 in the up yard on 29th July after its long journey by road from Woodham's yard at Barry, South Wales. Congratulations to John S Bunch and his friends in saving a rebuilt WC; the safe ending of the offloading exercise on the following day must have brought them a sense of real pride, please and relief.

Bodmin is a Brighton built engine and was new in November 1945 numbered 21C116, the 16th of the first series of 30 engines built to Order 2561. This was the initial batch of Mr O V Bullied's lightweight Pacifies characterised by their distinctive smooth cladding to boiler barrel and smokebox as well as by many novel mechanical features. Two engines in the unrebuilt form are preserved elsewhere; 34023 on the Bluebell Railway and 34051 at Preston Park but 34016 is the only one of the rebuilt engines to be saved.

21C116 had Boiler 1282 and tender 3259 when new. It went to Exmouth Junction shed, (72A), and was used on the Plymouth, North Devon and Cornwall lines as well as on the main line to Salisbury and very occasionally to Waterloo. On 28th August 1946 it was named Bodmin and in January 1948 was given an S prefix to its number when repainted on its first visit to Eastleigh Works. A year later it became 34016. Under the BR power classification it was originally 6MT but became 7P5F under the revision of 1953 and 7P6F at a further revision at the end of 1957.

In 1948 Bodmin was working frequently on the Devon Belle between Exeter and Ilfracombe while on 18th July 1949 it was used for a special trial trip with a freight train on the GW main line from Exeter Riverside yard to Truro, returning with a loaded china clay train. The scenic coastal line between Dawlish and Teignmouth was another happy hunting ground for Bodmin while on 9th July 1949 it had worked the 2.35 pm Plymouth to Exeter St Davids passenger train usually operated by a GW engine.

By 1951 the total of West Country and the similar Battle of Britain Pacifies was 110, (34001-34110) but the design incorporated certain inherently weak mechanical features and the class were not proving easy to maintain under the increasingly difficult post war conditions. In 1957 the first rebuilding to a more straightforward conventional layout was carried out on 34005 Barnstaple and in April 1958 34016 Bodmin appeared from Eastleigh Works in its new form. It was coupled to tender 3339 which had formerly run with 34088 but the tender was modified from the original wide tank design by a change of profile to give improved visibility for enginemen, better access and improved storage for tools and irons.

The rebuilt Bodmin did not return to Exmouth but took up residence at Ramsgate shed, (74B). After only a few weeks in traffic it was selected to work a special train with Royal train head code on 13th May 1958 bringing the President of Italy, Signor Gronchi, and his wife from Dover Marine to Victoria for a State visit. The train of five Pullman Cars and a bogie brake van made a beautiful sight with a highly polished Bodmin carrying on the smoke box door a circular board on which the British and Italian flags were depicted.

The summer of 1958 was, however the last with full steam operation on the Kent coast lines and in the September Ramsgate was transferred to the Stewarts Lane district as (73G). On 15 June 1959 it lost its allocation of locomotives entirely when Stage 1 of the electrification was completed. 34016 then moved to Bricklayers Arms, (73B), to continue work on the remaining Kent steam main line to Dover via Tonbridge. These duties were performed with excellent reliability, (Bodmin paid comparatively few visits to Works), until the Folkestone and Dover line also succumbed to the third rail in June 1961.

Bodmin was then transferred back to the Western Section and was allocated to Eastleigh, (71 A), where often it was rostered for Southampton Docks boat trains and the heavy Bourne mouth expresses. On one occasion, 22nd December 1962 it was seen running into Waterloo double-headed with 34104, an extremely unusual sight.

34016 paid its last visit to Eastleigh Works in March 1963. Withdrawal came in June 1964 from Eastleigh, (70D since September 1963) but for a few months it was kept active in the Works yard supplying steam for safety valve testing. In October the engine was sold for scrap to Woodham Bros., Barry and it was towed dead to South Wales. That should have been the end of the Bodmin life history but John Bunch takes up the story:-

"Towards the end of 1969 the Isle of Purbeck Preservation Group were approaching certain owners of locomotives with a view to running on the Swanage branch which they were aiming to preserve. I had been considering buying an ex-BR engine and we inspected rebuilt West Country class at Barry and found 34016 was in the best mechanical condition although it was necessary to obtain a large number of parts to make a complete locomotive. In August 1971 a coat of green paint was applied to arrest further deterioration and to please photographers. Meanwhile it became clear that the Swanage scheme was impractical due to road works and severe financial terms. I was wanting accommodation for Bodmin in the Home Counties and finding Quainton were agreeable to giving my engine a home I made the decision to move from Barry. Thanks to the many QRS people who have been so helpful especially to Roy Miller and Peter Clarke. Also my grateful thanks to Woodham Bros., and Pointers Ltd who handled the transport; without their effort preservation and movement would not have been possible".

On 28th July the massive 80 ton load left Barry and wended its way to Newport, Ross on Wye, Gloucester and the A40 to Witney for an overnight stop. The next day completed the journey via the Oxford bypass, Thame, where our picture was taken, and the lanes through Cudlington, Chearsley and to Waddesdon. It was a triumphant entry into Quainton to be reunited with the tender which had come separately earlier in the week.

It is believed that most motorists were willing to overlook the reason for their delay when they saw the great locomotive with an Atlantic Coast Express headboard, a smart 34016 on the smokebox door and the name Bodmin neatly painted on the deflectors.

All members and visitors will welcome our first Pacific and wish every success to the efforts of those who have years of work ahead of them to restore Bodmin to the living machine which served the SR so well in the past.

1 - Since this has been written a total of 4 unrebuilt West Country class locomotives have been preserved, with 11 of both forms preserved. 34023 is still at the Bluebell Railway, whereas 34051 is now at the National Railway Museum.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1972 and so does not reflect events in the 40+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Bodmin - Quainton News No. 13 - September 1972

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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