2019 In Review: Steam Locomotive 45596 Bahamas

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Bahamas

As the year comes to a close, here at RailAdvent are taking a look back at some of the notable events that have happened through the year. As part of this, we’ll be taking a look at ex-LMS Jubilee class locomotive, 45596 Bahamas.

2019 has been a big year for the Jubilee, hauling her first railtour on the mainline in 20 years, following an extensive £996,000 overhaul carried out by the locomotive’s owners, the Bahamas Locomotive Society, and Tyseley Locomotive Works supported financially by a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. This was gained, in part, due to the significance of 45596’s unique double chimney, which was fit by British Railways as an experiment to improve performance in 1961, making Bahamas the last steam locomotive to be experimented on by BR.

The overhaul took 5 years to complete, being the most extensive in preservation, and included the installation of brand new, up to date mainline electronic equipment, with work finishing in late 2018. Meanwhile, a railtour from Oxenhope to Carlisle over the famous Settle to Carlisle line was announced, in conjunction with the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. Tickets for this sold out quickly, and a second tour was planned for a week after the first.

Following this, a series of test runs were carried out in January 2019, which highlighted issues with the new equipment that required attention. This led to a very tense time for enthusiasts and the organisations involved in the locomotive, to try and fix the issues found, and get the locomotive back to her home base on the KWVR in time for the tour on the 9th February. On the 31st January, Bahamas passed her loaded test runs, and returned home to the KWVR on the 5th February, just in time for a quick polish before the tour!

45596 'Bahamas' at Keighley
45596 ‘Bahamas’ at Keighley // Credit: Tom Houseman

On February 9th, 2019, Bahamas set off from Oxenhope hauling her first mainline train in the 21st century. However, at Keighley, disaster struck, and the tour was nearly cancelled. The night before had seen a bad storm, and just outside of Keighley, a tree had come down on the overhead live wires. After a few tense minutes of waiting, the tour gained permission to proceed with caution and inspect the blockage, due to being the only train in the area that could do so, since it didn’t run off the overhead live wires! Upon inspection, the tree was found to be just leaning on the wires, and the decision was made to proceed with caution. With the tour now on the mainline towards Skipton, everything ran as smooth as clockwork. A repeat of the tour ran a week later, without any issues.

45596 Bahamas at Long Preston
45596 Bahamas at Long Preston // Credit: RailAdvent

Following these successful runs, Bahamas made an appearance at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway’s 2019 Winter Steam Gala, where she ran on the Friday and Sunday, being on display in the yard at her home base of Ingrow on Saturday, giving members of the public a chance to take photos and go on the footplate.

After the gala, 45596 next made an appearance on Friday, 29th March, when she pulled a special train, including a Pullman car, on the KWVR, as part of her official recommissioning, when she was formally reintroduced to service by Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy. This event was to conclude the overhaul of the locomotive, and the restoration and conversion of the Society’s Learning Coach, both of which were funded with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

After a busy period, things went quiet for the locomotive, until Bahamas was out in the yard at Ingrow once again, this time for a royal visit from HRH The Duke Of Kent, to see the locomotive and meet some of the people involved in her preservation and restoration. After the Duke departed, Bahamas remained on show for a short period, allowing people to visit the cab again, before returning to Haworth later that day.

On the 11th June, Bahamas took to the mainline again and returned to Tyseley Locomotive Works for their open weekend on the 22nd/23rd June. Whilst at Tyseley, she also operated a number of successful tours for Vintage Trains over the period of 2 months, including The Welsh Marches, The Shakespeare Express, and The White Rose.

45596 Bahamas
Credit: Richard Harnetty

After the Vintage Trains runs, Bahamas moved to York, in preparation for hauling The Railway Touring Company’s Waverly, on the 18th August, returning to the S&C once again. Whilst stationed here, Bahamas shared the yard with classmate 45699 Galatea, which, after sharing quarters at Tyseley with 5593 Kolhapur, left 45690 Leander as the only classmate to meet.

Bahamas hauled the tour over the Settle & Carlisle line with no issues again, and on the 4th September, returned from York NRM to the KWVR on her last mainline movement of the year. Once back at her home base, several modifications were made to the locomotive. Following the fitting of a new, highly effective spark arrestor during the year, it was decided to modify the smokebox to be self-cleaning, to save time and effort during mainline tours. This was fit during late 2019, but, at the time of writing, has yet to be tested.

Bahamas has seen no further use in 2019, but as the year draws to a close, her first mainline tour of 2020 has been announced, a re-run of the Oxenhope To Carlisle trips she ran in February 2019. The tour will run on February 22nd, and seats are still available. For anyone wanting more details or to book on the tour, you can find more information here.

No other running days have been announced for the locomotive yet, however, although unconfirmed she is expected to be in action at the KWVR’s annual winter steam gala. For more information about the locomotive and to keep up to date with her movements, keep an eye on the Bahamas Locomotive Society’s official Facebook page here.

We look forward to seeing what 45596 will do next!

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