April 2020 Update for Southern Locomotives – New custodians of 35025 “Brocklebank Line”?

"Eddystone" Nearing Completion // Credit SLL

Southern Locomotives Ltd (SLL) has posted their latest update, including current work on their fleet and discussions regarding the future of Southern Railway Rebuilt Merchant Navy No.35025 “Brocklebank Line”.

35025 “Brocklebank Line”

Current owners of 35025, the 35025 Brocklebank Line Association, contacted SLL during 2019 to discuss the future of “Brocklebank Line” with SLL.

At the time of writing, no arrangements have been made, but SLL expects to complete a deal which will see them becoming custodians of the Merchant Navy.

If agreed, SLL would organise the storage of the locomotive and components, with no current plans to restore the engine. SLL is open to offers from anyone who wishes to support “Brocklebank Line”.

34010 “Sidmouth”

With the majority of the team focused on finishing off 34028’s overhaul, only small amounts of work have been carried out on “Sidmouth”. This has mainly included painting parts the company have already obtained for 34010.

Speedo Mechanism Support Bracket // Credit SLL
Speedo Mechanism Support Bracket // Credit SLL

34028 Eddystone

Progress on “Eddystone” has been the team’s main attention, with roughly three months work left, once restrictions due to COVID-19 have been reduced before 34028 can steam again. Most of the outstanding jobs needed to be finished can be found in the list below:

  1. Overhaul blower valve or fit a new valve
  2. Fit train pipe from running board to the ejector
  3. Install injector linkage
  4. Finish whistle cable tube and bulkhead fitting
  5. Fit generator exhaust and steam brake exhaust and align with brackets
  6. Fit smoke deflectors
  7. Make/repair spark arrester
  8. Fit fire hole door and finish door liner plates
  9. Finally, once transported from Herston to Swanage Railway, 34028 can be weighed and commissioned

Extra protection, in the form of more sacrificial plates, has been added to 34028’s smokebox.

"Eddystone"'s Improved Smokebox // Credit SLL
“Eddystone”‘s Improved Smokebox // Credit SLL

34053 “Sir Keith Park”

Unfortunately “Sir Keith Park” has been sent back to Tyseley Locomotive Works to resolve issues with it’s ‘bottom-end’. Since returning to traffic at the Swanage Railway in October 2019, a knocking noise and bearings running too hot has resulted in 34053 being withdrawn from service for Tyseley to investigate the problem.

With the coupled wheelsets removed, it was found that one of the leading wheels had worn unevenly compared to the other wheels. Therefore, all six-coupled wheels have been reprofiled. SSL staff and volunteers assisted Tyseley staff in completing the work, with a good clean of the ‘bottom-end’ being carried out too. Although now repaired, 34053 is being kept at Tyseley while the current nationwide lockdown is in place.

"Sir Keith Park"'s Removed Coupling Rod and Coupled Wheel // Credit SLL
“Sir Keith Park”‘s Removed Coupling Rod and Coupled Wheel // Credit SLL

34070 “Manston”

Despite progress being slowed by the return of “Sir Keith Park”, inspections of 34070 have shown the engine to be in a very good condition. With the cab and boiler lagging & cladding removed, full NDT testing along with a boiler examination has been passed, allowing the newly arrived boiler tubes and flues to be fitted when work can continue. The coupled wheels will be dropped to inspect the axleboxes and see if any further work is needed. In general the ‘bottom-end’ of “Manston” is in very good condition, which should make the overhaul easier and less time-consuming.

The current plan is for 34070 to return to Herston Works after Tyseley to undergo final overhaul work before entering traffic. Due to the current lockdown, no timescale can be placed on “Manston” steaming in service again.

"Manston"'s Boiler Cladding and Cab // Credit SLL
“Manston”‘s Boiler Cladding and Cab // Credit SLL

34072 “257 Squadron”

The locomotive has worked fine in service between Christmas and Early March on the small number of trains operated on the Swanage Railway. A visit to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway has been cancelled due to COVID-19.


With March seeing 80104 passing both cold and hot boiler examinations, the tank is in good shape for running its last year in traffic before withdrawal for 10-year overhaul. At the time of writing, SLL has identified some boiler work will need to be carried out, with the ‘bottom-end’ in good order following repairs within the last few years. With the Swanage Railway likely wishing for 80104 to return to traffic as soon as possible, the company may have to launch an appeal for funds to support the overhaul, as current commitments will make the timescale and funding hard to achieve.


The overhaul of “Norman” continues at a good rate with contractors. More work has been involved than initially expected, with extensive repairs being made to both cylinder block and boiler. Majority of the wasted sections of the boiler have been cut out and old stays drilled out.

The frame has seen new horns fitted. Current plans hope to see “Norman” enter service on the Spa Valley Railway for the 2021 seasons, but this will depend on a number of factors. The livery has been chosen, which is War Department (WD) ‘Longmoor’ blue and numbered 75050.


Sir Keith Park’s tender, No.002, is currently at Tyseley awaiting repairs. New spring brackets are needed, which are being made at Herston and will be taken to Tyseley for fitting. Once back in service, 34053 will switch from using No.001 (Manston’s tender) to its own No.002.

For more information or to support Southern Locomotives Ltd in restoring, overhauling and operating their fleet of seven engines, please visit their website here.

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  1. I used to fire these old westcountries out of Exm Jct (late 1950s-early 60s) sure Sidmouth n manston were there?, as a cleaner I would oil any converted on the pits as a favour for the driver who didn’t want to get his attire dirty! I soon learnt to stop them with drivers side big end at 10 past the hour so you could climb up over the huge inner counterbalance to oil the big end.i would sometimes watch these and the merchant navies go by our depot at a fast rate of knotts bound for Salisbury/waterloo, linkage and rods a blur, and think to myself god, i hope i screwed those oil corks back in good and tight !! quite a responsibility for a 16yr old..


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