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Southern Railway rebuilt Bulleid "Battle of Britain" Pacific
No.34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" - built in 1947, rebuilt 1960


34059 in 1966 - jpg: 113k

34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" arrives at New Milton with a semi-fast for Waterloo on 30th April 1966. The loco is wearing an Eastleigh duty number.
Photo © Nigel Kendall - SteamWeb.



Current Status

"Sir Archibald Sinclair" was stopped during October 2011 because of a stay which was leaking badly, the surrounding platework was showing signs of star-fracturing, and a crack was evident in the uppermost part of the right thermic siphon. Investigation of the thermic siphon crack was inconclusive; after grinding out the suspected location and dye penetrant inspection, use of the camera on a stick did not show anything useful. It would have been possible to do quick-fixes to both of these problems, but it would be likely that further similar failure would occur soon. So with this in mind the rear parts of the tops of both thermic siphons were cut out, which revealed multiple fractures in the right side showing the material is life-expired. The holes thus made allow a better view inside, and as a result of this it is now obvious that significant replacement of old platework is required in order to obtain reliable service.

So the current boiler certificate has ended, and we have planned a repair job which will start a new ticket. The work will include new thermic siphon parts, and replacement of both lower sides up to the height of the brick arch. The centre part of the crown sheet will also be replaced, and possibly the top corner sections (where the sides join the crown sheet). The work will require the boiler to be taken out of the frames, and it is estimated that the work will take 9 months. This could not start immediately, due to other priorities, but as the first priority of the "Keep up the Pressure" fund-raising campaign, it is hoped to be able to expedite the work by contracting out the boiler repair.


The Bulleid light pacifics were built to provide increased power for use on the Southern's secondary main lines, especially those in the West country with weight restrictions. Initially intended as the "West Country" class, once a significant number of the locomotives were in regular use in the south-east of England, the idea was conceived that some (eventually 44 out of the 110) of the locomotives should be named after personalities, aircraft, RAF stations and squadrons associated with the Battle of Britain, which had been fought, for the most part, over the Southern Railway's territory. Hence the "Battle of Britain" class was born.

Sir Archibald Sinclair (1890-1970) was one of the personalities to have a locomotive named after him. He got to know Winston Churchill well before the First World War, and served for five months as Churchill's second in command in the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers. After the war, he continued as an aide to Churchill, before entering parliament in 1922, and led the Liberal Party from 1935 to 1945. He was appointed Secretary of State for Air by Churchill in 1940, and was the all-important link between the RAF top brass and Churchill. He became Viscount Thurso, of Ulbster in Churchill's first honours list of the 1952 Conservative government.

Returning now to the locomotives; under their 'air-smoothed' exterior they had many unconventional features, designed to reduce maintenance costs and overall weight. Some features proved troublesome and in 1957 a programme of rebuilding the locomotives along conventional lines was started. The rebuilding of the light pacifics added several tons to their weight, but produced, to all intents, brand-new locomotives, whilst retaining the distinctive light-weight Bulleid-Firth-Brown wheels and Bulleid's superb free-steaming boiler, along with many other of the more successful design features. Not all of the light pacifics were rebuilt, not least because the rebuilt locomotives were unable to be used on some lines due to the increased weight, but 34059 was amongst those rebuilt, in 1960.

Rescued from Barry scrapyard in 1979 without a tender, this locomotive has since then been the subject of ongoing restoration work and fundraising. A tender underframe was salvaged from a steel-works, the original intention being to use this in conjunction with a new body. However this underframe was in poor condition, and in the end only some fittings from it were used, with the tender frames being constructed at Sheffield Park from new material. A new tender body has been made, and placed on it.

Sir Archibald Sinclair on 300 Club members train - 21 April 2009 - Andrew Strongitharm 34059 "Sir Archibald Sinclair" returned to service in April 2009, after restoration from Barry Scrapyard condition (Andrew Strongitharm)

The formal launch into Bluebell service, as the first rebuilt Battle of Britain to steam in preservation, performed by Viscount Thurso (grandson of Sir Archibald Sinclair, who was the wartime Secretary of State for Air from 1940) on 24th April 2009. Regretably, the loco was withdrawn during October 2011, in need of further firebox repairs, as per the notice at the top of this page.

See also:


Class: Battle of Britain (Rebuilt)
Wheels: 4-6-2 (Pacific)
Class Introduced: 1957
Built: 1947, Brighton, Rebuilt: 1960, Eastleigh
Purpose: Mixed traffic
Total number built: 110 (60 rebuilt)
Numbers carried: 21C159, 34059
Withdrawn: 1966

Length: 67ft 4 3/4 in
Weight: Engine 90 Tons 1cwt, Tender 42 Tons approx.
Water capacity: 5,250 Gallons
Coal capacity: 5 Tons
Boiler Pressure: 250 lb/sq.in
Driving Wheels: 6ft 2in diameter
Cylinders: (3) 16 3/8" x 24"
Tractive Effort: 27,715 lbs
BR power classification: 7P6F

Arrived on Bluebell Railway: 28 October 1979
Owner: Bluebell Railway
Restored to service: April 2009
Last operational: October 2011
Current Status: Dismantled for firebox repairs
Further Web Pages: provided by the Bulleid Society


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