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South Eastern Railway O1-class No. 65

O1-Class No.65 at the SECR Centenary Gala - Jon Horrocks - 1999

No.65 at the head of a pre-grouping train of SECR and LBSCR coaches at the SECR Centenary Gala
in August 1999 just two days after its re-launch into public service (© Jon Horrocks)

O1 and C on freight train - Peter Edwards - 15 March 2000
Built in 1896 at Ashford as a Stirling "O" class locomotive, it received a rebuild to class "O1" in 1908, and ran on until finally withdrawn in 1961. No. 65 was one of the class that ran with an LCDR tender for a while. According to Bradley, this was from M-class 4-4-0 No. 617, between 1914 and 1925.

Its shed allocations under BR are believed to have been:
      January 1948 - Dover Marine
      March 1950 - Ramsgate
      July 1951 - Ashford
      June 1954 - Dover Marine
It was frequently also used on the Kent & East Sussex Railway during the 1950s, including (along with Terrier 32655 'Stepney') the final timetabled passenger service on 2 January 1954 (Photo here), after which the only traffic was Hop Pickers Specials and goods trains. 31065 also assisted with the demolition of the section of the K&ESR north of Tenterden.

Just a couple of weeks before withdrawal, on 11 June 1961 it, along with C-class 31592 (also now on the Bluebell), hauled the final railtour (organised by the Locomotive Club of Great Britain) over the Hawkhurst branch. The Bluebell's Hastings Maunsell Brake Third No. 3687 was also on the train.

In 1963 it was obtained by the late Mr Lewis-Evans and kept at Ashford Steam Centre until its closure. Thereafter its location was something of a mystery until it was brought to the Bluebell Railway for overhaul, and was returned to steam for the centenary of the amalgamation of the SER and the LCDR in August 1999.

0-6-0s were the commonest locomotives in this country, and the Bluebell now hosts a sequence of three unique survivors of this type, demonstrating their development through the first half of the 20th century, from the O1 through the SECR C-class to Maunsell's Q-class built by the Southern Railway.

No.65 on Footplate Taster Experience duty - John Sandys - 3 February 2023

Following its return to steam in 1999, it operated for a decade. Subsequently, the Bluebell's spare O1/H boiler has been overhauled at The Flour Mill workshop, and was fitted in place of its previous boiler during the subsequent overhaul, which took place at Sheffield Park. Returning to steam in July 2017, it was on loan to us for the duration of its current boiler certificate, but then in December 2021 the opportunity presented itself for the Bluebell Railway Trust to obtain the locomotive from the owning family.

The photograph above right (© Peter Edwards) shows it double-heading with SECR C-class locomotive No. 592 on 15 March 2000, and the one to the left (© John Sandys) shows No. 65 on Footplate Taster Experience duty on 3 February 2023.

The historic photo below shows it as Southern A65 at Ashford shed on 11 February 1934 (© Kenneth Nichols).

A65 at Ashford shed - 11 February 1934 - Kenneth Nichols

65 approaches Horsted Keyes with pre-grouping carriages - David Cable - 26 February 2022

Articles about its history before preservation, and its acquisition by the Bluebell Trust are included in the February 2022 edition of Bluebell Times, with details of its preservation career in the the March 2022 edition.

See also: The O1 and Wainwright Interest Group's Web page for this Locomotive or their 65 Picture Gallery.
Further photos of the restored loco are available on Jon Horrocks Flickr site,
        Derek Hayward's web site, and
        the Villa Team's Loco Photo Archive page for No.65.

Right: No. 65 approaches Horsted Keyes with a train of pre-grouping carriages on 26 February 2022 (© David Cable).

O-Class in original form
Class: O1
Wheels: 0-6-0
Class Introduced: 1878 (O1 rebuilds introduced in 1903)
Designer: Patrick Stirling
Built: O-class, September 1896 at Ashford Works, SER
Rebuilt: O1-class, March-September 1908
Purpose: Goods
Total number built: 59 rebuilt as O1 (out of a total of 122 O-class)
Numbers carried: 65, A65, 1065, 31065
Withdrawn from BR service: 24 June 1961
Preserved: 1963
Arrived on Bluebell Railway: 1997 *
Previously period of operation: 5 August 1999 to 7 July 2009
Returned to service: 15 July 2017 (with the Bluebell's spare boiler)
Current status: Available for service

Above right: The original form of the O-class, with Stirling's domeless boiler and rounded cab.

65 at the 2023 Branch Line Gala - David Cable - 21 April 2023
Length: 47ft 6in overall
Weight: 66 Tons 10 cwt (as against 65 Tons for O-class)
Water capacity: 2,000 Gallons
Coal capacity: 2 Tons 15 cwt
Boiler Pressure: 150 lb/ (140 for O-class)
Driving Wheels: 5ft 2in diameter
Cylinders: (2, inside) 18" x 26"
Tractive Effort: 17,320 lbs (16,170 for O-class)
Valve gear: Stephenson
Engine brake: Vacuum
BR power classification: 2F, later 2FB **

Owner: The Bluebell Railway Trust

* The locomotive's chassis and tender were delivered to Sheffield Park on 21 June 1997, and the boiler followed on 1 September that year.

** Quoted as 2F in various Ian Allen ABCs from 1955 to 1960, and photographic evidence. 31065 as withdrawn had 2FB painted on cab-side (the B relating to the braking capability).

Above right: 65 during its second Bluebell boiler certificate, at Three Arch Bridge - David Cable - 21 April 2023

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