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London & South Western Railway No.488
Adams "Radial Tank" 4-4-2T Locomotive


Adams Radial Tank - Mike Esau - 7 September 1986

Mike Esau - 7 September 1986

No.488 is virtually in original condition, which is unusual for a loco of this age. Of the three locos that survived into the 1960s, 488 was the only one carrying an original pattern boiler, which is why it was selected for preservation by the Bluebell. The re-created "stove-pipe" chimney seen above completes the 19th century look.

Designed for the LSWR's inner suburban network, these locomotives were displaced by electrification, and the entire class were scrapped by 1927 with the exception of two which were retained to operate the Lyme Regis branch, where sharp curvature made the use of anything other than this class of loco impossible. Many other classes were tried, but they either couldn't cope with the heavy loaded holiday trains, or were too inflexible for the many curves. This particular loco though had been sold to the military during the first World War, and in 1919 was sold on to the privately run East Kent Railway. In 1946 it was bought by the Southern and overhauled to provide relief for the other two Lyme Regis engines, and the three operated the branch until 1960.

488 just after arrival on the Bluebell - Ian Nolan - 16 July 1961

 

On arrival at the Bluebell it initially ran in its BR black livery with the crest painted out and the numbers 488 applied, as seen in Ian Nolan's photo on the right, taken 4 days after the locomotive arrived.
488 stripped back for repainting - Ian Nolan - 11 February 1962

 

This second photo by Ian Nolan, taken in February 1962, shows the remnants of its last BR livery, revealed as the paint was stripped back for repainting into LSWR Drummond Green.

Nondescript Brake on incoming railtour - Ian Nolan - 1 April 1962

The railtour of 1 April 1962 which ran from London Bridge via Haywards Heath behind privately preserved GNR Saddle Tank No.1247 included two Nondescript Brakes. It is seen here arriving back at Horsted Keynes behind our Adams Radial Tank (1247 is on the rear) after its trip down to Sheffield Park. (Photo with thanks to and © Ian Nolan)

With an overhaul in 1971 contracted out to Swindon Works, it was a stalwart of the Bluebell's services through the 1970s and early 1980s, initially again painted in Drummond green. An approach from photographers resulted in a few months in BR lined black in 1982/3 (photo below) prior to an overhaul which saw it return to Adams' original pea green (as in the photo at the top of tis page)

30583 from the cover of Spring 1983 Bluebell News - photographer unrecorded It was thus very heavily used over its first 30 years on the Bluebell. Withdrawn in 1990, it is the boiler which now prevents this fine Victorian engine from steaming. It will probably require a complete new boiler barrel, and possibly new driving wheels and much other work before it can steam again.

In early 2019, with the livery it had worn for a third of a century getting rather thin in places, and to coincide with the visit of two other ex-LSWR locomotives in BR livery, it was again repainted into BR lined black livery.

There are many Bluebell members and volunteers who want to see it steam again, but the large amount of work required, and its relatively low power, have mitigated against its overhaul over the last three decades. However, with a growing fleet of lightweight Victorian carriages now in service, it could once more perform a useful role, so hopefully it will not be too many more years before the locomotive can again be put into working order.


488 as EKR5 at Shepherdswell - photographer unknown Right: 488 as EKR 5 during its time at Shepherdswell - photographer unknown

Class: 415
Wheels: 4-4-2T
Built: 1885
Numbers carried: 488, 0488, EKR 5, 3488, 30583
Arrived on Bluebell: 12 July 1961
Last major overhaul: 1985
Last operational: 1990
Current status: Static display, awaiting major boiler work
Owner: Bluebell Railway

Length: 38ft 8.5in overall
Water capacity: 1,200 Gallons
Coal capacity: 1 Ton
Boiler Pressure: 160 lb/sq.in
Driving Wheels: 5ft 7in diameter
Bogie and Radial Wheels: 3 ft diameter
Cylinders: (2, outside) 17.5" x 24"
Tractive Effort: 14,919 lbs
BR power classification: 1P

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