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London & South Western Railway Adams "Radial Tank" 488

Adams Radial Tank
Mike Esau

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. The re-created "stove-pipe" chimney completes the 19th century look.

Class: 415
Wheels: 4-4-2T
Built: 1885
Numbers carried: 488, 0488, EKR 5, 3488, 30583
Last major overhaul: 1985
Last operational: 1990
Current status: Static display, awaiting major boiler work.

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.

No.488 was chosen by the Bluebell since, out of the three, it was closest to original condition at the time of withdrawal, having an original Adams boiler. Following several spells in traffic over the next 30 years on the Bluebell it is the boiler which is now preventing this fine Victorian engine from steaming. It will probably require a complete new boiler barrel before it can work again, but one of our volunteer groups has it in mind as a project for the medium-term future.

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Last Update 10 June 1999 by Richard Salmon.
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