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Bulleid Society


Southern Railway Bulleid "West Country Pacific"
21C123 'Blackmoor Vale', built in 1946

Blackmore or Blackmoor Vale?

21C123 during its first period of service on the Bluebell Railway, in the late 1970s - Mike Esau

Bulleid's Light Pacifics were revolutionary in many respects, and brought a great enhancement of available power to lightly laid West Country lines which hitherto had been unable to accept the more modern Southern Railway express locos. Many Bulleid Pacifics are preserved thanks to Barry scrapyard, but "Blackmoor Vale" came to the Bluebell via initial preservation at Longmoor, having been one of the last Bulleid Pacifics running on BR. 21C123 is owned by the Bulleid Society. Unlike many of its classmates, it was not rebuilt, retaining Bulleid's "Air-smoothed" casing and oil-bath-enclosed valve gear.

Having operated for a decade, following restoration in 1976, the locomotive was recommissioned for a second time, on 19th August 2000, following a comprehensive overhaul.

Blackmore Vale in 1966 Right: 34023 "Blackmore Vale" crosses over to the down line at New Milton during single track working on 29th October 1966.
Photo © Nigel Kendall - See his Flickr site. Full size picture here.

At different times in the locomotive's history it was named 'Blackmoor Vale' and 'Blackmore Vale'. These are both, it appears, valid spellings of the vale which runs between Somerset and Dorset.

The locomotive was completed at Brighton in February 1946, receiving the name "Blackmoor Vale" in August 1947. It was renumbered 34023 in April 1948, and then repainted in April 1950 at which time it received "Blackmore Vale" nameplates, which it retained apart from a short spell in 1963 when it carried, on one side only, an unofficial "O.V.Bulleid" nameplate!

In preservation the 1950 nameplates have been removed for safe-keeping, and the locomotive has carried replica plates as "Blackmoor Vale", correct for the Southern Malachite livery.

Blackmore Vale in 1966 Left: The fireman of a begrimed 34023 "Blackmore Vale" takes the token from New Milton signalman Len Simpson during single line working to Sway on 25th March 1966.

Photo © Nigel Kendall

The single line working was as a result of work (track simplification) in conjunction with the Bournemouth electrification. Both New Milton and Sway signal boxes were subsequently abolished and the line from Lymington Jct to Christchurch worked using Track Circuit Block (TCB) with 2 aspect automatic signals.

Blackmore Vale in 1965 Right: The young driver studies the trackwork as 34023 "Blackmore Vale" inches away from New Milton with a down semi fast from Waterloo; 16th July 1965.

Photo © Nigel Kendall


Below: 34023 "Blackmore Vale" draws into New Milton with a Bournemouth-bound semi fast from Waterloo. The date is 2nd September 1966.

Photo © Nigel Kendall

Blackmore Vale in 1966 Numbers and names carried: 21C123 "Blackmoor Vale", 34023 "Blackmore Vale"
Built: February 1946 at Brighton Works, Southern Railway
Class: Light Pacific (West Country/Battle of Britain)
Wheels: 4-6-2
Class Introduced: 1945
Designer: O.V.S. Bulleid
Purpose: Main Line Passenger and Mixed Traffic
Total number built: 110
Withdrawn from BR service: July 1967
Arrived on Bluebell Railway: 29 September 1971
Owner: The Bulleid Society

Current status: Static display, awaiting overhaul.
Last major overhaul: 2000
Last operational: 25 May 2008
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Length: 44 ft 2 3/4 in (engine) and 23 ft 2 in (tender) - i.e. 67 ft 4 3/4 in overall
Weight: engine - 86 tons, tender - 42 tons 12 cwt
Water capacity: 4,500 gallons
Coal capacity: 5 tons
Boiler pressure: 250 lb/ (originally 280)
Driving wheels: 6 ft 2 in diameter
Bogie & trailing wheels: 3 ft 1 in diameter
Cylinders: (3) 16 3/8 in x 24 in
Tractive effort: 27,720 lbs (originally 31,050 lbs)
BR power classification: January 1949: 6MT
                                       December 1953: 7P5F
                                       November 1957: 7P6F

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