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Southern Railway "USA" class No. 30064

This locomotive is no longer based on or owned by the Bluebell Railway.

USA Tank 30064

Photo courtesy of Lewis Nodes, from 1976.

USA tank and uniformed staff and visitors - Jon Bowers - May 2003
Originally designed by the United States Army Transportation Corps, this locomotive provides an interesting contrast with the rest of the fleet as an example of North American engineering practice with the principal feature being cast steel bar main-frames. One of a large batch of shunting locos intended to operate Europe's railways after the Allied invasion (together with British-designed Austerity locos), it was one of those found not to be needed abroad and remained in Britain. They were delivered in black livery with USATC lettering, but a photo of the loco at Newbury Racecourse, dated 15 March 1947, shows it in grey livery as WD 1959.

Of the surplus locomotives, fifteen were sold off to the SR who required replacements for the B4s (see 30096) which were used to shunt Southampton Docks. The first one was purchased and trialled in 1946, while the remainder were purchased and entered SR service in 1947. A total of fourteen entered service, modified for British usage at Eastleigh Works. SR 64 entered service in June 1947 and was to be found at Southampton Docks in September 1947. After a short time in service, several further modifications were carried out to the locos.

Right: For the 1940's event held in May 2003, the loco was repainted into wartime livery as WD 1959 (Jon Bowers)

Below: 30064 shunting at Sheffield Park on 13 September 1981 (Late Ray Vistucis)

30064 shunting at Sheffield Park - Ray Vistucis - 13 September 1981
Although they were very successful in service, the steel fireboxes deteriorated rapidly, largely due to the untreated local water supply resulting in a number of locos being out of service or restricted during 1951. The fireboxes were replaced and they all continued in service. To enable their more efficient use in the docks area, some of the class were fitted with radio telephones, turbo generators and aerials from 1957. Following the introduction of class 07 diesel shunters at Southampton in 1962, one was withdrawn, six were transferred to departmental service while the remainder were used as shed pilots (loco-shed shunters).

30064 became the Eastleigh Works shunter from June 1963. In February 1964, it was outshopped in malachite green livery, one of several chosen to be so treated and was temporarily transferred to Guildford shed. Here it worked part of a RCTS/LCGB rail tour. Returning to Eastleigh, it late worked a rail tour in March 1966 with sister engine 30073.

In August 1966, 30064 became Western Region stock when reallocated to Meldon Quarry. It gained the distinction of being the WR's last active steam locomotive, but in October 1966 was then moved back to the Southern Region as Works Shunter at Eastleigh.

On withdrawal at the end of SR steam in July 1967, it was sold from store at Salisbury shed in January 1968 to the Southern Loco Preservation Co. Ltd. and, after several years in Hampshire (at Droxford, Fareham and Liss), came to the Bluebell Railway along with the other SLP Co. stock in late 1971. It arrived repainted in the same Malachite Green it had been in a few years earlier, but without crests, and put into Bluebell Service a month later. It finallly aquired the BR crest around a year before being withdrawn from Bluebell service.

Following a number of years in use on the Bluebell, it was stored awaiting major boiler work. All this SLP stock was transfered into Bluebell Railway ownership in the 1980s.

It left the Bluebell on 27 June 2022, having been sold on to a new owner who was in a position to restore the locomotive to operational condition over the following 5-6 years, and we then hope to see the locomotive return to run on the Bluebell at times.

At Salisbury in 1967 - Nigel Kendall
30064 lying withdrawn in Salisbury shed yard, together with classmate 30072, in August 1967.
Photo © Nigel Kendall.

Vintage film footage on YouTube of SR 'USA' class locos in action, including many shots of 30064.

Class: USA
Wheels: 0-6-0T
Class Introduced: 1946 on SR
Designer: US Army Transport Corps
Built: 1943, Vulcan Iron Works, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Works No.: 4432
Purpose: Shunting/Switching
Total number built: Unknown
Number bought by SR: 15 (14 entered traffic)
Numbers carried: USATC 1959, SR 64 (as of 22.6.1947), BR S64, later 30064

Withdrawn: July 1967
Preserved: January 1968
Arrived on Bluebell Railway: 24 October 1971
Entered Bluebell service: 20 November 1971
Last operational: Late 1984
Left Bluebell: 27 June 2022

Length: 29ft 8ins
Weight: 46 Tons 10 cwt
Water capacity: 1,200 US Gallons
Coal capacity: 1 Ton 10 cwt
Boiler Pressure: 210 lb/
Driving Wheels: 4ft 6in
Cylinders: (2, outside) 16.5" x 24"
Tractive Effort: 21,600 lbs
Engine Brake: Steam
BR power classification: 3F

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