Three 1920s steam trains join Swanage Railway fleet

Bournemouth Echo: The SR U class No. 31806 on the Swanage Railway The SR U class No. 31806 on the Swanage Railway

SWANAGE Railway has bolstered its stock of locomotives.

It has signed a 25-year deal in a move that will see three classic 1920s Southern engines based on the Dorset heritage line – one of which ran in the Isle of Purbeck back in the 1950s.

The contract with Hamp-shire locomotive owner John Bunch covers three Southern Railway locomotives, with ‘U’ class No. 31806 set to arrive at Swanage and start work hauling trains on the award-winning relaid Purbeck Line in August.

The other two steam locomotives covered by the deal are complete and await overhaul before they can be used – the only surviving ‘N’ class, No. 31874 built in 1925, to be returned to traffic first and then ‘U’ class No. 31625, built in 1929, which will be the second of the two locomotives to be overhauled.

Swanage Railway Company chairman, Peter Sills, said: “These three classic 1920s Southern Railway steam loco-motives are highly appropriate for the Swanage Railway and will strengthen our existing locomotive fleet and provide an exciting balance of available motive power suiting the power and economy requirements of our developing line.

“No. 31806 used to run down to Corfe Castle and Swanage during the British Railways days of the 1950s and is the quintessential Southern Railway branch line locomotive.

“The three Southern Rail-way locomotives will give the Swanage Railway a balanced and exciting locomotive fleet – and complement the two 1940s Bullied Pacifics, a 1950s Standard Tank, the Victorian-designed Drummond M7 tank and a Great Western Railway tank locomotive which haul trains on the Purbeck line,” he added.

Numbers 31874 and 31625 are set to arrive on the Swanage Railway in late June or early July.

General manager Richard Jones added: “The ‘U’ and the ‘N’ locomotives offer a simple and efficient maintenance regime with a power classifi-cation, efficiency and econ-omy ideally suited to the Swanage Railway. The boiler and other components on the ‘U’ and the ‘N’ are also inter-changeable and will enable an efficient restoration.”

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