Welcome to Locoyard’s Model of the Week Blog Post! This week we look at one of the largest and most powerful prototype’s in the collection – Merchant Navy class 35027 Port Line. So without further ado, let’s look at the history of the locomotive this model represents.
Port Line began life looking very different. Originally the Merchant Navy class were built to an unorthodox design by Chief Mechanical Engineer OVS Bulleid. The most obvious visual difference being that it had air-smoothed casing, used to make cleaning easier, but lead to it being difficult to maintain. Although the class were introduced in 1941 by the Southern Railway, 35027 was never a Southern machine and emerged from Eastleigh works in December 1948 as a British Railways machine.
The three cylinder design was rated as 8P by BR, who soon found that despite being an excellent steaming engine with a very impressive boiler, it’s unorthodox features; particularly the enclosed motion in an oil bath proved unreliable. From 1955, BR began rebuilding the class into a more reliable locomotive, that looked far more conventional!
35027 was rebuilt in 1957 which amongst other things, gave it a lower boiler pressure, Walschaerts valve gear, multiple-jet blastpipe, a large diameter chimney and removal of the air smoothed casing.
35027 spent much of it’s working life shedded in Bournemouth. The locomotive has one claim to fame – in 1959 it hauled the Royal Train from Windsor to Hamworthy Junction. Port line was withdrawn in 1966 from Weymouth engine shed.
35027 was one of eleven members of the class to survive into preservation and one of a few that has steamed since. However, it spent a large amount of time in Woodhams scrapyard, Barry where it rusted away until being purchased in 1982.
Port Line was based on the Swanage Line for some time and had a spell on the Bluebell Railway (click here to read more) who found the locomotive too powerful and uneconomic for their needs. This not a bad trait of the class but a simple fact that a powerful 8P classified locomotive is over-kill for a 25mph speed- limited preserved railway!
35027 is currently under overhaul at the East Lancashire Railway, having being purchased by Jeremy Hoskins in 2004 and then transferred to the Royal Scot Locomotive and General Trust (RSL>) in 2011.
Hornby’s model is a good representation of the type (click here for its’ review) and quite cheap and easy to get hold of. It does not run that often on the layout, as it’s size is a bit overwhelming due to the lack of space! That said, it is a model I am glad to have. The model started life as a different member of the class but was re-named and numbered – click here to read more.