This week’s model star is S&DJR 7F 88, a distinctive, big blue locomotive and a favourite in the Locoyard collection. It is a relatively elderly locomotive, with an interesting tale to tell…The Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR) has always had a fascinating appeal to railway enthusiasts. Over the course of it’s history, the line’s mix of owners and changing regions lead to it being served by a many different locomotives. At the time of the 7F classes design in the early twentieth century, the railway was in joint ownership between the LSWR and the Midland Railway – the later being in charge of motive power. Unlike the Midland Railway, the S&DJR was heavily graded and required something bigger than the 0-6-0’s of it’s time to pull the heavy mineral traffic from the Mendip Hills. At first an 0-8-0 was mooted, but that would have resulted in locomotive too heavy for the line; so a pony truck at the front of the engine was added to the design specification to distribute weight. The 7F 2-8-0’s distinctive look’s also came from a Belpaire firebox, outside Walschaerts valve gear and high mounted cylinders, installed to prevent fouling of platforms.
The locomotive’s proved to be a success on the Mendip Hills of Somerset, but trials on coal trains in the East Midlands were not so. The type therefore remained unique to the S&DJR. 88 was one of the second batch of 7F 2-8-0’s and built in 1925 by Robert Stephenson and Company. Detail difference include having a larger boiler than the those of the first batch (a G9BS rather than a G9AS), although this was replaced in 1955; and it was left-hand drive rather than right hand-drive.
The 7F’s were absorbed into the LMS fleet and 88 was renumbered 9668 in 1930 and then 13808 in 1932. The LMS added sanding gear to the type and took away their pony truck brakes. At nationalisation, the locomotive was renumbered as British Railways 53808. As the mineral traffic was reduced as a result of competing lorries, the 7F’s were pressed into hauling holiday makers heading for the Dorset coast.
Withdrawn in 1964, 88 was sold for scrap at Dai Woodham at Barry, which proved to be fortunate move. Although the brass and brass fittings were stripped, the locomotive survived to be purchased in 1969. Restoration took until 1987 when 88 returned to service. Owned by the Somerset and Dorset Railway trust and based on the West Somerset Railway and has had one overhaul since 1987, the latest being completed in 2005.
This model is an excellent performer (click here to read the review) and is a regular on the locoyard roster. Links to other model of the week articles can be found in the Loco Model Page (click here to see more). Thanks for reading folks 🙂