A celebration of either the preservation or history of the Kent and East Sussex Railway (K&ESR) would never be complete without at least one ex-London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR) terrier and the fortieth anniversary was no exception. Only one of the railway’s two terrier tanks was in action and luckily for me it was one I had never seen in action before. Although I grew up near the K&ESR, I never saw this locomotive in action as I had moved away before it was steamed in 2001.
That said, this is by no means the first time I’ve looked at terrier tank engines on this blog! I have several models of the type in the locoyard model collection and if pressed they would be the class I would call my “favourite”. This is partly because I saw them regularly at both the K&ESR and Bluebell railways, partly because they are so old with interesting histories and definitely because they are full of character!
Being small, lightweight and with a rapid rate of acceleration, the class soon earned the nickname “terrier” (also attributed their unusual “bark” or sound when chuffing.) Although widely associated with small branch lines which they served through most of their life, they were originally intended to work London’s suburban routes of the LBSCR. Built to be light yet powerful they differed from many other tank engine designs built for shunting in mind. The London routes soon developed and traffic exceeded the locomotive’s capacity, but the coming of the light railways act of 1896 ushered in a demand for cheap, light and sprightly steam engines. The second-hand LBSCR terrier tank fitted the bill perfectly.
This locomotive was one of the last of its class to be built and is “only” 134 years old! Built in 1880 as number 78 Knowle, the locomotive had amassed a mileage of nearly a million miles before it was absorbed into the newly formed Southern railway in 1923. In the 1930’s it spent time on the Isle of Wight as number 14 Bembridge before being returned in 1936, renumbered 2678 and working the Hayling Island Branch until 1940. It was from this date until hauling the railway’s last passenger train train in 1954 (with 32655, the Bluebell Line’s famous 55 Stepney) that it was primarily based on the K&ESR, on long-term loan. After 1948 it had been renumbered as British Railways 32678. After working on the K&ESR it was transferred back to the Hayling Island branch line until withdrawal in 1964.
With its long association with the railway, particularly in hauling it’s last train before closure by British Railways, it was very fitting for it to be running during the gala. The railway’s other terrier, 1872 built 32670 (3 Bodiam), has a locomotive with an even longer association with the line, but was not available for service. Both of these locomotives are owned and operated by the Terrier Trust.
Whilst at Tenterden, I witnessed the Terrier Trust being presented a cheque by “Talking of Trains” of Surbiton of £700. This sum came from late Gerry Siviour’s funeral collection, a gentleman who used to lecture at Talking of Trains. The total collection from his memory is a remarkable £1200 now. More of this can be read here.
My wife and I took the last round trip of the day on the Saturday behind 32678, in a South East and Chatham Railway “Birdcage” carriage. This is part of a vintage set of carriages, which I hope to look at in a little more detail at a later date.
This is the final post looking at the locomotives that ran on the Kent and East Sussex Railway’s gala (click here to read the others). I’ve enjoyed looking at the history of these locomotives and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them!