Tender 3116

Good evening, today I am writing about something rather different. Instead of focusing on a steam locomotive I will be looking at a tender, in particular tender 3116.

Tender 3116

Tender 3116 was one of the first series of 5,000 gallon Bulleid tenders built at Ashford works. It entered service in December 1942 behind 21C6, later named Peninsular and Oriental S. N. Co. She was fitted to this one locomotive her entire Southern and British Railways career. She held 5 tons of coal in a self-trimming bunker, had a double-framed chassis with six 3ft 7ins Bulleid-Firth-Brown wheels, three top mounted vacuum reservoir cylinders, cab steps and a water capacity plate. My knowledge on tenders is not the best, however A J Fry wrote a brief article on the first series of Bulleid Merchant Navy tenders for the Southern E-Group

Based on Maunsell tenders, the frames were outwardly almost identical to those of the “Schools” class tenders. Both front and back ends of these first tenders were soon modified although the basic design remained. The front was connected to the engine’s cab with flexible sheeting. On 3111 and 2 the coal bunker filled the width of the tender and on all of them the bunker was hidden from view by the raves. These raves ran level with the top of the cab, hiding the coal bunker, then behind the bunker were cut down slightly. The well to the tank had a strainer fitted to ensure almost particle free water for the injectors, but as the only access to the strainer was from inside the tank it was a major task, to clean the filters, involving draining the tank.

The rear of the first three tenders had three footsteps and two short handrails with a two-rung ladder fixed to the right-hand side of the buffer beam. 3114 onwards had twin tubular steel three rung ladders in place of the footsteps and hand rails, although these themselves varied in design between tenders! After the war the raves were cut down by some 1 ft 8 in to just 4 in which required new, shorter, ladders being installed of the same type as fitted to the “Q1” class tenders. When the twin ladders were installed the single, two-step, ladders were removed and replaced with two that were suspended, one beneath each buffer, at right angles to the buffer beam. From the mid-fifties BR moved these to a postion behind the buffer beam. In addition to the normal water filler, two smaller dome-shaped ones were fitted to enable the water tank to be filled without the need for clambering on top of the tender, but these made it difficult for shutting off the water in time to avoid the crew being soaked and tended to send water cascading onto the footplate under heavy braking so were removed in the early 1950s.

On the front of the tender were two hooks labelled “Helmet” for the crew’s wartime steel helmets and behind the front water fillers canvas blackout sheets were fitted that could be pulled forward over the cab entrances which, from 3113 onwards, were replaced by slides. The driver and fireman were each supplied with a locker, although the fireman’s was smaller in order not to foul the handbrake.

One of the biggest problems with these early tenders was caused by the need to save weight resulting in thin welded sheet being used, which was not as strong as the normal, rivetted, sheet used previously. Tenders could be seen to bulge, and the welds would split, so during 1944 and 5 strengthening was carried out. Starting from 1956 eight of the tenders had their raves further cut down by BR but 3115 and 3117 were in such poor condition that their tanks were scrapped and replaced by one of BR’s own design (3115 had been previously altered in 1948 when it was fitted with a mechanical stoker and paired with 35005 Canadian Pacific). 3111 was fitted with TIA water treatment, the tank for which was in the right-hand corner of the tender. This led to the three vacuum cylinders being stacked in a pyramid shape, banded as in Southern Railway days. (When the BR water treatment system was subsequently installed, the vacuum cylinders were fully covered and positioned behind the coal bunker, offset to the left.) Then, between 1959 and 1963, five tenders, 3111/2/5/7/8 were fitted with new bodies that still held 5 tons of coal but had an increase in water capacity to 5,250 gallons.

A J Fry

Bulleid Power : Merchant Navy

When 35006 P&O was withdrawn from service she was sold with her tender for scrap and taken to the famous Barry Island scrapyard. However it was here that 3116 and 35006 went their separate ways with the tender leaving Barry Island in 1982 when she was sold to join up with the tenderless 35027 Port Line. In 1988 both tender and engine were fully restored and based at the famous Bluebell railway until 2000 where it became a popular attraction, its last working on the Bluebell came in 1996. Port Line and 3116 then moved to the Swanage Railway in early 2000, further boiler work allowing it to operate a limited number of steamings from November 2000 until October 2003, when it was stopped with firebox cracks.

Dave captured 35027 Port Line pulling out of Sheffield Park station in 1995

Her owners the Southern Locomotives Ltd decided to sell Port Line in 2004 to Jeremy Hoskins who moved the locomotive to his Southall base. She is currently awaiting her turn in the overhaul queue at the East Lancashire Railway. 3116s overhaul was a far higher priority than her steam locomotive companion and she reappeared in service in 2007 behind the newly restored West Country class 34046 Braunton. 34046s own tender was scrapped and her newly constructed tender was not ready when Braunton entered service so 3116 was substituted in. After 4 years with Braunton 3116 was replaced by Braunton’s new build tender, however it wasnt long before she was on the move again when Port Line and Canadian Pacific swapped tenders. Canadian Pacific had a larger tender which was better for Port Lines future mainline career and the Mid Hants needed a tender to get straight into service behind Wadebridge. This is the reason why Wadebridge and her tender are different shades of green as they were not painted together and the tenders paint has been sun bleached due its age. She will eventually go into service behind Canadian Pacific but for the time being she’s earning her living feeding a different beast. (Speaking of which the Mid Hants posted the offical update blog on the work carried out on here which can be found here.)

I hope you enjoyed this look at something a bit different.

Thanks for reading.


Before we can start restoring Canadian Pacific to run with 3116 we need to raise the funds.  This is where we still need your help. As I have mentioned before the boiler work is alone expect to exceed £100,000 so anything you can give will be gratefully appreciated no matter how small you think it might be.

Please click here to contribute towards the fund via secure online payment.

Download the appeal form.

Both links take you to the Mid Hants Railway Website which is where you can find out more information on how you can help.  Thank you.


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