As with most visits to the Bluebell Railway, last Sunday proved to be an absolute Southern Railway delight! Working alongside S15 class 847 was U class 1638, another machine owned by the Maunsell Locomotive Society. The locomotive is in it’s final year of operation, with its’ ten year boiler certificate coming to an end soon. As can be seen from these pictures, 1638 was hauling the Bluebell Line’s Golden Arrow service, hence the regalia.
1638 is one of the many British Steam locomotives that were rescued from Woodhams scrapyard, Barry. It is one of two U class types to be found on the Bluebell railway. The other (1618) is on display in the locomotive shed, awaiting its turn to be overhauled.
The Bluebell Railway’s two machines have both worn Southern Railway olive green livery in preservation in contrast to the other three Maunsell moguls that have worn BR black livery. All three of these are now based on the Swanage Railway, having previously run on the Watercress Line.
Four out of the five Maunsell mogul survivors are examples of the U class. Mainly used for passenger work, 50 U class locomotives were built or converted from the K class (click here to read more.) Interestingly the numerically greater N class (80 were built,) is now the only example of its kind, making up the fifth Maunsell mogul survivor.
It was good to see 1638 in action again and although it is coming to the end of its reign, it still very much looks the part! If you would like to read more about this particular visit to the Bluebell Railway, please click here.