Icons of Steam today announced that its rebuilt West Country class 34046 Braunton will be returning to steam in April but will be renamed as 34052 Lord Dowding. This technically means she will become a member of the Battle of Britain class with Lord Dowding being named after the Second World War Royal Air Force Air Chief Marshall. Icons of Steam have decided to specially renamed the engine to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Built in December 1946, Lord Dowding was one of the first members of the ‘Battle of Britain’ class. Identical in all but name to the ‘West Country’ class, the Southern Railway decided to name the class after squadrons, airfields, commanders and aircraft that had participated in the Battle of Britain.
Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding was an officer in the Royal Air Force. He served as a fighter pilot in the First World War and in the Second World War was the Commanding Officer of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. He was credited for playing a key role in the defeating Hitler’s plan to invade Britain.The locomotive like all Bulleid’s were originally built with ‘air-smoothed’ casing, we see Lord Dowding today as she was after being rebuilt in September 1958, with outside Walschaerts valve gear and with pipework fully exposed. During her career Lord Dowding was used on both passenger and freight trains across the Southern region before being retired in July 1967, one of the last steam engines to be retired by British Railways.
After retirement she was sent to Barry Scrapyard in South Wales where she was, sadly, not saved for preservation. We are now delighted to offer Lord Dowding a second incarnation, particularly now in memory of ‘The Few’.
For me this is a great move by Icons of Steam as they will help commemorate a significant anniversary of the RAFs finest hour and also give enthusiasts the chance to capture photos of a locomotive that is sadly no longer with us even if Braunton in disguise.
Until then thanks for reading.