Tangmere is a small village in Sussex a mile or so east of Chichester, Nearby, in the Second World War there was a Royal Air Force base – RAF Tangmere.

But sorry, folks, this post is actually about a steam engine and here it is.


It’s an unusual looking loco and is seen here passing close by my house a few days ago.

Tangmere was built during World War II and it seemed appropriate to name the engines after people and places significant during the Battle of Britain. As a result this class of engines was called the Battle of Britain (or BB for short) class. They are virtually indistinguishable from engines called the West Country (WC for short) class. This particular engine was called Tangmere.

They look unusual and they were unusual in many aspects of their design. Oliver Bullied was responsible for these engines and he had trained under Nigel Gresley who designed such famous locos as Flying Scotsman and Mallard. But Mr Bullied was working under wartime constraints which dictated that express passenger locos were not to be built. The engines were supposed to be just as handy with a heavy goods train. All sorts of innovations were dreamed up to save weight (and therefore metal). The wheels were not spoked. Bullied came up with a lighter style. The mechanism for opening and closing valves to let steam in and out of the cylinders was chain driven. And for a touch of ‘glamour’ the boiler cladding was described as ‘air smoothed’ although many people called these engines spam cans.

I note that in my 1962 shed directory this loco was based at Salisbury so it was in its one time home county as it rushed by on my local line.

Many of these locos were rebuilt to look more conventional and also to change that chain driven valve gear – a good idea which suffered from oil baths which leaked oil onto rails causing engine wheels to fail to grip the track. In either form some survived to the end of mainline steam in the south in the summer of 1967.


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One Response to “Tangmere”

  1. sed30 Says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog and commented:
    A lovely engine – the unrebuilt Bullied pacifics are one of my favs

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