Posts Tagged ‘pacific’


March 25, 2015

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.


Sir Nigel pays a visit.

April 26, 2013

Yes, it is time for another steam train here. This is one of the steam specials which come through on my most local railway line every now and again. In fact this one was back on 3rd July 2008.

Sir Nigel Gresley was a very famous locomotive engineer. Before 1923 he designed engines for the Great Northern Railway but when the government decided that the dozens of companies should be merged into four, Nigel got the job designing the stock for the whole London and North Eastern Railway which served all of Eastern England and up into Scotland as well.

Amongst Sir Nigel’s very famous engines there is Flying Scotsman. This name was also used for a train running between London and Edinburgh but that loco still exists and has done main line tours locally.

Another one of Sir Nigel’s engines is Mallard. I always think of this as a strange name. Mallards are lovely waddly ducks. Mallard is the fastest steam engine ever. Ducks and engine seem poles apart. Mallard was one of a class of engines known as A4 pacifics. We train spotters often called them streaks. The streaks were Gresley’s streamlined engines for pulling prestige expresses. At some point one of them was named after him and it is this one that visited my local area.

Actually, I must have sneaked out of work for a short while, for this was taken at Pewsey.


There are things that pretty well give away that this is a heritage train rather than an old picture. The track is continuous welded rail laid on concrete sleepers for one thing and the engine sports a headlamp for another. But there we have a Mallard look-alike heading west.

Later in the day Sir Nigel returned and this time I was able to snap the loco on my most local embankment.


The engine was just coasting at the time but the fact that the photo was taken into the bright evening sky would have masked any steam.

Now a confession. These well-known locos are not by any means favourites of mine!