34007 Wadebridge, 'West Country' Class
Photographed at Ropley MPD, Mid-Hants Railway, on 12 February 2009.
Designed by O.V.S. Bulleid, Chief Mechanical Engineer for the Southern Railway, and built at Brighton in 1945 as one of the first batch of "West Country" class 4-6-2 mixed traffic locomotives, a smaller version of his "Merchant Navy" express passenger locomotive, leaving the works in August as 21C107. She is the oldest surviving "West Country" class locomotive.
Allocated from new to Exmouth Junction shed, her early years were spent in the West Country (as 34007 from March 1949 after nationalisation), until 11th April 1951 when she moved to Nine Elms, the shed for Waterloo, at which time she was re-painted in standard BR Brunswick Green and her cab modified to wedge-shaped. Whilst at Nine Elms she operated mainly on the old LSWR tracks to Bournemouth, Weymouth and Salisbury, frequently to be seen on Ocean Liner special trains, and was even known to have worked "The Royal Wessex" - a Merchant Navy preserve!
14th September 1964 saw her transferred to Salisbury shed for her final few months. On 7th October 1965 she was sold to Woodhams scrapyard in South Wales, having escaped the BR rebuilding that was the fate of many of her class (and, incidentally, added 4 tons to the weight thus barring the locomotives from the North Devon and Cornwall lines). First bought by the Plym Valley Railway in 1981, Wadebridge was then sold to a group of enthusiasts who had formed a small company, Wadebridge (34007) Locomotive Ltd., with the sole aim of restoring her to traffic. The rolling chassis was moved to the workshops at Bodmin General station on 1st December 2001, where the rebuilding was completed. The boiler was moved down in October 2003 and was replaced on the frames in November 2003. 30th August 2006 saw a milestone event in the restoration with a successful steam test of the boiler and fittings taking place. On Sunday, 29th October 2006 the locomotive hauled a special train of invited guests to mark her renaming ceremony at Bodmin General station that afternoon with the unveiling of her new nameplates performed jointly by the mayors of Bodmin and Wadebridge, Cllr Lance Kennedy and Cllr Nick Saunders.
At the Mid-Hants Railway some inflammable material was left on the footplate overnight, with the engine in light steam, leading to the unfortunate events of 31st December 2007 when the material caught fire and destroyed the cab. The damage was severe but was covered by the Mid-Hants Railway's insurance so repairs were effected as soon as possible.
Picture added on 28 February 2009