SECR P Class 323 Withdrawn from Service

Rail Report
Image result for SECR P Class 323
(C) Andy Lock LRPS
The Bluebell Railway's flagship locomotive SECR P Class No.323 'Bluebell' has been withdrawn from service today.

The locomotive was overhauled in March 2011 and has carried a Bluebell Railway livery and has traveled around heritage railway's representing the railway.

The locomotive has been popular with enthusiasts with her intresting livery blue and her chime whistle.

The locomotive was due to feature in the Bluebell's upcomming gala, the Branch Line Gala. The Bluebell announced on Facebook this afternoon that she will be 'withdrawn with immediate affect'.

She will be missed among the enthusiasts and the visitors of the railway.

A Beif History of Bluebell:

Long the flagship of the Bluebell's fleet, painted blue and named 'Bluebell' between 1961 and 1998, this loco was repainted into SE&CR wartime plain green livery, for the 1999 centenary of the SE&CR.

The P-class tank locomotives were, in design terms, an updated copy of the LBSCR Terriers, but, with only eight of them built, made rather less of a name for themselves. However, with four of the eight surviving into preservation, they have blossomed, and are now much more favourably regarded as highly capable little locomotives. Their greater water capacity and larger cabs give them a slight advantage over the considerably older Terriers.

An appeal to raise the funds for the overhaul was started towards the end of 2003. The locomotive was partially dismantled, but the overhaul was suspended whilst the workshops concentrated on larger locomotives. Then in September 2009 the loco entered the works and was lifted from its wheels, signifying the re-starting of its overhaul, with the aim of completing to overhaul for the 50th anniversary celebrations in August 2010. This was thwarted by the discovery of the need for additional boiler repairs, and after this additional work, the loco returned to service just in time to put in an appearance at the Branch Line weekend in March 2011, painted in a more elaborate version of "Bluebell Blue" than formerly, as seen above. 

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