35028 Clan Line – A brief history
Locomotive No. 35028 Clan Line was built at Eastleigh Works in Hampshire and entered traffic on December 23rd, 1948 from Bournemouth shed. Thus, from the beginning, she was always a ‘British Railways’ (BR) engine and never carried the full livery, markings or numbering system of the Southern Railway.
The locomotive was out-shopped in malachite green livery and carried this colour until January 1951 when the early BR express passenger Blue livery was applied. It was whilst in this colour that she was named on January 15th, 1951 by Lord Rotherwick, chairman of the shipping line whose name she carries to this day. June 1953 saw another livery change, this time to her final colour, of what is commonly known as Brunswick Green, but is actually BR Locomotive Green. In October 1959, having run 401,005 miles she was rebuilt at Eastleigh Works to a more conventional design and was the last of her class to be so dealt with.
During BR ownership Clan Line was based at several locomotive sheds on the Southern Region:
Bournemouth (71B) – Dec 1948
Dover (74C) – Oct 1949
Stewarts Lane (73A) – Mar 1950
Nine Elms (70A) – Jun 1959
Weymouth (70G) – Sep 1964
Nine Elms (70A) – Apr 1967
Under BR ownership Clan Line was used on the Southern Region’s principal express trains, including the ‘Golden Arrow’ and ‘Night Ferry’ to Dover and Folkestone; the ‘Bournemouth Belle’; the ‘Royal Wessex’ and the ‘Atlantic Coast Express’.
Clan Line’s last day of active service with BR was Wednesday, July 5th, 1967 and she was formally withdrawn from service the following Sunday, July 9th (along with all remaining steam locomotives on the Southern Region), having run a total of 794,391 miles. She came under MNLPS ownership on August 13th that year.
At the time of purchase, BR had imposed a ban on the operation of privately owned steam locomotives on the UK national rail network. This ban lasted until 1972 when BR decided to allow some steam-hauled specials to operate on the mainline once more and the engine was included on a small list of ‘approved’ locomotives. Clan Line was one of the first preserved locomotives to participate and on April 27th, 1974 she operated her first main line steam tour from Basingstoke to Westbury and return. It was the first of what has become a lengthy preserved career hauling passenger trains on the railway network. In 2016 she celebrated her 42nd year of operating on Britain’s main line rail network and therefore the Society has now operated the locomotive for more than twice as long as her previous owner!
When the locomotive was first purchased she was housed at the Longmoor Military Railway which was a small railway system operated by the Army in Hampshire for training purposes. Unfortunately, changes to the defence budget meant that the railway was set for closure in the early 1970s and the engine had to be moved, initially to a site a few miles away close to the London Waterloo to Portsmouth mainline at Liss, but then moved again to a privately owned base at Ashford in Kent.
However, because there had been some instances of trespass on the Southern Region’s electrified railway during previous enthusiast events, a complete ban on the running of steam-hauled trains over the ‘3rd Rail’ electrified parts of the system was put in place. This made the logistics of running the engine difficult and it was decided in early 1975 to move the engine to a railway centre in Hereford which had been established on a private railway network owned by Bulmers, the producers of well-known brands of Cider. From this location the engine was able to run a number of excursions and travelled as far north as Carlisle and York hauling a series of trains in the north of England from 1975 onwards.
Following that first railtour, Clan Line has operated over a great deal of the UK rail network during the years 1974 – 1980; 1984 – 1991; 1994 – 2001; 2006 – 2015; 2017 - 2019 and has travelled approximately 81,000 miles. Whilst based at Hereford, trips included the ‘Welsh Marches’ tours. The engine moved periodically for short periods to locations such as: Carnforth allowing operation over the Settle and Carlisle line on the ‘Cumbrian Mountain Express’ trains as well as on ‘Cumbrian Coast Express’ services; York, where she operated to Leeds and Skipton as well as on the York – Harrogate circulars.
In 1985 Clan Line became one of a pool of engines used by the then Special Trains Unit of BR to run regular ‘Sunday Luncheon Express’ services from London Marylebone to Straford-Upon-Avon, a popular tourist destination. These ran regularly from 1985 to 1990 and were centred on a visit by passengers to Stratford, with lunch being provided to the patrons during the journey. During this period the engine was stabled in a Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) maintenance depot adjacent to Marylebone station. In addition to the Sunday Luncheon services Clan Line also hauled ‘Santa Specials’ to High Wycombe and other enthusiast trains to the Midlands and the North.
In October 1986 and again in June 1987 the then Area Manager at Salisbury, Gerry Daniels, was given permission to operate steam-hauled ‘Blackmore Vale Express’ trains between Salisbury and Yeovil Junction, with Clan Line the first locomotive to do so.
In 1988 the MNLPS moved to another new base located in a former steam shed and DMU maintenance depot at Southall, Middlesex. From there Clan Line continued to operate special trains and it remained the Society’s base until the mid-1990s. The loco also spent a few months in 1988 at Swindon Works undergoing repairs to axle boxes and having the driving wheels ‘turned’.
In 1989 Clan Line visited Crewe from where she operated the ‘North Wales Coast Express’ to Holyhead and, before being taken out of traffic for major repair in the early 1990s, also ran trains to places such as Nottingham from Marylebone and Lincoln from London Kings Cross.
In the spring of 1991 the engine was required to be withdrawn to undergo its second major overhaul during MNLPS ownership and during these works – primarily mandatory repairs to the boiler – it was decided to install steam-operated air compressor equipment to facilitate operating air-braked trains. This decision was made in the light of the fact that the older vacuum operated train braking system on BR was being phased out and there could be difficulties in operating in the longer term without the compatibility of operating the air brake system which in universal use.
The early 1990s saw the ban on steam-hauled trains on ‘3rd Rail territory’ being lifted and in September 1994, following the overhaul and the installation of air-braking, Clan Line was chosen to haul the UK luxury Pullman train operated by the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) company on a run sponsored by BR in support of The Royal London Society for the Blind (RLSB). The run was from London Victoria to Portsmouth Harbour and return.
VSOE (now Belmond British Pullman - BBP) operates regular excursions on luxury Pullman trains operating out of London to a number of well-known tourist destinations and, following the success of the run in aid of the RLSB, the Company decided to introduce steam haulage on a number of its own services in Southern England. Thus began a long association with the now ‘British Pullman’ train which continues today. There was however a logistical problem in that the locomotive was some distance in railway terms from getting the engine to Victoria from where these trains operate. Consequently, the opportunity of relocating to a railway maintenance facility at Stewarts Lane, Battersea, arose and the engine, support coach and back-up workshop facilities were moved there in March 1999 and established in the former electric locomotive maintenance building dating from 1959. Stewarts Lane remains the Society’s base to this day.
There is some irony in the engine now being resident at Stewarts Lane because for the first ten or so years of its BR operated days it had been based there, from where it hauled express trains - although the old steam locomotive shed had by her return been demolished. It is fitting therefore that Clan Line is now adorned once more with her ‘73A’ shed plate.
Since her relocation to Stewarts Lane, and in addition to numerous Pullman excursions every year, Clan Line has operated various tours to Exeter, Weymouth (including a tour double-headed with No.34027 Taw Valley to celebrate the life of the late BR Driver Bert Hooker), Plymouth and Cardiff. Another highlight was the ‘Waterloo Sunset’ tour from Waterloo to Poole and return on July 8th, 2007 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the end of steam in 1967. One of the most notable Pullman excursions was the ‘Express for Children’, for the Save the Children charity whose guest of Honour was their Patron, Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, the Princess Royal.
In 2001 the engine was taken out of service for what was its third major overhaul and the works duly took place in the building, with some larger components including the boiler being relocated to specialist workshops elsewhere in the country for repair and maintenance. These works were to prove more extensive and costly than had been anticipated and although it had been hoped that the engine would be back in service within a 3 year period, it actually took until the end of 2006 before it was once again available for main line use. Since that date the engine has continuously operated the British Pullman train and undertakes about 20 such runs a year. These trips remain the backbone of the Society’s revenue earning service each year, but in addition, the Society tries to make Clan Line available two or three times a year for use by other companies operating charter trains for the benefit of the enthusiast movement.
Under MNLPS ownership Clan Line has achieved a number of firsts in her preserved career. During the 1991-94 general overhaul she became the first steam locomotive to be fitted with an air brake system. On return to mainline duty it became the first locomotive to haul air-braked stock. The first was a series of driver-training runs between Southall and Eastleigh followed, on September 17th, 1994, by a test train to Portsmouth when Clan Line carried a headboard celebrating the life of Ronald G Jarvis, the engineer behind the rebuilding of the Bulleid Pacifics in the late 1950s. A week later she hauled the fundraising journey for the RLSB mentioned above.
In March 1995, Clan Line took part in the centenary celebrations of Woking Borough Council during which it operated a scheduled early morning commuter service from Woking to London Waterloo and evening return, and trip from Woking to Salisbury and return for some of the Borough’s school children.
Clan Line has been the only steam locomotive to have operated in steam twice at the then Eurostar Terminal at Waterloo International. On the first occasion it was to celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Eurostar Services to Paris and Brussels. On the second occasion it was to attend a charity fundraising event.
In the 1990’s Clan Line was the first steam locomotive to open up Southampton Eastern Docks for steam working since the 1960s and indeed during that time operated a genuine boat train for the P&O liner ‘Oriana’. In order to turn the locomotive it would reverse to Eastleigh, pass round the works and reverse back to the docks for servicing.
In 2012 Clan Line became the first Merchant Navy Class Pacific to take a through train from London to Swanage as in BR days the line was not approved for the class based on their weight.
The costs involved of operating large and older railway equipment on the mainline grows ever more expensive, not least because additional safety and protection measures have to be installed to meet up-to-date requirements. Clan Line has been fitted with the Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) and is additionally fitted with an electronic monitoring device called OTMR (On Train Monitoring and Recording) which records the status of various parts of the engine’s operating system and provides information in the event of a serious incident occurring, by establishing the condition in which the engine was being operated at the time. This latter system was not in existence in the days of steam-hauled railways on the national network and the cost of providing this type of monitoring equipment is considerable and complex given the need to accord with the most up-to-date safety standards required by Network Rail. Clan Line was equipped with a cab radio system several years ago, but this has now been replaced by the new national standard system used on Britain’s railway network – the GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway).
In July 2015, Clan Line's boiler ticket expired, and the engine went to LNWR Heritage at Crewe for its fourth general overhaul. This took almost exactly 2 years, and Clan Line is now back on the mainline, where it belongs.
In 2018, Clan Line made by history being the first Merchant Navy locomotive to cross the Royal Albert Bridge and enter Cornwall. Later in the same year, Clan Line was given the honour of hauling the Royal Train, with His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales on board, into Cardiff Central station.