214 Gladstone (LBSCR 214, LBSCR 618 & SR B618)

Gladstone large.jpg

214 Gladstone was built at Brighton in 1882 at a cost of £2,655. By 1920 it had been rebuilt with a modified boiler (fitted in 1907) and had lost its distinctive copper capped chimney (since restored) and been renumbered 618. It had also been fitted with new cylinders in 1896 and again in 1913.

At the establishment of Southern Railway in 1923 it became B618 with the B denoting Brighton as the works where it was services.

The first of the class, 214 Gladstone, was preserved as a static exhibit thanks to the efforts of the Stephenson Locomotive Society and is normally on display in the National Railway Museum, York. Gladstone is the only ex LBSCR tender locomotive to be preserved, as all the other preserved locomotives (ten A1/A1x “Terriers“, one E1, and an E4) are tank engines.

Gladstone represents the first instance of preservation of a locomotive by a private body. Gladstone was built in 1882, went into service at Brighton in 1883 and was withdrawn in April 1927, after running 1,346,918 miles. Most of those miles were run on the London – Brighton main line.

The Stephenson Locomotive Society (SLS) had been founded at Croydon in 1909 and there was a strong interest in Brighton locomotives among the early members. In 1926 as many older locomotives were being withdrawn by the Southern Railway, the Society felt that something of the LB&SCR should be preserved and negotiations were put in hand for the purchase of Gladstone.

The then President, J.N. Maskelyne, wrote this item:-

“It is with utmost pleasure that, on behalf of the Council, I am able to announce that preliminary negotiations for the celebrated LB&SCR locomotive “Gladstone” are now completed. This engine has been withdrawn from service and is at Brighton works, where the work of restoring her to her original condition and painting her in the famous old yellow livery is to be put in hand immediately. I am sure that all our members will appreciate fully the kindness of the Southern Railway Co. in helping us to carry out such a scheme as this, certainly the most ambitious scheme ever undertaken by our Society. We are, also, deeply indebted to the London & North Eastern Railway Co. who have offered to find space for the Gladstone in their Railway Museum at York until such time as accommodation can be found in London, possibly at South Kensington Museum, in the course of a few years.

There is no need for me to enlarge upon the reasons as to why this engine is being preserved; it is enough if I say here that she represents the unique achievement of an unique Locomotive Engineer whose influence upon Locomotive Engineering generally can still be noted at the present time. That Gladstone was a sound proposition in the first place, designed with the utmost care and almost uncanny foresight, is proved by the fact that her term of usefulness has amounted to just forty-four years. From now on she will remain the property of the Society, and I am certain that every member will agree that she is a possession of which we may well be proud, and an asset of which the value will increase with the passing years”.

The above was included in the Society’s circular of 11 February 1927, followed by an appeal for funds. The price of £140 paid for Gladstone included reboilering and other remedial work required to return the locomotive to its original condition.

On 14 May 1927, Gladstone was displayed in Platform 12 at Waterloo Station together with the then-new 4-6-0 No E850 Lord Nelson. During the subsequent week it was available for inspection to members at Battersea Park Shed before being hauled to York, where, on 31 May, it was ceremonially handed over to the LNER for safe keeping in the old Railway Museum. Gladstone never moved to South Kensington as had been intended and, except for storage at Reedsmouth during the Second World War, remained at York.

In 1959 the Society celebrated its Golden Jubilee and it wished to have Gladstone in the best of condition to mark the event. Society Officers visited York to find there was nothing radically wrong with the engine, but it was in obvious need of a repaint. The price quoted by the British Transport Commission (BTC), which was now responsible for the (old) York Museum was beyond the Society’s means and therefore the time had come to offer Gladstone to the BTC with its other historical relics.

The locomotive was therefore repainted under the supervision of Society members who had researched the accurate colouring and lining used in Brighton days; it was possibly the most accurate restoration of any preserved locomotive in Europe at the time. Gladstone was formally handed over to the BTC at York on 18 September 1959 adorned with a circular plaque mounted on the buffer beam.

With the transfer of relics from the former BTC, Gladstone became part of the National Collection and was moved to the new National Railway Museum at York when it opened in 1975.

Gladstone has since revisited Brighton territory on two occasions. In 1982 it went to Sheffield Park where the Bluebell Railway celebrated the centenary of the Lewes & East Grinstead Railway, and in 1991 it was at Brighton for the 150th anniversary celebrations.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
National Railway Museum – YorkStatic displayNational Railway Museum

NRM Object Number{1975-7017}

214 Gladstone in Brighton Works. Thought to be in 1927 around the time the locomotive was withdrawn from service with the people being members of the Stephenson Locomotive Society who purchased the locomotive for preservation.
214 Gladstone in the British Transport Museum at York - June 1960.jpg
214 Gladstone in the British Transport Museum at York – June 1960
214 Gladstone in the British Transport Museum at York - May 1966.jpg
214 Gladstone in the British Transport Museum at York – May 1966
214 Gladstone in the British Transport Museum at York - July 1972
214 Gladstone in the British Transport Museum at York – 1972
214 Gladstone at the NRM - August 1975.jpg
214 Gladstone at the NRM – August 1975
Gladstone at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway - May 1982.jpg
214 Gladstone at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway – May 1982
Gladstone royal crest.jpg
Crest for Royal Train duties
214 Gladstone in the National Railway Museum at York – 2008
214 Gladstone in the National Railway Museum at York – July 2013

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