30053 (SR 53, SR E53 & BR 30053)

30053 (Southern Railway No 53 and E53, British Railways No 30053) was designed by Drummond and built by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR) at Nine Elms in London. It was completed in December 1905 but by March 1906 the locomotive must have developed a problem as it was awaiting entry to Eastleigh Works.

The locomotives early years in service were spent in the London area where it was mostly employed hauling suburban trains. Part of this time it was based at Strawberry Hill.

Around 1912 the coal bunker was fitted with two rails at the top of the bunker to allow additional coal to be carried.

Whilst the detailed workings of 30053 are not available it is known that in May 1917 and for several years it was working Guildford to London trains via Claygate.

By the time of the 1923 grouping when the LSWR became part of the Southern Railway the locomotive was based at Nine Elms. The mileage recorded until that time amounted to over 500,000 miles. At this time the locomotive acquired the small letter E above its number to signify it was maintained at Eastleigh.    

The locomotive was overhauled at Eastleigh in May 1930 which resulted in the boiler pressure being increased to 175psi.

In July 1930 the locomotive was fitted with the compressed air push and pull control developed by the former London, Brighton & South Coast Railway. It was one of the engines allocated to Guildford for use on the Bentley-Bordon, Petersfield-Midhurst, Aldershot-Ascot and Guildord-Farnham services.

Following another overhaul at Eastleigh the locomotive was moved to Bournemouth depot in March 1936. Here it worked the push-pull services between Bournemouth and Brockenhurst and on the Swanage branch. The locomotive had a brief spell at Fratton (Portsmouth) in June 1938 before returning to Bournemouth in the August of that year. During this period it was frequently rostered on secondary passenger workings to such places as Eastleigh and Salisbury and managed to cover about 40,000 miles per year.

In mid 1940 the locomotive was transferred to Eastleigh where it remained until November 1950. It was continued to be employed during this period on secondary passenger duties which included working on what is now the Mid Hants Railway.

rn Railway No 53 and E53, British Railways No 30053) was designed by Drummond and built by the L&SWR at Nine Elms in London in 1905 and worked all over the L&SWR’s, and later Southern Railway’s, lines.

In 1930 the locomotive was fitted with the compressed air push and pull control developed by the former London, Brighton & South Coast Railway.

BR motive power depot allocations since 1948.

Date ArrivedDepot
January 1948Eastleigh
November 1950Fratton
March 1953Faversham
July 1953Brighton
May 1959Eastleigh
February 1960Brighton
April 1961Three Bridges
June 1962Eastleigh
January 1963Tunbridge Wells West
September 1963Three Bridges
December 1963Bournemouth

Whilst based at Fratton the locomotive worked over the now defunct Fareham to Alton line in the Meon Valley.

The move in March 1953 to Faversham was the first time the locomotive was employed outside of the old LSWR territory. It was sent there along with two other M7 class locomotives to work the services to Herne Bay after severe flooding along the Kent coast. The locomotives were only required for two months until the impact of the flooding had been overcome.

30053 was then allocated to Brighton where it worked the local push-pull services from Brighton and Horsham.

In 1957 the locomotive underwent general repairs at Brighton Works which was the only time that it had been overhauled at other than Eastleigh.

The locomotive continued to be used on push-pull service when back at Brighton and at Three Bridges.

In May 1962 the locomotive was the last member of the M7 class to be given a heavy overhaul at Eastleigh.

After being transferred to Tunbridge Wells West in January 1963 the locomotive was again employed on push-pull services. This time it operated to Oxted but this service ceased in September 1963 and the Tunbridge Wells West depot closed.

30053 was reprieved when Three Bridges had a shortage of diesel power and it was used to work the Three Bridges-East Grinstead line.

After moving to Bournemouth in December 1963 30053 was one of four M7 class locomotives to operate the last push-pull services on the Southern Region. The engines were employed on the Swanage and Lymington branches and the services to Ringwood and Brockenhurst.

It was withdrawn from service in May 1964 but ran to Nine Elms at the end of June 1964. In July of that year it headed (along with a standard class 2 2-6-0) the Locomotive Club of Great Britain (Surrey Wanderer Railtour) around the Surrey branches. After this the locomotive ran to Nine Elms where it s fire was dropped for the last time under BR ownership.

30053 was picked for preservation as it was considered to be in the best condition of the surviving M7 engines. By the time of its withdrawal from service it had covered 1,786,577 miles over a working life of 59 years.

It was then stored at Eastleigh where it was subsequently cosmetically restored and the push and pull equipment removed before it was moved to Fratton for storage.

In April 1967 it was towed along with Schools class 30926 Repton to Gladstone Docks at Liverpool and shipped to the United States in April 1967, for exhibition at Steamtown USA, Scranton, Pennsylvania. There it remained for twenty years, out in the open, the sun bleaching its paintwork and leaving the humble tank engine in a very sorry state.

A group known as the Southern Repatriation Group evolved with the aim of returning 30053 and 30926 to Britain. Some of the people in the group were closely involved in the development of the Swanage Railway. After five years of negotiations 30053 was purchased by the Drummond Locomotive Society in June 1986 and after further fund raising the locomotive left the USA at Port Elizabeth in New Jersey in March 1987aboard the Nedlloyd ship Rosario which docked at Felixtowe in early April and 30053 was then transported to Swanage.

After being displayed at Swanage and at the LSWR 150 celebrations at Woking in June 1988 the locomotive was moved to the former GWR Swindon Works site for overhaul and restoration.

Work started on the restoration in the old Weighbridge Building where 34072 257 Squadron was also being worked on. After spending some time dismantling the locomotive the volunteers undertaking the task were told the locomotive would have to be moved to another part of the Swindon works site – the old 19 Shop.  

In  October 1990 the volunteers found out that the National Railway Museum needed to use Shop 19 as a temporary home for exhibits as the museum needed to undertake some work on the roof of the museum at York.

In December 1990 the partly restored engine was moved by road to the East Anglia Railway Museum at Chappel & Wakes Colne.

After much work and a cost of about £86,000 the locomotive steamed again in April 1992.

The locomotive was moved to the Swanage Railway in June 1992 where it underwent loaded test runs later that month before entering service there.

At the end of June the locomotive was transported by road to Eastleigh where it spent two weekends working as station pilot before returning to operate on the Swanage Railway.

The locomotive has since visited a number of heritage railways.

In March 1995 the locomotive operated on the main line again when it paid a visit to Woking as part of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the LNWR reaching Woking. The main line activities including running from Woking to Waterloo

30053 had a valid boiler certificate which ran out in early 2017 but an extension to the certificate was obtained as the boiler had been re-tubed in 2011. The locomotive was in service until the end of October 2017 when the boiler certificate expired.

In December 2017 the boiler was lifted off the frames to enable the overhaul of the locomotive to start.

The boiler was returned to the frames in September 2022 and it was planned that the locomotive would be back in service in 2023.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Swanage RailwayUnder overhaulDrummond Locomotives Ltd
30053 at Brighton – September 1960
30053 at Eastleigh – date unknown
30053 looking as if it is fresh out of the works at Eastleigh shed – June 1962
30053 on Eastleigh shed – July 1962
30053 on railtour duties at Caterham – July 1964
30053 on Nine Elms shed – August 1964
30053 at Eastleigh – March 1966
30053 at Eastleigh – January 1966
30053 at Swanage – September 2008
30053 on the Swanage Railway near Corfe Castle – 2009
30053 at Corfe Castle on the Swanage Railway – April 2011
30053 at Loughborough on the Great Central Railway – January 2012
30053 at Bewdley on the Severn Valley Railway – September 2014
30053 at Bewdley on the Severn Valley Railway – September 2014
30053 on Victoria Bridge over the River Severn on the Severn Valley Railway – September 2014
30053 & 34053 Sir Keith Park at Highley on the Severn Valley Railway – September 2014
30053 on the Swanage Railway – April 2017

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