30847 (SR 847 & BR 30847)

30847 climbing Freshfield Bank on the Bluebell Railway - May 1993.jpg

30847 was the last S15 as well as being the last 4-6-0 to be built by the Southern Region. It was completed at Eastleigh in December 1936 and initially allocated to Exmouth Junction shed which was one of the largest on the Southern Region. In July 1951 it moved to Salisbury and then Redhill in June 1959 where it stayed for four years before moving to Feltham for six months before being withdrawn in January 1964. The move to Redhill meant that 30847 had to be fitted with a smaller tender in order to be turned on the shorter turntable there. The 5,000 gallon tender was thus replaced by a six-wheel 4,000 gallon tender which had previously belonged to King Arthur class locomotive 30797. This replacement tender is now attached to U class 31806.

When withdrawn from service it was using the boiler from King Arthur class 30456 which had been fitted when it had its last overhaul at Eastleigh in 1960.

It was sent for scrap to Woodham Brothers from where it was saved by the 847 Locomotive Preservation Fund in 1978 and moved to the Bluebell Railway where it has been ever since. The 847 team merged with the rest of the Maunsell Society in the interest of pooling resources

Nevertheless, preservation was initially put on hold as work on 30541 was well under way. When completed though in 1983 attention switched to 30847. It took a further 10 years for restoration to be completed. The boiler was in pretty good shape, and indeed still has BR tubes in. The cylinders however needed liners, and a full motion set had to be acquired. Some of the pieces were machined from new forgings, but some originals were also found and bought, or traded off with other preservation groups. There are nominally 5 Maunsell preserved S15’s, but 1 (30825 at the North Yorks Moors Railway) is definitely a spares supplier only, and a second (30830) has only recently been looked on as a viable restoration job. A close look at the numbers stamped on the motion pieces is quite revealing!

The tender was originally that of 30828 (as restored at Eastleigh). 30828 has 30830’s tender, 30847’s 6 wheel tender (Ex No.797 King Arthur class Sir Blamor De Ganis) was bought by the Mid Hants Railway. The 847 team had to chop the flares on their tender to convert it to the later straight sided type. 30847 was in fact the last S15 ever built, being completed in 1936, and with the 8 wheel tender looks as it did from when originally outshopped up until a tender change in June 1960.

When 30847 entered service, it quickly became a regular, clocking up many miles in service. It looks the part, there is no doubt, and is historically appropriate to the Bluebell, and being a strong goods engine can haul the heaviest of summer trains. It is large though and has been “winterised” as the lighter winter trains do not justify the coal costs of such an engine. When it was restored its boiler was hydraulic tested in 1988. Since then the rules of certification have changed and this date rather than first steaming is now to be the start date for the 10 year ticket. This means of course that after only 5 years service 30847 was withdrawn for overhaul. The return has happened though after an extended and thorough overhaul which covered aspects of the engine not previously worked on. The return happened in November 2013, which puts into perspective what time is needed for overhaul.

In October 2019 it was revealed that the locomotive would only be used to haul lighter loads (limited to five coaches) in order to reduce the wear on the tyres which are near life expired. The boiler certificate expires in 2023.

In December 2021 it was announced that the locomotive has now been withdrawn from service following a number of boiler issues including a large crack in the copper firebox. In the eight years since it entered traffic again the locomotive has covered well over 53,000 miles on the Bluebell Railway. The next service will include replacement of the driving wheel tyres as the ones currently on the locomotive are down to scrapping size. 30847 is currently in store at Sheffield Park.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Bluebell RailwayAwaiting overhaulMaunsell Locomotive Society
30847 in front of 30499 in Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry – c1973
30847 in Woodhams scrapyard at Barry – August 1977
30847 at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway – September 1979
30847, 73082, 34059 Sir Archibaldv Sinclair & possibly 34023 Blackmoor Vale at the Bluebell Railway – date unknown but probably circa 1980
30847 at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway – March 1990
30847 climbing Freshfield Bank on the Bluebell Railway – May 1993
30847 at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway – 1994
30847 on the Mid Hants Railway – March 2015
30847 at Horsted Keynes on the Bluebell Railway – October 2016
30847 at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway – September 2017
30847 at Arch Bridge Field on the Bluebell Railway – March 2018
30847 on the Mid Hants Railway – March 2018
30847 on the Bluebell Railway – April 2019
30847 in the carriage shed at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway – August 2022

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