31027 entered service in 1910 and was initially allocated to Sheerness shed, for use on Isle of Sheppey Light Railway but moved on to Reading shed in 1914.
From 24 April 1915 until 30 October 1916, 27 was engaged in military work, being shipped across the Channel for war service at Boulogne. (I have seen it stated suggested that 31027 and 31556 were the first locomotives to be moved to France). The SECR were contracted to construct exchange sidings at the docks in Boulogne for the transhipping of Munitions and other stores. Whilst there it was painted unvarnished olive green and numbered as ROD No.5027.
31027 spent most all of its life under BR ownership based at Dover Marine apart from a period from March 1952 until July 1953. The period away from Dover was spent at Fratton except for two months in 1952 at Eastleigh.
From 1938 onwards the P class were the only locomotives allowed to shunt Kingston Wharf at Shoreham Harbour.
31027 was withdrawn from service with British Railways in March 1961 and was bought by the Bluebell Railway where it moved in the same year and for two years carried the name Primrose (and number 27). In 1963 it was repainted into full SECR passenger livery, and, with 31323, was a mainstay of the Bluebell Railways operational fleet for much of that decade, carrying the flag forward into the early 1970s. It has been said that it has only been in preservation days that the P class have been able to demonstrate their true usefulness, with their greater water capacity compared to a Terrier proving quite an advantage. 27 was withdrawn from traffic in November 1974 and stored prior to restoration.
The restoration began when the locomotive was dismantled in 1978 for a “quick” overhaul, but, as was so often the case at the time, this was found to be beyond the skills of the basic workshop capability we had back then, so the restoration stalled.
A restart on the restoration of 27 to working condition has recently begun following a delay of nearly 30 years. Major work is required on the boiler and frames of the locomotive, as well as some significant mechanical renewal and replacement of plate work, including the tanks.
The overhaul of the locomotive, which has not steamed since November 1974, started around 2016 on the Bluebell Railway.
Because of the level of corrosion to the original frames quotes are being sought for a new set of frame plates so that the cost of repairing the exiting frames can be compared with the cost of replacing them. New frames were cut by Tata Steel in October 2017 and delivered to Sheffield Park later that month.
In early 2018 new cylinders for the locomotive were sent to Statfold Engineering Ltd for machining
The new cylinder block was delivered to the Bluebell Railway in April 2019.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Bluebell Railway||Under overhaul||Bluebell Railway|
- 31178 (SECR 178, SR A178, SR 1178, Bowaters Pioneer II & BR 31178)
- 31323 (SECR 323, SR A323, SR 1323 & BR 31323)
- 31556 (SECR 753, ROD 5753, SR A556, SR 556 & BR 31556)