32636 was built at Brighton in 1872 as 72 Fenchurch and although not the first built was the first into service.
Various sizes of cylinder were used on these locomotives down the years, at different times 10 x 26, 12 x 26, 13 x 26 and 14 x 26. In 1904 32636 was fitted with the largest at 14 3/16 x 26.
The locomotive was rebuilt as an A1X with a new boiler and extended smokebox in common with those retained on the main line in 1913.
It was sold to Newhaven Harbour Company in 1898 for £500 and returned to the Southern Railway in 1925 when the Southern Railway took over the operation of Newhaven Harbour. It became part of the capital stock as B636 in 1927 following the absorption of the Harbour Company as part of the Southern Railway.
Vacuum brakes were then fitted to the locomotive in addition to the Westinghouse system. This was the fourth system applied to the engine as it had started its life with steam brakes and been involved in an unsuccessful experiment with hydraulic brakes.
When the Western Breakwater line was closed the need for locomotives with light axeloads to cross the swing bridge ceased and Fenchurch was no longer required at Newhaven. In May 1963 the locomotive was nominally transferred to Eastleigh but in fact it went to Fratton to supplement the other A1X class engines based there for working the Hayling Island branch. The Branch closed in November and the all of the members of the class were withdrawn from service.
From 1950 until withdrawal in November 1963 32636 had the distinction of being the oldest locomotive in British Railway stock.
BR motive power depot allocations.
|October 1955||St Leonards|
Following withdrawal from service it was sold to the Bluebell Railway for £750. Interestingly the locomotive was acquired with the help of the man who was responsible for the Beeching report in the 1960s which resulted in the closure of many railway lines. Dr Beeching lived at East Grinsted and he intervened in order to assist the Bluebell Railway to buy 32636. His involvement gave the railway three months to raise the funds to pay for the locomotive rather than the normal one month.
After much initial use, the locomotive was retired for overhaul in 1970, and returned to traffic in 1972 for its centenary. However, it was withdrawn in 1975 after finding extensive cracks in the fiorebox. After fitting a new firebox it re-entered service in 1980, running until 1988. At its next overhaul, the need to replace one pair of the original wrought iron wheels due to the detection of cracks in a wheel-hub meant the locomotive was not returned to traffic until 2001. Although carrying an A1X boiler, the smokebox was rebuilt during that overhaul such that it now looks very similar to its original A1 form.
It is planned to start overhauling the locomotive, which last steamed in 2011, in the near future with the aim of having it back in steam for its 150th birthday in 2022.
In November 2019 The Bluebell Railway disclosed that they planned to lift the boiler off the locomotive before the end of 2019 with a view to assessing the work required to overhaul the locomotive. The removal was done in December 2019.
In April 2021 it was reported that the bottom end of the locomotive had been sent to Statfold Engineering for overhaul. The aim is to have the frames back at the Bluebell Railway early in 2022 so that it can be back in steam ahead of the locomotive’s and class 150th anniversary in 2022.
Following placing an order has been placed with Israel Newton & Sons Ltd for a new welded firebox work on the boiler will be completed at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Bluebell Railway||Under overhaul||Bluebell Railway|
- 31751 (LBSCR 54 Waddon, SR 1751, SR A751, BR 680S & BR 31751)
- 82 Boxhill (LBSCR 82 Boxhill, LBSCR 682 & SR 380S)
- 32640 (LBSCR 40 Brighton, IoW W11 Newport, SR 2640 & BR 32640)
- 32646 (LBSCR 46 Newington, LBSCR 646, Iow W2, IoW W8 Freshwater & BR 32646
- 32650 (LBSCR 50 Whitechapel, LBSCR 650, SR B650, IoW W9 Fishbourne, SR 2650, BR DS515 & BR 32650
- 32655 (LBSCR 55 Stepney, LBSCR 655, SR B655, SR 2655 & BR 32655
- 32662 (LBSCR 62 Martello, LBSCR 662, SR B662, SR 2662 & BR 32662)
- 32670 (LBSCR 70 Poplar, Rother Valley Railway 3 Bodian & BR 32670)
- 32678 (LBSCR 78 Knowle, LBSCR 678, SR B678, IoW W14 Bembridge, SR 2678 & BR 32678)