32655 was built in 1875 as 55 Stepney and rebuilt as a class A1X in 1912.
In 1907 was fitted with mechanical push pull gear as an experiment with light push and pull trains as an alternative to unreliable rail cars.
In 1916 the locomotive was loaned to the Woolmer Instructional Military Railway (the forerunner of the Longmoor Military Railway) after which it returned to service at Fratton.
It was withdrawn in 1925 and stored at Preston Park as surplus to requirements but was then reinstated in 1927 as B655 and fitted with vacuum brakes and LSW type mechanical push pull gear. It then became the second engine for working the Lee on Solent branch until the line closed.
As 2655 it then worked from Fratton on the Hayling Island line until 1938 when the return of several engines from the Isle of Wight created a surplus and 32655 moved on hire to the Kent and East Sussex Railway. The hire lasted until the decline of war traffic in 1945 when the engine returned again to Fratton.
BR motive power depot allocations.
|January 1954||St Leonards|
32655 was withdrawn from British Railways in 1960.
It was purchased by the Bluebell Railway for £750 and ran under its own steam from Brighton via Haywards Heath to the Bluebell Railway at Horsted Keyes hauling two carriages the society owned.. It was the first locomotive that the railway acquired and hauled the first train on the opening of the line in 1960. The Bluebell Railway thus became the first preserved standard gauge steam operated railway in the world.
In 2010 of Stepney was back in steam for the 50th Anniversary of hauling its first train on the Bluebell in May 1960. It has been repainted into the black (lined with red) livery it carried 50 years ago in the Bluebell Railway’s first season.
Stepney then remained available for limited service until its main steam pipe failed in early 2014. At its next major overhaul it will require new cylinders, the castings for which are already to hand, significant work on the frames and major boiler work. Because of its worn and fragile state the locomotive is likely to be on static display for a long time.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Bluebell Railway||On long term static display||Bluebell Railway|
- 31751 (LBSCR 54 Waddon, SR 1751, SR A751, BR 680S & BR 31751)
- 82 Boxhill (LBSCR 82 Boxhill, LBSCR 682 & SR 380S)
- 32636 (LBSCR 72 Fenchurch, SR B636, SR 2636 & BR 32636)
- 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
- 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)