32655 (LBSCR 55 Stepney, LBSCR 655, SR B655, SR 2655 & BR 32655)

32655 at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway - March 2003.jpg

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It was withdrawn in 1925 and stored at Preston Park as surplus to requirements but was then reinstated in 1927 as B655 and fitted with vacuum brakes and LSW type mechanical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.


Date Arrived Depot
January 1948 Fratton
May 1953 Ashford
January 1954 St Leonards
October 1955 Brighton
February 1960 Eastleigh

32670 was withdrawn from British Railways in 1960.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 guage 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.


Home Base Current Status Owner
Bluebell Railway On static display awaiting major overhaul Bluebell Railway
32655 at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway - March 2003.jpg 32655 at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway-March 2003
32655a.jpg 32655 at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway-2012
32655 at Sheffield Park-2017.jpg 32655 at Sheffield Park on the Bluebell Railway-2017

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