35028 Clan Line

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35028 was built at Eastleigh Works in 1948. After a few weeks running in, whilst based at Bournemouth, it was allocated to first to Dover in October 1949 then to Stewarts Lane shed in March 1950 where it worked heavy trains on the trunk routes to the South East Channel ports, frequently working the prestige expresses, Golden Arrow and The Night Ferry.

The locomotive was out shopped in malachite green livery and carried this colour until January 1951 when the early BR express passenger Blue livery was applied. It was whilst in this colour that 35028 was named Clan Line in 1951 by the chairman of the shipping line whose name it carries to this day. June 1953 saw another livery change, this time to its final colour, of what is commonly known as brunswick green.

In, having run 401,005 miles it was rebuilt at Eastleigh Works to a more conventional design and was the last of the MN class to be so dealt with. After rebuilding it was initially allocated to Nine Elms shed where it headed such trains as the Bournemouth Belle and the Atlantic Coast Express. While working the Atlantic Coast Express in 1961 it was unofficially timed at 104 mph passing Axminster.

In August 1964 35028 moved to Weymouth then back to Nine Elms in March 1967.

On July 2, 1967 Clan Line hauled a farewell special from Waterloo to Bournemouth and back and thus ended its BR career. Clan Line was formally withdrawn from service on July 9th (along with all remaining steam locomotives on the Southern Region), having run a total of 794,391 miles.

Clan Line was bought in 1967, one month after finishing the farewell special by the Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society from BR for the sum of £3,850. The Group had wanted 35022 Holland-America Line but it was sent to Barry to be scrapped before they could purchase it so the Group purchased Clan Line instead.

At the time of purchase, BR had imposed a ban on the operation of privately owned steam locomotives on the UK national rail network. This ban lasted until 1972 when BR decided to allow some steam-hauled specials to operate on the mainline once more and the engine was included on a small list of ‘approved’ locomotives. Clan Line was one of the first preserved locomotives to participate and in 1974 it operated its first main line steam tour from Basingstoke to Westbury and return. It was the first of what has become a lengthy preserved career hauling passenger trains on the railway network.

When the locomotive was first purchased it was housed at the Longmoor Military Railway which was a small railway system operated by the Army in Hampshire for training purposes. Unfortunately, changes to the defence budget meant that the railway was set for closure in the early 1970s and the engine had to be moved, initially to a site a few miles away close to the London Waterloo to Portsmouth mainline at Liss, but then moved again to a privately owned base at Ashford in Kent.

However, because there had been some instances of trespass on the Southern Region’s electrified railway during previous enthusiast events, a complete ban on the running of steam-hauled trains over the ‘3rd Rail’ electrified parts of the system was put in place. This made the logistics of running the engine difficult and it was decided in early 1975 to move the engine to a railway centre in Hereford which had been established on a private railway network owned by Bulmers, the producers of well-known brands of Cider. From this location the engine was able to run a number of excursions and travelled as far north as Carlisle and York hauling a series of trains in the north of England from 1975 onwards.

Whilst based at Hereford, trips included the Welsh Marches tours. The engine moved periodically for short periods to locations such as: Carnforth allowing operation over the Settle and Carlisle line on the Cumbrian Mountain Express trains as well as on Cumbrian Coast Express services; York, where it operated to Leeds and Skipton as well as on the York – Harrogate circulars.

In 1985 Clan Line became one of a pool of engines used by the then Special Trains Unit of BR to run regular Sunday Luncheon Express services from London Marylebone to Straford-Upon-Avon which ran regularly from 1985 to 1990. During this period the engine was stabled in a Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) maintenance depot adjacent to Marylebone station. In addition to the Sunday Luncheon services Clan Line also hauled Santa Specials to High Wycombe and other enthusiast trains to the Midlands and the North.

In 1988 the Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society (MNLPS) moved to another new base located in a former steam shed and DMU maintenance depot at Southall. From there Clan Line continued to operate special trains and it remained the Society’s base until the mid-1990s. The locomotive also spent a few months in 1988 at Swindon Works undergoing repairs to axle boxes and having the driving wheels turned.

In 1989 Clan Line visited Crewe from where it operated the North Wales Coast Express to Holyhead and, before being taken out of traffic for major repair in the early 1990s, also ran trains to places such as Nottingham from Marylebone and Lincoln from London Kings Cross.

In the spring of 1991 the engine was required to be withdrawn to undergo its second major overhaul during MNLPS ownership and during these works – primarily mandatory repairs to the boiler – it was decided to install steam-operated air compressor equipment to facilitate operating air-braked trains. This decision was made in the light of the fact that the older vacuum operated train braking system on BR was being phased out and there could be difficulties in operating in the longer term without the compatibility of operating the air brake system which in universal use.

The early 1990s saw the ban on steam-hauled trains on ‘3rd Rail territory’ being lifted and in September 1994, following the overhaul and the installation of air-braking, Clan Line was chosen to haul the UK luxury Pullman train operated by the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) company on a run sponsored by BR in support of The Royal London Society for the Blind (RLSB). The run was from London Victoria to Portsmouth Harbour and return.

VSOE (now Belmond British Pullman – BBP) operates regular excursions on luxury Pullman trains operating out of London to a number of well-known tourist destinations and, following the success of the run in aid of the RLSB, the Company decided to introduce steam haulage on a number of its own services in Southern England. Thus began a long association with the now British Pullman train which continues today. There was however a logistical problem in that the locomotive was some distance in railway terms from getting the engine to Victoria from where these trains operate. Consequently, the opportunity of relocating to a railway maintenance facility at Stewarts Lane, Battersea, arose and the engine, support coach and back-up workshop facilities were moved there in March 1999 and established in the former electric locomotive maintenance building dating from 1959. Stewarts Lane remains the Society’s base to this day.

There is some irony in the engine now being resident at Stewarts Lane because for the first ten or so years of its BR operated days it had been based there, from where it hauled express trains – although the old steam locomotive shed had by its return been demolished. It is fitting therefore that Clan Line is now adorned once more with the 73A shed plate of Stewarts Lane.

Since its relocation to Stewarts Lane, and in addition to numerous Pullman excursions every year, Clan Line has hauled many tours in southern England and Wales.

In 2001 the engine was taken out of service for what was its third major overhaul with some larger components including the boiler being relocated to specialist workshops elsewhere in the country for repair and maintenance. These works were to prove more extensive and costly than had been anticipated and although it had been hoped that the engine would be back in service within a 3 year period, it actually took until the end of 2006 before it was once again available for main line use.

Since 2006 the engine has continuously operated the British Pullman train and undertakes about 20 such runs a year. These trips remain the backbone of the Society’s revenue earning service each year but is supplemented by operating charter trains for other organisation on a few occasions each year.

In 2012 Clan Line became the first Merchant Navy Class Pacific to take a through train from London to Swanage as in BR days the line was not approved for the class based on their weight.

The costs involved of operating large and older railway equipment on the mainline grows ever more expensive, not least because additional safety and protection measures have to be installed to meet up-to-date requirements. Clan Line has been fitted with the Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) and is additionally fitted with an electronic monitoring device called OTMR (On Train Monitoring and Recording) which records the status of various parts of the engine’s operating system and provides information in the event of a serious incident occurring, by establishing the condition in which the engine was being operated at the time. This latter system was not in existence in the days of steam-hauled railways on the national network and the cost of providing this type of monitoring equipment is considerable and complex given the need to accord with the most up-to-date safety standards required by Network Rail. Clan Line was equipped with a cab radio system several years ago, but this has now been replaced by the new national standard system used on Britain’s railway network – the GSM-R (Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway).

In June 2015 it was taken out of service when its boiler certificate expired and it will now require a  major overhaul. Also in 2015 Clan Line celebrates its 41st year of operating on Britain’s main line rail network which is twice as long as its previous owner – BR.

By the end of 2016 work on of the locomotive was nearing completion with most of the motion fitted apart from the middle connecting rod was being given a new big end bearing. Replacement firebox platework had been welded in and riveting of the new front tubeplate nearly complete.

In early 2017 the boiler passes its hydraulic and out of frames steam tests at LNWR Crewe. In May the locomotive underwent light test runs between Crewe and Chester. In July 2017 it returned to run on the main line again. This is the locomotives fourth period of operation in preservation.

In July 2022 the locomotive failed on a railtour and it was diagnosed to have cracks to its thermic Syphons which were 30 years old.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Stewart Lane MPDUnder repairMerchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society
35028 Clan Line hauling the Bournemouth Belle near Winchester – May 1964
35028 Clan Line at Clapham Junction – June 1964
35028 Clan Line on a train from Bournemouth to Waterloo just north of Hinton Admiral – June 1965
35028 Clan Line at Wareham – February 1966
35028 Clan Line at Basingstoke - April 1967.jpg
35028 Clan Line at Basingstoke – April 1967
35028 Clan Line at Waterloo - April 1967.jpg
35028 Clan Line at Waterloo – April 1967
35028 Clan Line on Basingstoke shed two weeks before being withdrawn from service – June 1967
35028 Clan Line at Deepcut with a special train from Waterloo to Bournemouth and back as part of the end of steam on the Southern Region – July 1967
35028 Clan Line at the Longmoor Military Railway - June 1968.jpg
35028 Cla35028 Clan Line at Deepcut with a special train from Waterloo to Bournemouth and back as part of the end of steam on the Southern Region – July 1967n Line at the Longmoor Military Railway – June 1968
35028 Clan Line at Ashford shed museum – Circa 1972
35028 Clan Line at Bulmers Railway Centre at Hereford – April 1976
35028 Clan Line at York - August 1979.jpg
35028 Clan Line at York – August 1979
35028 Clan Line being overhauled at Bulmers Steam Centre at Hereford – 1981
35028 Clan Line at Sheffield – October 1988
35028 Clan Line at Waterloo – The Ian Allan Network 150 Day – October 1988
35028 Clan Line at Blea Moor heading for Carlisle – April 1989
35028 Clan Line at Easleigh Works Open Day - May 2009.jpg
35028 Clan Line at Easleigh Works Open Day – May 2009
35028 Clan Line at Chester on a test run from Crewe – November 2010
35028 Clan Line approaching Victoria Station with Battersea Power Station in the background – April 2012
35028 Clan Line hauling a Victoria Cardiff Cathedrals Express at Milton – August 2012
35028 Clan Line on the Mid Hants Railway -March 2014
35028 Clan line on the Mid Hants Railway – March 2014
35028 Clan Line departs from Victoria station – September 2017
An unusual view of 35028 Clan Line taken from a hot air balloon over Bristol. It had hauled the Belmond Pullman from Victoria and was preparing for the return trip – October 2021

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