Andrew Barclay Works No 699 Swanscombe 0-4-0ST

AB 699 at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre - October 2013
Power Classification
DesignerAndrew Barclay
CompanyNorthfleet Coal & Ballast Co
Weight22t 0cwt
Driving Wheels3ft 0in
Boiler Pressure160psi
CylindersInside – 11in x 18in
Tractive Effort8,343lbf
Valve GearStephenson – (slide valve)

This is the oldest surviving Andrew Barclay locomotive in the United Kingdom. Swanscombe was delivered to the Northfleet Coal and Ballast Co., Kent, in 1891 where it joined an earlier Barclay and an old Henry Hughes saddle tank, all three eventually being transferred to new quarries and wharves at West Thurrock in Essex. These had been opened in 1912-13, and in 1921 became the property of the Thurrock Chalk and Whiting Company, a subsidiary of Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers, which is now part of the Blue Circle Group.

With the increasing loads dealt with on the railway, Swanscombe was unsuitable for the heavier work which involved running from the chalk quarry to a quay on the Thames, heavily graded all the way. The engines latter years were therefore confined to shunting “Presflo” wagons at the wharves and not used on trips to the firm’s chalk quarry. Swanscombe received a new boiler in 1929, and a new firebox in 1941.

Swanscombe was purchased by a Quainton Road Society (QRS) member in 1965, and initially moved in February 1966 to the London Railway Preservation Society (LRPS) store at Skimpot Lane, Luton. The locomotive was then moved to Quainton in April 1969, and later sold to another QRS member. It was restored and was steamed in 1975 for the BBC TV Play School programme. After a number of years out of service awaiting heavy maintenance, a change of owner lead to major work starting in 1999, with the locomotive back into service during 2002.

More recently Swanscombe suffered from a failure early in the 2009 season, and there is some concern with some water leaks on the boiler. The necessary repairs have been started, with some work due to be completed at Quainton and the boiler work being sub-contracted out. An internal steam pipe in the boiler has been replaced, and the reassembly started.

Swanscombe returned to steam in May 2013 in the blue livery it has carried since its return to service in 2002. It was painted in July 2013 into a pseudo-Metropolitan Railway livery to allow Swanscombe to play the part of Brill No. 1, as part of the August London Transport 150 celebrations. During the celebrations Swanscombe ran with MSLR 3rd No. 1076, LSWR Ventilated Van No. 5025 and the Tube Wagon No. 801 repainted in Metropolitan Railway livery.

Following its overhaul the locomotive was returned to steam after passing a final boiler test in July 2022 at Fifield in Berkshire on the private railway of David Buck.

The locomotive, which is the oldest surviving standard gauge Andrew Barclay locomotive in the world, is now available for hire.

AB 699 at Quainton Road – 1969
AB 699  Buckinghamshire Railway Centre May 2010.jpg
699 at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre – May 2010
AB 699 at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre - October 2013.jpg
AB 699 at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre – October 2013

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