Severn Valley Railway waves goodbye to Sir Keith Park
It is the end of the line for an historic train after the Severn Valley Railway waved goodbye to one of its most-loved locomotives.
No.34053 Sir Keith Park joined the railway’s fleet in 2012 after an overhaul – steaming for the first time in preservation on the railway’s tracks.
But after seven “memorable” years, some minor repairs and one final clean, the locomotive, which was affectionately known as Skip, has finished its journeys on the historic railway.
It left the railway on Wednesday this week on the back of a locomotive before its move to a new home on the Swanage Railway in Dorset.
Steam enthusiasts have seen Sir Keith Park on a number of occasions including the Steam and Morgan Car Challenge in October 2012, and at inauguration ceremony of the loco in August 2013, which involved memorable flypast from a Spitfire and Hurricane at Bridgnorth. Stan Jones, of the SVR said: “34053 Sir Keith Park has been a core part of our running home fleet at the Severn Valley Railway, operating passenger services regularly throughout the season and hauling our festive season services too.
“Clocking up over 35,000 miles in its five years in preservation at the railway, Sir Keith Park is one of the last remaining operational Battle of Britain Bulleid locomotives in the world, as such it holds a special place in the hearts of so many of our enthusiasts.
“The engine was on loan to us in a rolling agreement; the group which owns the locomotive is associated primarily with the Swanage Railway, which recently experienced a shortage of hauling-power in their own operational fleet.
“The running agreement ended in the first week of January this year and so it will be working at the Swanage Railway to fill this spot where it will haul thousands more happy passengers.”
It was last on the tracks for the public on January 1 and 2.
The latter, which returned to steam in 2008 to haul the railway’s re-opening special following the devastating storms of 2007, is retiring from service after ten years to undergo an overhaul.
Since then, it has clocked up 100,000 miles in preservation and has carried the Olympic Torch and HRH Princess Anne.
Sir Keith Park was built in 1946 at the South Railway’s Brighton Works and entered service as South Railway no 21C153.
The original train hauled prestige services such as the Golden Arrow on many occasions from the Stewarts Lane depot in Battersea, London.
In 1960 it was transferred to Bournemouth, where it often hauled the Pines Express on the Somerset and Dorset Railway.
It was was withdrawn from service by BR in October 1966 and was towed to Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry the following March.
The locomotive originally arrived at the Bridgnorth station on May 10, 2012, and after some fine tuning, entered service in August 2012.
Last August, the SVR announced it had mutually agreed with Southern Locomotives Limited that the option to renew would not be actioned at the end of 2017 – with ‘Skip’ moving to the Swanage Railway for the rest of the locomotive’s certificate.