SR Battle of Britain class 21C153 Sir Keith Park
|SR 21C153 / BR 34053|
Sir Keith Park
SR 34053 Sir Keith Park on shed at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway
21C153 was built at Brighton Works in January 1947 and upon completion was allocated to Salisbury MPD. In addition to Salisbury, she spent considerable time on loan to Stewarts Lane depot where she hauled the heavy "Continental Boat Expresses" as well as the Golden Arrow on many occasions. Aftera brief spell at Nine Elms and Exmouth Junction, she was returned to Salisbury in 1951.
When British Railways was formed in January 1948 she was given her current number 34053. She was rebuilt in 1958, and in 1960, she was transferred to Bournemouth Depot where she worked the Pines Express on the Somerset & Dorset Line and she was to remain in Bournemouth for the remainder of her career with BR until October 1965 when she was withdrawn from service.
21C153/34053 was named by Air Vice-Marshal Park at Brighton station on 19 September 1947.
In November 1958 she was taken into the works at Brighton and was given a complete rebuild. This included removing the air smoothed casing and giving her a complete new shape. Once her rebuild was completed she was returned to her home shed at Salisbury MPD.
Withdrawal and Preservation
34053 was withdrawn from service in October 1965, and the following March she was towed to Barry scrapyard in South Wales. Her arrival was delayed by over seven weeks following an incident where a set of connecting rods in 34053's tender struck a bridge near Chandler's Ford; 34053, alongside other Barry-bound engines, were stored for weeks until she was eventually towed to Barry Island where she was to remain for over 18 years.
In 1979 she was purchased by Charles Timms for preservation, but it was not until June/July 1984 before she departed from Barry Island as the 153rd loco to be rescued from Barry for preservation. She was moved from Barry to the former shed at Hull Dairycotes which she arrived at in November of the same year (it is unknown where she was stored between its departure from Barry Island and arrival at Hull). Minor work was undertook at Hull with her wheels being sent to Swindon, but very little work was done to her boiler or chassis in the early days, and following the death of Charles Timms in 1992, she was later sold to Dr John F Kennedy and moved to Crewe in 1992 where a full mainline standard restoration was planned.
The plan that had been thought up for 34053 did not, however, work out, so in 1995 she was moved to Thingley Junction but once again very little work was done on her. 34053 was then purchased by Jeremy Hosking who planned to use her as a spares donor for fellow classmember 34046 Braunton. Once she arrived at the West Somerset Railway in January 1997, she was moved by rail from Bishops Lydeard to Williton where work then began on assessing her to see what parts on her would be in good enough condition to use on 34046. It was later discovered that the boiler (one of the original planned donor parts for 34046) was in much worse condition than expected and it was therefore decided that 34046 should use her own boiler rather than 34053's.
Eventually she was purchased by Southern Locomotives Ltd and was then moved to their workshop at Sellindge where she arrived on 28 December 2000. After being moved once again to the workshops of South Coast Engineering in Portland after space issues arose in Sellindge, she was taken apart and so began the long job of restoring her to full working order. In late 2008, once fellow light pacific 34070 Manston had left SLL's workshop at Herston, 34053 was transferred to Herston Works where her restoration was to continue.
Because her original tender had been lost during her time at Barry Island a brand new tender had to be built for 34053 as well as new tender wheelsets, tender frames, tank and all the other required pieces.
Return to Steam
34053's restoration was completed in May 2012; however, because her originally intended home at the Swanage Railway had no use for her as they already had fellow SLL based engines 34028 Eddystone and 34070 Manston both operational and running on the line, it was decided to base the loco for the foreseeable future at the Severn Valley Railway. Following weeks of testing and running in on the line she entered service in August 2012.
On Sat 31 August 2013 a naming ceremony was held at Bridgnorth to re-dedicate the locomotive in honour of Sir Keith Park; the locomotive was re commissioned by the New Zealand High Commissioner Sir Lockwood Smith.
Presently 34053 is only able to operate on heritage railways as she is not certified to operate on Network Rail.
Fame in Preservation
On Friday 26 October 2012 34053 made a guest appearance in one of that years Children in Need events when she took part in a race between the Severn Valley Railway and the Morgan car company and would start off at Bridgnorth with both racing to Kidderminster with both the car and train calling at intermediate stations to collect tokens. Sky Sports commentator Vicky Gomersall was on the footplate of 34053 while the car (a Morgan 3-Wheeler) was driven by Coronation Street actor Tony Hirst.
In the end 34053 lost to the Morgan by 5 minutes, but the event managed to raise a large amount of money for Children in Need as the train was a sell out at £20pp. The event was shown on the BBC1 Children in Need evening on Friday 16 November (the event only being shown in the midlands broadcast).