34070 “Manston” replaces 34053 at West Somerset Railway “Withered Arm” Spring Steam Gala
(20/01/2014 @ 13:31:00)Following the news that Rebuilt "Battle of Britain” Pacific 34053 "Sir Keith Park” will not be available for the West Somerset Railway’s Spring Steam Gala the WSR’s Special Events Planning Team is pleased that it has been able to secure "Unrebuilt” 34070 "Manston” as a replacement. It will be the second time that 34070 has appeared on the WSR and will be joining debutants GWR "Mogul” 5322 and "U” Class 31806. SEPT is continuing to work to secure a fourth "guest” engine for the March 27th to 30th event to augment the WSR’s home –based fleet.
34070 was the last steam locomotive to be built, at Brighton, by the Southern Railway before the nationalisation of British Railways and between 1950 and 1961 it worked services into Kent and along the Brighton line. It was then moved to Exmouth Junction and worked over the "Withered Arm” network of Southern lines in North Devon and Cornwall, making it a particularly appropriate choice for the theme of the Gala. It was withdrawn in 1964 and spent 18 years in Woodhams Yard at Barry. Restoration began at Richborough Power Station and was continued at the Great Central Railway before it eventually moved to Sellindge and became part of the Southern Locomotives Limited fleet. Today the engine is based on the Swanage Railway where it has worked since 2008. Its previous WSR appearance was during the 2011 Autumn Steam Gala.
Manston airfield was used by Number 11 Group Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain in 1940 and situated as it was on the Isle of Thanet it was heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe during the battle. Later it was the base for Barnes Wallis during the testing of the bouncing bomb at nearby Reculver, prior to its use by 617 Squadron during the famous "Dambusters” raid. The airfield was also adapted to act as an emergency landing ground for returning heavily damaged bomber aircraft. Today it is used for civilian flying as Kent International Airport.
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