SR Merchant Navy Class 35018 British India Line

35018 British India Line is a preserved SR Merchant Navy Class steam locomotives built by the Southern Railway in 1945.

35018 British India Line
48045451028 7a120d1c36 o British India Line.jpg
35018 Dalesman excursion heading to York from Carlisle at Fothergill Sike
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
BuilderEastleigh Works
Build dateMay 1945
Rebuild dateFeb 1956
 • Whyte4-6-2
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Driver dia.6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Wheelbase61 ft 6 in (18.75 m)
Length71 ft 7¾ in (21.84 m)
Total weight94 tons 15 cwt (96,270 kg, c. 212,240 lb)
Boiler pressure280 psi (19.31 bar; 1.93 MPa), later reduced to 250 psi (17.24 bar; 1.72 MPa)
Cylinder size18 in bore x 24 in stoke (457 x 610 mm)
Loco brakeVacuum
Safety systemsAWS, TPWS, OTMR, GSM-R
Performance figures
Maximum speed75mph - (mainline, restricted) 90mph - (mainline, unrestricted)
Tractive effort33,495 lbf (149.0 kN) (previously 37,515 lbf (166.9 kN))
OperatorsBritish Railways
ClassMerchant Navy
Power class
  • SR: A
  • BR: 8P
NumbersSR 21C18
BR 35018
Official nameBritish India Line
WithdrawnAugust 1964
RestoredMay 2017
Current ownerDavid Smith

British India Line was one of the first batch of twenty completed at Eastleigh Works in May 1945, first shedded at Nine Elms shed, where it was to remain for most of its career, under both the Southern Railway and British Railways. On 24 November 1960 it was re-allocated to Bournemouth's 71B shed, but in January of the following year it returned to Nine Elms 70A shed where it was to remain for the rest of its career with BR.

35018 was withdrawn from service in August 1964 and was sold onto Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, South Wales where it arrived in December of the same year. Rescued from the scrapyard in November 1979, work to restore the locomotive began in 2012 and British India Line ran under its own steam on the mainline in May 2017.

Allocations and historyEdit

The shed locations of 35018 on particular dates as well as where it has been stored and based over the years in preservation.

May 1945 (First Shed) Nine Elms Locomotive Works
1 January 1948 Nine Elms, 9E
24 November 1960 Bournemouth, 71B
17 January 1961 (Final Shed) Nine Elms, 70A
August 1964 Withdrawn
December 1964 Arrived at Barry Scrapyard
23 November 1979 Purchased for preservation
3 March 1980 Moved to Mid Hants Railway
May 2003 to 24 April 2012 Stored at South Coast Steam, Portland, Dorset
May 2012 Moved to Carnforth Motive Power Depot.
May 2017 Made first moves on the mainline.
30 September 2017 Worked brief inaugural mainline railtour from Carnforth to York, failed at York
21 March 2018 Returned to full mainline service on a railtour from Carnforth to Shrewsbury

When built in 1945 no 35018 emerged in a streamlined condition with air smoothed casing, all-welded firebox, chain-driven valve gear, which was sealed in an oil bath, thermic siphons, electric lighting for both front of engine and cab (powered by a steam-powered generator) and a steam reverser. The original engines also had a higher boiler pressure of 280psi (later reduced to 250psi during rebuild) Owing to mechanical issues with the unrebuilt merchant navy's including an accident at Crewkerne in 1953 which involved classmember 35020 Bibby Line,[1] it was decided to rebuild the entire class to a more conventional design. This would include the removal of the air smoothed casing which would be replaced by conventional boiler cladding and replacement of the chain-driven valve gear with three sets of Walschaerts valve gear. The unique Bullied Firth Brown wheels would remain as well as other original parts which did work but the rebuilt engines would emerge in a completely different shape to their original form.

35018 Emerged from Eastleigh works in Feb 1956 and was to become the first engine of the class to emerge in the new modified shape. Following the rebuilding of all the merchant navy class engines the success of the modification programme was also to influence the design of the future modification of 'Light Pacifics'.[2]

Despite being rebuilt in 1956 it was to only remain in service for eight more years till August 1964 when it was withdrawn from service becoming the fifth member of the class to be retired from operation. Following its withdrawal from service by BR it was purchased by Barry Scrapyard for eventual disposal, it arrived at Barry Island in March 1965.


In November 1979 British India Line was purchased for preservation by Richard Heather and John Bunch, but it was not until March 1980 that the engine was moved to the Mid Hants Railway where restoration to full running order was to take place. Its total time at Barry Island, including after purchase for preservation, was 15 years. Little work was undertaken on the engine during its time at the MHR and it was later moved to a site in Portland in Dorset, but again following little work being undertaken on restoring the engine it was moved once again, in 2012, to the former 10A steam shed at Carnforth, Lancashire following purchase by David Smith where since then it underwent a thorough restoration to working order and modern mainline standards.[3]

On 17 May 2017, following running in at Carnforth, it made its first moves on the national network since being withdrawn in August 1964. It was outshopped in BR Unlined Black livery with the early crest on its tender (not a livery ever carried by this locomotive when in service),[citation needed] the engine bearing the nameplates of SR West Country class 4-6-2 No. 34016 Bodmin (34016 being a former MHR based engine now based at Carnforth).[4] After light and loaded test runs earlier in the year, it was repainted from its unlined black livery into BR Brunswick Green with the late crest on its tender. 35018 hauled its first mainline train on 30 September 2017. The train was West Coast Railways' "The Lune Rivers Trust" special from Carnforth to York.[5] It had been planned for it to work on its own from Carnforth to York and then for it to double head with 45699 Galatea on the return journey, but it was failed in York with mechanical problems and the tour was worked back to Carnforth by Galatea on its own.[6][7]

On 23 February and 7 March 2018, 35018 went on loaded test runs but on the first test run, during the first test run the engine was failed at Hellifield and returned directly to Carnforth running tender first. The second test run went without a hitch and the engine returned to full mainline service on 21 March 2018, its first inaugural train was West Coast Railways' "Salopian Express 1" from Barrow to Shrewsbury with 35018 working the train from Carnforth to Shrewsbury.

It is now the third member of the class to operate on the mainline in preservation, the other two engines being 35005 Canadian Pacific & 35028 Clan Line.

Subsequently the engine has made several mainline trips as well as operating on a heritage railway - the Wensleydale Railway.

Photographic chronologyEdit


  1. ^ Bradley (1976), p. 42.[full citation needed]
  2. ^ Creer & Morrison (2001), p. 96.[full citation needed]
  3. ^ "35018 British India Line (SR 21C18 & Br 35018)". Preserved British Steam Locomotives.
  4. ^ "David Smith's At It Again". Flickr. 24 May 2017.[unreliable source?]
  5. ^ "SR Merchant Navy Class No. 35018 'British India Line' at York - 30th Sept 2017". Flickr. 30 September 2017.[unreliable source?]
  6. ^ Johns, Cedric; Jones, Robin (9 November 2017). "Green British India Line 'stopped' at York on debut". Heritage Railway Magazine.
  7. ^ Devereux, Nigel (28 November 2017). "British India Line makes tour debut". Heritage Railway Magazine.

External linksEdit