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LMS Route: Trent Valley Line

Bulkington Station: lnwr_bulk1607

Ex-Southern Railways 4-6-2 Merchant Navy class No 35017 'Belgian Marine' is seen at the head of an up Perth express

Ex-Southern Railways 4-6-2 Merchant Navy class No 35017 'Belgian Marine' is seen at the head of an up Perth express during the Locomotive Exchanges of 1948. Built at Eastleigh works in April 1945 as 21C17 (Bullied's Continental locomotive numbering system) No 35017 remained in service in original form until March 1957 when it was rebuilt by British Railways to a more conventional design and as such remained in service until July 1966 when it was withdrawn from Weymouth shed to be scrapped in September 1966 by J Buttigieg of Newport.

The SR Merchant Navy Class, also known as Bulleid Pacifics, Spam Cans or Packets, was a class of air-smoothed 4-6-2 Pacific steam locomotives designed for the Southern Railway of the United Kingdom by Oliver Bulleid. The Pacific design was chosen in preference to several others proposed by Bulleid. The first members of the class were constructed during the Second World War, and the last of the 30 locomotives in 1949.

Incorporating a number of new developments in British steam locomotive technology, the design of the Packets was among the first to use welding in the construction process; this enabled easier fabrication of components during the austerity of the war and post-war economies. The locomotives featured thermic syphons and Bulleid's innovative, but controversial, chain-driven valve gear. The class members were named after the Merchant Navy shipping lines involved in the Battle of the Atlantic, and latterly those which used Southampton Docks, an astute publicity master stroke by the Southern Railway, which operated Southampton Docks during the period.

Due to problems with some of the more novel features of Bulleid's design, all members of the class were rebuilt by British Railways during the late 1950s, losing their air-smoothed casings in the process. The Packets operated until the end of Southern steam in July 1967. A third of the class has survived and can be seen on heritage railways throughout Great Britain. Courtesy of 'Wikipedia'.