S&DJR 7F 2-8-0
The Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR) 7F 2-8-0 is a class of steam locomotive designed for hauling heavy coal and goods trains. Eleven were built in two batches in 1914 and 1925, and were used until withdrawal between 1959 and 1964. Two are preserved.
The Midland Railway, joint owners of the S&DJR with the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR), were in charge of locomotive policy on the line. The S&DJR was heavily graded and required power over and above what was available from the Midland’s small engines.
As the locomotives were initially too large for some of the turntables, it was envisaged that they would spend half their time travelling in reverse. Consequently, they were fitted with tablet exchanging apparatus on both sides of the locomotive. In addition, the first six were equipped with cab tenders, but these were later removed circa 1920. The 1914-built locomotives were right-hand drive, while the 1925-built were left-hand drive.
Six were built in 1914 and numbered 80–85 by the S&DJR. In 1925 an additional 5 were ordered from Robert Stephenson and Company in Darlington and built with the larger G9BS boilers, becoming numbers 86–90.
On 20 November 1929, locomotive No. 89 (Later 53809) Was taking a freight train north towards Bath and when traveling through Combe Down Tunnel due to the train moving slowly (which wasn’t helped due to the weight of the train and the stop at Midford) the crew of the engine were overcome by the smoke resulting in the train running away down the hill crashing in the goods yard outside Bath Green Park, the driver Henry Jennings and two shunters in the yard were killed in the accident.
No.89/53809 is now owned by John Moorhouse and operated by the 13809 Preservation Society Ltd. Following restoration at Swanwick in 1980 in LMS livery as 13809, it worked through the 1980s and early 1990s, reverting to its BR Number 53809 in 1987 (with the Early Crest), before being withdrawn for overhaul in 1994.
The locomotive emerged in January 2006 in BR Black Livery as No. 53809 (with the Late Crest), entering service in early February at the Midland Railway – Butterley. Shortly after this overhaul was finished, the loco made a poignant return to the site of Bath Green Park Station (now a car park for Sainsbury’s) in March 2006, to celebrate 40 years since the S&D closed, after which it was reunited with No. 88 at the WSR. The locomotive then ran for 5 years before it was withdrawn from service early in 2011, requiring boiler repairs. The engine’s second overhaul was completed in February 2016, keeping its previous BR livery with the Post 1956 Crest. In January 2018 it came to the North Norfolk Railway on a long term operational contract.