Bullied Pacific locomotives scrapped too early?

Re-built Bullied Merchant Navy Pacific locomotives 35015 'Rotterdam Lloyd' and 35012 'Union Castle' both await their fate at Nine Elms Shed some time in 1964. BR Standard Class 5 73086 'The Green Knight' sits simmers next to them; her fate was still another two years away.

Re-built Bullied Merchant Navy Pacific locomotives 35015 ‘Rotterdam Lloyd’ and 35012 ‘Union Castle’ both await their fate at Nine Elms Shed some time in 1964. BR Standard Class 5 73086 ‘The Green Knight’ sits simmers next to them; her fate was still another two years away.

Bullied Locos scrapped before their time, and at what cost?

Bullied Merchant Navy Pacific locomotives 35015 ‘Rotterdam Lloyd’ and 35002 ‘Union Castle’ were both withdrawn from service with British Railways in early 1964 (possibly the w/e 23rd February). These were the first of the MN Class to be withdrawn, potentially due to them requiring an intermediate overhaul which was deemed too expensive given the impending end of steam some 3 years hence. I find this a strange decision (like so many around this time) given that both locomotives had been re-built less than 6 years earlier; so effectively had many years of service left.

The Modernisation Plan of 1955 seemed to drive every decision thereafter; that, and the accountants struggling to justify spending money on steam locomotives when diesel and electric traction was the ‘future’. Given that the some MN duties were taken over by the Warship locomotives, which themselves were only to last in service for a little over 10 years, highlights the lack of planning that seemed to go on in the implementation of the 1955 Plan.

I’d love to look at the costs of these rebuilds and compare to the new build of diesels to see how close the valuations were. It would also be interesting to look at the day-to-day running costs of steam vs. diesel at this time. If anybody can help with that information or knows where to find then please get in touch.

The BR Standard Class 5 73086 ‘The Green Knight’ lasted another two years after this photograph was taken, but this meant that it only spent 11 years in service itself. The ironic thing is that this locomotive was built after the release of the Modernisation Plan by British Railways in 1955!

The Nine Elms website

In tracking down the location and date of the photograph, I came across a fantastic website dedicated to Nine Elms Shed. A brilliant archive of memories about the railwaymen and operation of the shed. Give it a visit, you won’t be disappointed!


8 Replies to “Bullied Pacific locomotives scrapped too early?”

  1. Jon Stubley

    Some folk will not like this, but I found that period to be highly questionable when considered from the taxpayers’ point of view. Much of this was politically driven, with rapid modernisation policy seen as a way of gaining votes (hence the Wilson government hardly altering the Beeching programme.

    At least on the Bournemouth route, steam was replaced by electric.

    Further north, 8 – 15 year old steam locos were replaced by diesels costing upwards of £70,000 each; many of which barely lasted 15 years themselves.

    • Admin Post author

      Jon, you are quite right. After the last railtour hauled by 46256 ‘Sir William Stanier FRS’ in September 1964, it was sent for scrap. Apparently the scrapyard rang Crewe on its arrival and said they had sent the wrong engine; it was in such good condition!

      • Jon Stubley

        After reading all this great nostalgia here, and because it was tipping down outside (plus I had sampled my home-brew), I was inspired to start one of these blog affairs myself.

        I have amassed a large-ish collection of images – some taken by me, some purchased with transfer of copyright, others not; and a few donated just to save them from the bin men.

        Would you allow? this shameless plug for my amateurish and somewhat autobiographical effort at https://jstubley.wordpress.com/

        There is not much there at the moment, but I will add items when time permits.

        • Admin Post author

          Hi Jon,

          I have no problem publicising the blog through a post and link, but there is a Text Widget that seems to be very persistent on the right hand side!

          If you are happy for me to go ahead anyway I can, or I can wait until you’ve sorted it. Let me know!


          • Jon Stubley

            Hello Ian,

            I have no idea what a text widget is or does. Sorry, I am 99% internet illiterate. I am amazed that I have got this far without disaster.

            However, I think I have removed it.


          • Admin Post author


            Indeed you have! Now all you need to do is add the ‘Site Title’ whatever you are going to call it.

            Each post you put on can have a category too. So you can group posts under something like, Spotting or Photography or Bashing. If you look at the site they are currently all uncategorised.

            Looking good though!


  2. Ian Knight

    I agree that a lot of locos were scrapped far to early and replaced with untested diesels that were an expensive mistake. The problem was getting men to work with steam. It was a labour intensive, dirty job. You only have to visit a preserved line to see for yourself.

  3. John Horton

    Wasnt “Royal Mail” or “Union Castle” one of the first to be withdrawn, due to excessive wheelslip and subsequent damage?


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