A member of the Southern Railway's West Country Class, Braunton was built as a powerful light weight locomotive to haul passenger trains from London to the West Country. 

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The West Country Class


Braunton originally looked very different from the way she appears today. She was built with an 'air-smoothed' casing, to increase the aesthetic appeal at a time when streamlining was all the rage.


When built the 'West Country' and 'Battle of Britain' classes featured a unique chain driven valve gear hidden inside the locomotive. They were built as 'light' engines, weighing just 86 tons, so they could run over smaller railways in Cornwall and Devon, while still being able pull express passenger trains like the 'Atlantic Coast Express' at high speed.


In the late 1950s British Railways started to rebuild the West Country and Battle of Britain classes to a more standard design, removing the casing and Bulleid design valve gear, it was Braunton's turn in January 1959. She returned to traffic shortly afterwards and on one occasion even hauled the Royal Train!


Braunton was finally withdrawn from traffic in late 1965 and was sent to Barry scrapyard where she was to languish for many years; it was not until the early 2000's that her overhaul started. In 2007 she returned to steam for the first time since the 1960s and, some five years later she returned to the mainline for the first time in August 2013.



Photography courtesy Tom Watson.