Port Line

One of 30 'Merchant Navy' class locomotives, Port Line was built to haul the fastest express passenger trains on the Southern Railway. They were somewhat unique locomotives, featuring chain driven valve gear inside the frames, giving their wheels a clean outside appearance.

18 Years
service
69 Years
of age
75 Miles
Per Hour
95 Tons of
engine

Merchant Navy Class

Speed & Power on the Southern Railway

One of 30 'Merchant Navy' class locomotives, Port Line was built to haul the fastest express passenger trains on the Southern Railway. They were somewhat unique locomotives, featuring chain driven valve gear inside the frames, giving their wheels a clean outside appearance.

Designed by Oliver Bullied, she looked somewhat different when built to the way she does now! In the 1930's streamlining was all the rage and the Merchant Navy's featured an 'air-smoothed' casing which gave them a streamlined look and also allowed them to go through carriage washers!

During her career Port Line was based in London and Bournemouth, working prestigious trains such as the Golden Arrow or Flèche d’Or on the continent. Port Line never visited the continent but pulled the train as far as Dover!

In May 1957 Port Line was rebuilt by British Railways to feature the more common Walschaerts valve gear and removed the 'air-smoothed' casing. Shortly after this in April 1959, Port Line hauled the Royal Train from Windsor to Hamworthy.

In September 1956 Port Line was retired by British Railways and sent to Barry Scrapyard in South Wales. She was purchased in 1982 and work to overhaul the locomotive began. She ran for a period in the 1990's at the Bluebell Railway and then at the Swanage Railway before being withdrawn from service.

Photography courtesy Andrew Shapland.