Bulleid Bideford nameplate comes home at last

Bideford Heritage Centre
Bideford heads a Down Bournemouth express near Brockenhurst in the New Forest on June 28, 1957. Photos: RC Riley/Transport Library

Bideford Railway Heritage Centre has bought a set of nameplates from Bulleid West Country light Pacific No. 34019 for public display in the North Devon town after which it was named.

Centre curator Clive Fairchild said that Bideford was one of the few West Country towns that did not have its West Country nameplate and it had been the intention of the centre for many years to find one, to complete a massing part of the town’s heritage.

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On many past occasions, nameplates plates had been seen at auction but the centre did not have the funds to bid. However, this year its funds had improved considerably and a substantial grant was available from local charity Bideford Bridge Trust. 

A nameplate from the Pacific is to go on public display after being bought at auction by Bideford Railway Heritage Centre.

The public and members also contributed to appeals and the nameplates were bought for £14,000.

Built in 1945 at Brighton Works as Southern Railway No. 21c119, it worked across the whole of the SR system from Ramsgate to Padstow, on the ‘Golden Arrow’, the ‘Atlantic Coast Express’, on branch passengers services and on freight trains, and was a pioneer of oil-firing. 

It was withdrawn from service at Nine Elms shed in March 1967 and was cut up at Cashmore’s in Newport the following September. However, its tender survived, having been exchanged that of No. 34023 in May 1967. The tenders frames are running with No. 21c123 Blackmore Vale and the tender body was with No. 34070 Manston until a few years ago.

The locomotive was unusual in that four nameplates were cast for it during its life, but there were only two crests. The purchase consists of an original nameplate and scroll, together with a replica crest – and as a bonus, the smokebox number plate was included too.

Clive said that he has been in contact with the owners of the two complete original sets, both including an original crest, and said that they are in good hands for the future.

A booklet that contains more information about No. 34019 can be bought www.bidefordrailway.co.uk for £5. 

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