Working steam locomotives in preservation 34053 Sir Keith Park.

The locomotive was designed by Oliver Bulleid, and has a length of 67 feet, with a weight of over 100 tons. This 4-6-2 light Pacific was one of 110 built-in the West Country/ Battle of Britain Class, for use on the Southern Railway. Built at Brighton in January 1947, the original body design was affectionately known as a Spam Can.

skp1 spam can

The loco was given the Southern Region No of 21C153, and named after the New Zealand born, Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park, whose exploits in command of 11 Group Fighter Command, helped to win the Battle of Britain.

skp 1a Sir_Keth_Park 1

Allocated when new to Salisbury MPD, the loco spent most of its working life hauling the Continental Boat Express Trains, including the Golden Arrow, between London & Dover.

skp2 Golden-Arrow spam can

On the formation of British Railways in January 1948, the loco was re numbered 34053, and then in 1958 it was rebuilt to take on its current design and form. It was transferred to the Bournemouth Depot in 1960, to work the Pines Express on the Somerset & Dorset Line, until withdrawn from service in October 1965.

skp3 SKP Bournemouth

The following March, along with many other steam locomotives, 34053 made the solemn journey to the infamous Railway Graveyard at Barry in South Wales, with the intention of being cut up for scrap.

skp4 SKP Barry 1

After 18 long years sitting in Woodham’s yard, 34053  was finally rescued for preservation.

skp5a keith park 1skp5 skp at barry

Ownership changed 3 times over the following 15 years, during which time the locomotive was heavily cannibalized for essential spare parts, to enable previously restored engines to keep running. In 1999, Southern Locomotive Group, who owned 34053 at that time, decided to  completely restore the loco and put it back into traffic, in honour of the person it was named after. The sad remains of the once magnificent machine was then moved to Sellindge in Kent to commence restoration.

keith park 4 text

Major work was carried out at Sellindge, and also at the Herston works of the Swanage Railway in Dorset, where the Southern Loco Group is based. Total cost of the operation was in the region of £800,000 and on May 9th 2012 the loco was moved to the Severn Valley Railway for steam testing and running in procedures, and now works regular duties there, being the heaviest working engine in their current running fleet.


On August 31st 2013 at a special ceremony, the locomotive was re commissioned by the New Zealand High Commissioner Sir Lockwood Smith.

skp8 SKP_310813_450_Joan Green crop

To celebrate this special occasion at Kidderminster, there was a fly past of a Hurricane & a Spitfire, from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

skp9 spitfire & hurricane

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