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Butlins Steam Locomotives Back

During the early '60s Billy Butlin began acquiring a number of redundant steam locomotives from the national railway system. The idea was to place them on static display at the camps to provide a novel and relatively cheap attraction. In the end eight locos were purchased and two each were distributed to one of four camps (Pwllheli, Skegness, Minehead & Ayr). In the early/mid '70s it was becoming obvious they were suffering the effects of salt air and Butlins weren't keen to keep financing the upkeep and maintenance. They wisely decided they'd be better off elsewhere and began a search to try and find new homes throughout the country. Butlins wished to retain ownership but were prepared to let them out on a free loan, providing they were maintained and available for public viewing. The Transport Trust also became involved and 23 different museums and railways expressed an interest. Although a couple were sold in the 1970s the rest remained in Butlins ownership right through until the late 1980s.

No 6203 Princess Margaret Rose built LMS Railway 1935

No 6023 Princess Margaret Rose built LMS Railway 1935Bought by Billy Butlin in April 1963 after running 1.5 million miles in service mostly working the crack express trains between London and Scotland. Cosmetically restored at Crewe Works and taken by rail to Pwllheli where it arrived in May 1963. It was located next to the amusement park & boating lake. Butlins offered the loco on loan to the Midland Railway Centre (Butterley, Derbyshire) in April 1974 and work began (using volunteers from the railway) in January 1975. It was a long & laborious process that involved laying 500 yards of special track to connect up with the main line railway. Over 1,300 man hours were consumed during the next 4 months. It finally departed the camp on 11th May 1975 and was towed by a diesel along the main line to its new Derbyshire home. It remained there on static display until 1985 when Butlins offered to sell it outright for a price of £60,000. This was accepted and a new charitable Trust was formed for the purpose and work began on restoring it to running order. This was completed in 1990. Still based at the Midland Railway Centre and owned by the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust. Thanks to Clive Hanley for providing this link to a recent photo of the locomotive.

No 32640 Newport built LBSC Railway 1880

Bought by Billy Butlin in February 1964 after running over 1.1 million miles in service, including nearly 50 years on the Isle of Wight. This small loco was cosmetically restored at Eastleigh Works and arrived at Pwllheli in September 1964 and placed next to 'Princess Margaret Rose'. Offered on loan to the Isle of Wight Locomotive Society it left Pwllheli (by road) on 26th January 1973. In 1976 Butlins offered to sell it to the Society for a price of £3,500 and this was accepted. Work then began on a slow but meticulous restoration back into running order and this was finally completed in 1989. Still based on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

No 6100 Royal Scot built LMS Railway 1927

No 6100 Royal Scot built LMS Railway 1927This loco gained fame in 1933 by being shipped across the Atlantic and appearing at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. Brought back to the UK it spent its working life on fast express passenger trains. Purchased by Billy Butlin at the end of 1962, and cosmetically restored at Crewe, it arrived at Skegness (on the back of a Pickford's low loader) on 18th July 1963 to be welcomed by the pipes and drums of the 1st Battalion, Royal Scots. Offered on loan to Bressingham Steam Museum (Diss, Norfolk) it departed the camp on 16th March 1971. It was overhauled and returned to working order the following year but in 1978 became a static exhibit again after needing extensive repairs. Finally sold outright to Bressingham in May 1989 for £100,000 (this price included all 4 of the ex-Butlins locos which were kept there). Work is currently on hand to restore it to running order once more following a Lottery grant of £339,000 - this grant also covers the restoration costs of another ex-Butlins loco at Bressingham, 'Martello' (see below). It is currently at the Crewe Heritage Centre and in the final stages of being bought back to main line working, thanks to Dave Mellor for providing this photo of the Royal Scot, taken on 17 May 2009. It is hoped that the Royal Scot will pull the Coast to Coast, Liverpool to Scarborough, excursion on 4 July 2009.

No 30102 Granville built 1893

This small 4-wheel loco spent its entire working life at Southampton Docks and was purchased by Billy Butlin in 1964. Restored cosmetically it was moved by road to Skegness arriving in October of that year. It left the camp on 15th March 1971 for the road journey to Norfolk and the Bressingham Steam Museum. It's still there today on static display and was one of the 4 ex-Butlins locos purchased outright by Bressingham in the 1989 disposal sale (see above)

No 6229 Duchess of Hamilton built LMS Railway 1938

After making an appearance at the 1939 New York Worlds Fair, this large powerful machine was returned to the UK and spent its working life on prestige passenger trains for the LMS and British Railways, clocking up over 1.4 million miles in the process. Bought by Billy Butlin in 1964 and sent to Crewe Works for cosmetic restoration, it was subsequently sent down to Minehead via rail and arrived at the camp on Sunday 3rd May 1964 and placed on static display next to the Beachcomber Building. It left the camp on 10th March 1975 and was towed by rail to the ex-GWR works at Swindon where it was repainted and cleaned before onward transfer to the National Railway Museum in York. It was returned to running order in 1980 and became a popular sight on the main lines of Britain. It was finally purchased outright from Butlins in 1987 (for around £60,000). After nearly two decades on the main lines, the train returned to being a static exhibit once more, occupying a prime spot in the main hall of the National Railway Museum. The train is currently at Tyseley Locomotive Works (south of Birmingham) for cosmetic re-streamlining, thanks to Clive Hanley for providing this link to a photo of the train in the works. Once the works are completed, the train will return to display in York.

No 32678 Knowle built 1880

This small 6-wheeler spent over 80 years working along the branch lines of southern England before finally retiring in the early 1960s with over 1.3 million miles to its credit. After purchase by Billy Butlin it was sent to Minehead to join 'Duchess of Hamilton' and arrived there on 25th July 1964. It stayed at the camp until April 1975 when it was sold and moved to a new railway preservation project which would later become the adjoining West Somerset Railway (who now run regular steam trains from Minehead). It was sold yet again in the early '80s and moved to Woolwich in London and again in 1988 to the Kent & East Sussex Railway at Tenterden in Kent. It's still there today and was finally restored to running order in 1999.

No 6233 Duchess of Sutherland built LMS Railway 1938

'Duchess of Sutherland', along with 'Princess Margaret Rose' & 'Duchess of Hamilton' (see above), were a trio of LMS Express passenger locos and were some of the most powerful UK steam engines ever. They regularly saw use on 100mph+ express passenger trains. This particular engine was purchased by Billy Butlin in 1964 after running over 1.6 million miles in service. Repainted at Crewe Works it was towed via rail to the Ayr camp and finally arrived on 23rd October 1964. Billy Butlin wanted to put it on a central site within the camp but the steep approach road and narrow railway bridge prevented this. It was therefore unloaded at the front of the camp near to the main entrance and road. It remained here until 24th February 1971 before being removed (this time by road as the railway line had since closed!) and taken on the long journey to Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk as part of a free loan agreement. Restored to running order in 1974 it was used for a couple of years on the museums' short test track and was one of the 4 ex-Butlins locos purchased outright by Bressingham in 1989 (see above). In 1996 it was sold yet again to the same charity which had earlier bought 'Princess Margaret Rose' from Butlins - the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust (PRCLT). Here a Lottery grant of around £350,000 was awarded to bring the loco back into full running order and this was finally completed in 2001. On 11th June 2002 it was handpicked to haul the Royal Train with the Queen & Prince Philip and this was the first time in 35 years that a steam loco had been given this honour. Billy Butlin would have been proud! The train has done various special journeys since, including having the chance to haul the royal train again in March 2005 with Prince Charles as the passenger and was the guest locomotive for the final Shakespeare Express of 2007, thanks to Clive Hanley for providing this link.

Note: As well as owning two ex-Butlins full size locos, the PRCLT also owns a couple of ex-Butlins miniature railway locos. There's 'Princess Elizabeth' which ran at Clacton (1939-1955) & Ayr (1955-1963) and also 'Queen Elizabeth' which was at Clacton (1939-1952) and Pwllheli (1953-1971). So four ex-Butlins locos now stored under the same roof!

No 32662 Martello built 1875

The oldest loco in the Butlins fleet this small 6-wheeler had an 89-year career on the Southern Railway before purchase by Billy Butlin in 1964. Cosmetically restored it was sent by rail to Ayr arriving at the camp on 19th October of that year. It departed by road on 25th February 1971 to join the ever growing list of old Butlins loan engines at Bressingham in Norfolk. In 1989 it was one of the 4 ex-Butlins locos purchased outright (see above). It's still there today and is now restored to running order thanks to a Lottery grant awarded for both this and 'Royal Scot' (see above). Thanks to Clive Hanley for providing these links to photos of the Martello on a visit to the West Somerset Railway for a Terrier Festival in May 2006 - first photo, second photo, third photo & fourth photo. The irony is that the West Somerset Railway runs to Minehead and was the track used to get the Duchess of Hamilton out of Butlins back in 1975.

Additional photos most welcome

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