by John Horton
Today (September 15) saw the return of Merchant Navy Steam Loco 35028 “Clan Line” on the rails through Thanet. It was hauling the “Man of Kent” rail tour, organised by Pathfinder Railtours, on the Southern leg of its journey.
Originating from Newport, South Wales the diesel hauled train departed at 5.40am and travelled to Margate station, also passing through Birchington and Westgate heading in and Minster, Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Sandwich heading out.
Designed by O.V.S Bulleid during World War II for mixed duties of freight and passenger services, 30 locos were built at Eastleigh Works. In their early days in streamline form, they were used to haul the prestigious “Golden Arrow” to Dover, but were deemed more suited to the London and South Western Railway with services to and from London Waterloo.
They were rebuilt to a better design again at Eastleigh emerging in a new guise and went on to give sterling work. Withdrawn by British Railways at the end of steam on the Southern Region in 1967, they were sent for scrap, some ending up at the infamous Barry Islands scrap yard.
Many survived into preservation, 35028 Clan Line never saw a scrap yard, having been purchased by the Merchant Navy Preservation Group before her official withdrawal. 35018 “British India Line” is preserved and has main line status, whilst others preserved include 35005 “Canadian Pacific”, 35006 “Orient Line”, 35008 “Peninsular and Oriental”, 35010 “Blue Star”, 35011 “General Steam Navigation, 35025 “Brocklebank Line”, 35027 “Port Line” and 35029″Ellerman Line” which resides at NRM YORK as a sectioned static exhibit.