On 2nd October 2020, the boiler of Ex-SR Bulleid Merchant Navy Class, 35011 “General Steam Navigation” was successfully lifted from its frames for the first time since 1959.
The boiler was built by North British in Glasgow in January 1941 and has been attached for a total of 61 years since its last overhaul in July 1959.
The lift of the boiler followed a successful fund raising “sponsor and inch or more” campaign and prize draw to cover the cost of the suitable crane hire to lift the boiler. A fully tubed boiler weighs 24 tonnes, however the tubes, despite the restrictions due to Cocid-19, were removed by volunteers of the society reducing the weight to around 20 tonnes.
“It’s a very exciting time for everyone involved in the 35011 General Steam Navigation restoration project,” said Andy Collett Chairman of the CIC. “The removal of the boiler is a big turning point as it allows us to commence the restoration of the chassis, which will be a big project in itself, taking several years to complete.”
Vice Chairman of the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, Allan Bott welcomed the positive news. “It’s great to see 35011 take the next big step in its restoration journey. It brings a much-needed boost following our forced closure due to COVID-19. With the line re-opening to passenger services on Sunday 4th October, our customers can now come and see 35011’s progress following the successful boiler lift.”
Work on 35011 will now be directed to the restoration of the chassis and further fund-raising campaigns will be launched in due course.