#OnThisDay in 1944, the first of the second batch of ten members of the new Merchant Navy class entered service. Numbered 21c11 and having been built at Eastleigh, to order 1189, in wartime black livery allocated to Nine Elms shed. She was slightly unique to other members of this batch in having a distinctive casing at the bottom of the cylinders to the front buffer beam. 21c11 was officially named ‘General Steam Navigation’ on 20th February 1945 at Waterloo Station by Mr R. Kelso the Chairman of the General Steam Navigation Company. She received full lined malachite livery in 11/01/47
After the formation of British Railways, she was renumbered to 35011 retaining lined malachite green with BR Gill Sans numerals and lettering. As with all members of the class the front of the cab was modified from the ‘flat front’ to the ‘wedge’ style to give improved forward visibility for the crew in September 1950. Unlike most members of the class, 35011 never carried British Railways Blue livery and was repainted into BR Breen November 1951. Following a brief three-month allocation to Bournemouth from January 1954 she was back at Nine Elms until being allocated to Exmouth Junction in June 1957.
All members of the merchant Navy class locomotives underwent rebuilding with no 35018 being the first so being treated. This process included: retaining the boiler, frames, outside cylinders, wheels, removing the oil sump and air smoothed casing and replacing the valve gear with three sets of Walschaerts gear, a new middle cylinder, reverser, smokebox, ashpan and grate. 35011 re-entered service on 4th July 1959 having run 670,782 miles in her original form. She was finally allocated to Bournemouth (some say her spiritual home) in March 1960.
35011 was withdrawn from service in February 1966 having run a total of 1,069,128 miles, with 398,346 in rebuilt form.
After a brief spell in store at Stewarts Lane she was moved Eastleigh Works where her centre crank axle was swapped for a plain axle. The crank axle was later fitted to 35026 at Weymouth.
Having been stored at Eastleigh she was sold to Woodhams Brothers in Barry in March 1967.
35011 was purchased for preservation and left Barry in March 1983 and was stored in Brighton Preston Park, then RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire until 2007. She then moved to Williton on the West Somerset Railway, where a further axle swap took place this time with another plain axle from Bulleid Light Pacific West Country Class No. 34046 Braunton. She was then moved to a private site at Sellindge in Kent during 2009.
General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society
Ownership of 21c11 / 35011 was transferred to the current General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society in 2016 and the project to restore her to original air smoothed condition complete with new crank axle, middle cylinder and chain link valve gear in an oil bath began.
In April 2019 35011 was moved to her current home on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway, enabling her to be under cover for the first time since 1966 and enable the restoration to continue at a greater pace.
The boiler was lifted in October 2020, separating it from the frames for the first time in 61 years, to allow the full chassis restoration work to commence. The boiler has now had all the tubes removed and is awaiting an initial assessment by the boiler inspector.
In August 2021 due to the initial response of members joining the Trailing Truck Transformers Fund Club we have, been able to award the refurbishment contract to North Norfolk Railway Engineering.
With 2022 shaping up to be a landmark year for 35011 why not consider joining the Society and support our efforts to put the Steam back into General Steam Navigation. You can join by clicking here.
Thank you for your support.