The P-class tank locomotives were, in design terms, an updated copy of the LBSCR Terriers. There were eight built in 1909/1910 and they were used initially to supplement and replace a series of steam rail-motors which had been bought only a few years before, and which were proving under powered. The P-class locos were only marginally more successful than the rail-motors, and were themselves quickly overtaken by increasing traffic and heavier loads. From 1912, they were increasingly relegated to shunting duties, as shed and station pilots, a role for which, with the unsurpassed SECR-designed steam reverser, they were ideal. No.27 was re-allocated to Reading shed in July 1914.

Southern Railway days allocated to Dover Marine 74C working the docks at Dover

From 24 April 1915 until 30 October 1916, No.27 together with No.753 was engaged in military work being shipped across the Channel for war service at Boulogne. The SECR were contracted to construct exchange sidings at the docks in Boulogne for the trans-shipping of Munitions and other stores. Whilst there she was painted unvarnished olive green and (Un-confirmed) re-numbered as ROD No.5027.

Post war the members of the class were common at places such as Dover and from 1938 onwards were the only locomotives allowed to shunt Kingston Wharf at Shoreham Harbour.

As BR No.31027 the loco came to the Bluebell in 1961, the Railway’s third engine, and for two years carried the name “Primrose”. In 1963 it was repainted into full SECR passenger livery, and, with No.323, was a mainstay of the Bluebell’s operational fleet for much of that decade, carrying the flag forward into the early 1970s. It has been said that it has only been in preservation days that the P-class have been able to demonstrate their true usefulness, with their greater water capacity compared to a Terrier proving quite an advantage. No.27 was withdrawn from traffic in November 1974 and stored prior to restoration.

SECR 27 just south of the old loco shed next to the old lobby at Sheffield Park on 27 March 1971 (Gerry Butler)

The restoration began when the loco was dismantled in 1978 for a “quick” overhaul, but, as was so often the case at the time, this was found to be beyond the skills of the basic workshop capability we had back then, so the restoration stalled.

A restart on the restoration of No.27 to working condition has recently begun following a delay of nearly 30 years. The work on the locomotive is being undertaken by the Little Loco Group and supported by the Fenchurch Fund. Major work is required on the boiler and frames of the locomotive, as well as some significant mechanical renewal and replacement of plate work, including the tanks.

Working Life
  • 28th February 1910: Built at Ashford Works and allocated to the Isle of Sheppey Light Railway to substitute for the former LBSCR Terrier Waddon locally nicknamed Little Tich. 27 was put to trial to compare the new class of P tanks against the Terriers until 1912.
  • 1914: Allocated to Reading till the out break of War.
  • April 1915 to September 1916: Painted into ROD colours along with class mate 753 and sent to Boulogne as ROD 27 to help with the construction and working of the war times dockyard.
  • 1923: Painted in Maunsell passenger green & allocated to Folkstone.
  • 1936: re-number 1027, painted SR black and allocated to shunting duties.
  • March 1946: Allocated to Dover Marine 74C.
  • 1951 31027 loaned to Betteshanger Colliery (NCB).
  • January 1952: Return to Dover Marine (Stored).
  • March 1952: Moved to Eastleigh 71A (Stored).
  • June 1952: Moved to Fratton 71D (Stored). 
  • December 1952: Moved to Ashford 74A (Stored/Re-Commissioned).
  • July 1953: Allocated to Dover Marine.
  • Oct 1955: on standby at St Leonards for Tenterden goods due to lack of available ex-LBSCR A1X terriers.
  • 1958: loaned to Chislet Colliery.
  • 31 March 1961: Withdrawn.
  • 18 June 1961: Arrived as the Bluebell Railway’s 3rd Engine.

Class: P
Wheels: 0-6-0T
Built: 1910 at Ashford Works, SECR
Entered Traffic: 19 February 1910, Sheerness shed, for use on Isle of Sheppey Light Railway
Class Introduced: 1909
Designer: Harry S. Wainwright
Total number built: 8

Arrived on Bluebell Railway: 18 June 1961
Current Number: A27
Previous Numbers carried: SECR: 27, ROD: 5027, SR: 1027, BR: 31027
Last operational: November 1974

Length: 24ft 1in
Weight: 28 Tons 10 cwt
Water capacity: 550 Gallons
Coal capacity: 18 cwt
Boiler Pressure: 160 lb/ (180 lb/ until 1919)
Driving Wheels: 3ft 91/8 in diameter
Cylinders: (2, inside) 12″ x 18″
Tractive Effort: 7,810 lbs (8,790 lbs at 180psi)
BR power classification: 0F


Little Loco Group
Bluebell Railway
Station Approach
TN22 3QL

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