Future for Swanage loco uncertain as it faces costly overhaul

Much-loved locomotive 80104 has been withdrawn from service at Swanage Railway after its boiler ticket expired, meaning that it now needs a full service costing more than £200,000.

Every 10 years, steam locomotives need a complete overhaul to ensure they are still safe to operate and they aren’t allowed to continue in service without a boiler ticket.


However with the cost being far in excess of a usual MOT and service, Southern Locomotives Limited, who own 80104 Standard, say that its future hasn’t yet been decided.

Locomotive pulling carriages through Purbeck countryside
Locomotive pulling carriages through Purbeck countryside

80104 on Monday 10th May 2021, just before it was withdrawn from service

“Considering our options”

Simon Troy of Southern Locomotives Limited said:

“We’re currently considering our options and thinking of what we can best do. But I can say that we’re definitely not going to leave it in the sidings to decay.

“It’s amazing how quickly these locomotives can deteriorate. It’s generally in good condition at the moment – in fine fettle – it’s just the boiler, but to service that, is at least £185,000. We’re getting quotes in to see what we need to raise.

“We’re working on a solution and will make sure that in the meantime, it’s kept in secure and safe storage.”

80104 on a goods train at Minffordd, 8th July 1965
M Garner

At Minffordd Station in Mid Wales in 1965 at the end of its British Rail service

History of 80104 Standard 4 Tank

80104 Standard 4 Tank was built in Brighton in the mid 1950s for British Rail and for much of its early life operated out of Fenchurch Street Station serving routes across Essex.

In the 1960s it transferred to the Western Region and operated across North Wales. But by 1965 the requirement for steam locomotives was ending and 80104 was withdrawn from service.

Locomotive 80104 at Barry Island scrapyard in 1981
Patrick Law

Languishing in the scrap yard in 1981

Scrap yard in Barry Island

The loco ended up at a scrap yard in Barry Island in South Wales in 1966 and stayed there for 18 years until 1984 when it was bought for restoration. It was cosmetically restored and placed on display at Swanage Railway for a number of years in the 1980s.

It wasn’t until 1995 that it returned to Swanage where its full restoration was completed and in 1997 it entered service on the Swanage Railway.

Herston engineering works in Swanage

Now 80104 faces another challenge in its history. It can’t be stored at the Herston engineering works in Swanage, as locomotive 257 Squadron is currently there, being fixed after it suffered a mechanical fault.

There also needs to be room for locomotive 34070 Manston that has been out of service since 2017 but is about to return to the tracks with a new boiler ticket. It’s expected to arrive at Herston works at the end of June 2021 to get a few final finishing touches.

Locomotive Eddystone
Locomotive Eddystone at Harman's Cross

Locomotive 34028 Eddystone on a test run through Harmans Cross and should be pulling passenger carriages soon

“Eddystone successfully completed its first test run”

Simon Troy added:

“In Kent, we’re also restoring loco Brocklebank Line – we’ve been dismantling and cleaning parts and then putting it all back. That’s been keeping us busy during lockdown and that’s a real jigsaw puzzle! And then there’s loco Sidmouth, which is still in parts with bits all over the place, so there’s lots to do.

“The good news is that Eddystone, which has just been restored, successfully completed its first test run on Swanage Railway – it’s all working and I’m really relieved.

“We’ll keep everyone updated with what’s happening and as soon as we have news on 80104 we’ll let everyone know the plan!”

Locomotives Eddystone and 80104

A moment in time on Monday 10th May 2021 when locomotives 34028 Eddystone and 80104 Standard were both on the tracks together at Swanage Railway

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