LSWR '415' Class no. 488 is an engine running on the Bluebell Railway.
Number 488 is an LSWR 415 class radial tank engine, ordered by the LSWR and built at Neilson & Co in 1885 for suburban traffic. They worked on this service ere they were displaced to the countryside by the new Drummond M7's. Most of this class was scrapped near the end of the First World War, and by 1929, the class was due to be extinct... or so it seemed.
In September 1917, number 488 (then 0488) was sold to the Ministry of Munitions for use in its dockyards at Sittingbourne. In 1923, it was purchased by Col. Holman F Stephens for use on his East Kent Railway, where it became their number 5. Purely a passenger engine, it was not well suited for the line's needs, and only used once a month, until May 1943, when it was no longer used.
The Lyme Regis Branch was run by only two of its sisters, numbers 3125 and 3520. Locomotive unavailability was the problem, and a third engine was needed. In 1946, after the Second World War had ended, the Southern Railway had a solution: they found number 5 on a siding, still in one piece, and purchased it for £120. The engine was heavily overhauled at Eastleigh works and given the number 3488, and at Nationalisation, it was numbered 30583. The other two survivors were given the new numbers 30582 and 30584, respectively.
Heavy these engines may be, they were actually very lightweight, and had a short coupled wheelbase with a guiding bogie. Their weight was spread out on all of their wheels, making them ideal running locomotives for lightly-laid branches such as the Axminster to Lyme Regis Branch. These engines were most famous for working on that line and the last three of the class' survivors worked there, till they were replaced by ex-LMS Ivatt 2MT 2-6-2 tanks, then by diesel rail-cars, until the line finally closed. The other two were scrapped, but No. 30583 was bought by the Bluebell Railway, where it remains today. It was withdrawn in 1990, and put on static display. 488 requires an extensive (and expensive) overhaul, plus new boiler barrel, before it could re-enter service.
No. 488 is painted in London and South Western Railway pea green, lined out in black and white. This was the livery it carried as built. This livery was eventually superseded by the sage green livery with black edging and black and white lining. A darker version of the livery was applied to it in Southern Railway days, but the liveries it carried until 1946 were unknown. It returned to service in Wartime Black, and around 1949 (one year after nationalisation) it was given BR's mixed-traffic lined black livery with the early crest. It was given the late crest around the late 1950's. Upon purchase for preservation by the Bluebell Railway, its BR crest was painted over and so was its number. The digits '488' were then painted on its bunker, and when the Bluebell had enough money, it was finally repainted into the LSWR's pea green livery, which it carries today.
In fiction Edit
No. 488 was immortalised in the Rev W Awdry's "Railway Series" book, 'Stepney the Bluebell Engine.' In this, it was one of the engines that Stepney was talking about during his visit to the Island of Sodor. 488 was called 'Adams' and was seen without a face.