Preserved London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) Jubilee Class locomotive Bahamas has returned to it’s home at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in Yorkshire following a 6-year restoration programme. The loco, in it’s British Railway Brunswick Green livery, and carrying it’s BR number of 45596 will also return to hauling steam special charters on the mainline.
45596 Bahamas approaches Willington, near Derby, on its journey home to Yorkshire
Bahamas is due to take it’s first charter, organised by the KWVR, on Saturday 9th February from their Oxonhope station along the Settle and Carlisle line. This rail tour has proved so popular that a second trip is now planned for the following week.
LMS number 5596 was built by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow in 1934. It was a standard 4-6-0 5XP Jubilee Class locomotive, designed by LMS chief mechanical engineer William Stanier and in June 1936, received the name Bahamas after the Caribbean islands, part of the British Empire.
As part of the LMS passenger fleet, Bahamas was housed at Crewe, Preston and Bristol before being re-allocated to Edge Hill, Liverpool and then Huddersfield following Nationalisation of the railways in 1948. The loco received the BR running number 45596.
In 1961, during a schedule overhaul, Bahamas was modified to take part in a series of tests looking at improving the performance of steam locomotives. The most significant modification was a new double blast pipe and exhaust system, which the engine still has today. This gave a 30% increase in the boiler’s steaming capacity and enabled the use of lower quality coal. The trials were ended the following year, as steam was now being phased out, and Bahamas was finally withdrawn from service in July 1966. Some of its final duties were pulling farewell-to-steam excursions for enthusiasts.
After several months BR agreed the sale of Bahamas to a scrap merchant in Hull but with pressure from enthusiasts and a substantial donation from a sympathetic businessman, the locomotive was sold to the Bahamas Locomotive Society.
The engine was housed at Dinting, near Glossop in Derbyshire, and returned to its LMS crimson lake livery. In 1971, British Rail lifted its ban on steam trains running on the network and Bahamas was one of the engines selected to once again haul steam specials. It was removed from service in 1973 on the expiry of its boiler certificate.
A major overhaul took 15 years to complete and Bahamas returned to mainline duties in 1988. The Bahamas Locomotive Society moved to Ingrow, near Keighley in 1990 and when, in 1994, its mainline certificate expired, the engine continued to work on heritage railways until the boiler certificate ran out in 1997.
45596 Bahamas makes a dramatic approach to Alfreton on the Erewash line
Bahamas became a static display for many years before an appeal was launched in 2011 to raise funds for another overhaul to the latest mainline standards. Work began at the Tyseley Locomotive Works in 2013. The boiler was returned to the frames in June 2018 and moved under its own power for the first time on 27 September 2018.
Bahamas reaches Alfreton on her journey home
Bahamas finally made its first mainline test run on 15 January, with a series of successful light engine trips between Tyseley and Bordesley, before it hauled the BLS Support Coach to Stratford-upon-Avon and back. Testing is to ensure everything is working correctly and the return journey revealed an issue with the TPWS equipment and also the fireman’s side rear driving axlebox which was running warmer than the engineers would have liked.
Steam enthusiasts turned out to see Bahamas’ journey home
A planned loaded test run for 17 January was rescheduled and a successful light run and full load test through Leicester and Burton took place on 31 January.
Bahamas finally returned home on Tuesday 5th February pulling the MkII brake coach which the Bahamas Locomotive Society has purchased to act as the locomotive’s support coach for mainline duties. Steam enthusiasts were out in force along the route to follow Bahamas‘ progress. The engine left Tyseley 2 minutes late, at 10.32 passing through Burton-on-Trent (2 minutes late) and Alfreton (14 minutes early) before leaving a planned halt at Chesterfield 2 minutes late. Bahamas arrived home, at Keighley station, 2 minutes ahead of schedule at 4.18pm.