|Class 7F 2-8-0 53806 BR Black Early Emblem|
|Class 7F 2-8-0 53809 BR Black Late Crest|
|Class 7F 2-8-0 53810 BR Black Late Crest (Weathered)|
I have been waiting for a 7F to be produced for ages now and, finally, Bachmann have done the business. So, yes, we will definitely be acquiring one of these fine and powerful locomotives to join the Black 5 (another S&D loco) in running steam specials on our layout.
Living, as I have done for much of my life, on or near the route of the S&D, the line has always had a special significance for me. As a child I travelled many a mile along its length, usually down to Bournemouth or up to Bath. Occasionally, though, we would travel much further afield to visit relatives in Yorkshire which, as I recall, usually entailed long waits at either Bath or Birmingham - or both.
Therefore, as you can imagine, I was more than a little pleased when Bachmann announced earlier this year that they were going to produce a model of this iconic locomotive and, finally, they have hit the shelves and I will be adding one to our fleet in the very near future.
The locos were designed to haul heavy freight trains over the S&D which, as many of you probably know, was steeply graded on its northern section between Evercreech Junction and Radstock. However, they were not confined to freight trains since they were regularly to be seen on many express passenger trains as well, including the famous Pines Express.
Designed by Henry Fowler, six 7Fs were initially built at Derby in 1914 and were numbered 80 to 85 - later 53800 to 53805. An additional five locos were then built at Darlington in 1925 and numbered 86 to 90 (53806 to 53810). These later locomotives were initially fitted with a larger boiler than the original six but gradually acquired the smaller boiler during overhauls in the 1950s.
The last 2-8-0 was withdrawn from service in 1964 by which time the Pines Express had been diverted from the S&D and most of the freight had gone too. Fortunately two of them made it into preservation (53808 and 53809) and often haul mainline steam specials - just like ours will!
As to which one we will get, I think it will have to be 53809 since this is one of the two that were preserved and, in 2006, its latest overhaul was completed after which it emerged in BR black livery with late crest, as per Bachmann's model.