When Steam Met its Waterloo

WATERLOO station in the 1950s was different from other London termini. Substantially rebuilt by 1921, it was more spacious and, thanks to third-rail electrification, cleaner and more tranquil. But there was still some steam: as you emerged from the Underground, soft music from the loudspeakers would blend with the singing of Drummond safety valves from ‘M7s’ at the buffer stops, while the refined tones of the station announcer would create visions of Budleigh Salterton, Ilfracombe and far-flung Padstow.

Inevitably, Bulleid Pacifics monopolise most accounts of the last days of Southern steam. But in the 1950s they were not the only actors in the Southern theatre: ‘Lord Nelsons’ and ‘King Arthurs’ backed them up; and, on summer Saturdays, holiday ‘extras’ had to make do with ‘S15’ and ‘H15’ 4-6-0s, while Drummond ‘D15’ 4-4-0s would be entrusted with Lymington boat trains.

Read more in the July issue of The RM – on sale now!

Minus its Royal Mail nameplates, ‘Merchant Navy’ No. 35003 steams through Vauxhall station on February 14, 1967, with a London Waterloo to Bournemouth express. G F BLOXHAM/COLOUR RAIL

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