British Railways, Bulleid West Country Pacific 4-6-2 No. 34092 ‘City of Wells’

After rescue from Barry scrapyard and restored for use on the main line, ‘City of Wells’ has now returned to service once again after a 25 year restoration to running order.

Built to O. V. S. Bulleid’s Southern Railway design, 34092 was built in 1949 after the nationalisation of the railways in Britain lt was originally named “Wells” but was renamed “City of Wells” a year later. When completed, it went directly to the London being regularly used on such prestigious duties as the “Golden Arrow” boat train between London and Dover. The engine also had the honour on 18th April 1956 of hauling the train carrying leaders Bulganin and Kruschev from Portsmouth to London Victoria and later same year hauled the Royal Train carrying King Feisal of lraq from Dover to Victoria.

The engine was withdrawn from Salisbury in November 1964 and sold to Woodham Bros. scrap-yard in South Wales, remaining there until being purchased by a group of individuals in 1971 who brought it to the KWVR in November of that year.

The engine was returned to service in 1979 with a re-dedication/naming ceremony at Keighley station being carried out by the then Mayor of Wells, Mr Ernest Wright on 1st April 1980. The loco was maintained to main-line standards and worked all over the country on special charters, earning it the nickname ‘the volcano’ due to its volcanic chimney ‘eruptions’ when working hard. The locomotive was withdrawn in 1989 to begin, what turned out to be, a 25 year restoration back to running order.

The rebuilding of the engine, including a return to as-built appearance, was finally completed in August 2014, triumphantly returning to traffic on the 16th August. The locomotive currently is named ‘Wells’, as first named when entering traffic, pending a second rededication ceremony to ‘City of Wells’ in due course. Being a large express engine, ‘City of Wells’ is popular with both enthusiasts and members of the general public.

34092 is currently away from the Railway following a bridge failure in Keighley preventing its return by road after visiting the East Lancashire Railway at Bury. Hopefully ‘Wells’ will return in the not too distant future.