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The Adams Radial Tank Locomotive

Image of CRAIG WEATHERLEYCRAIG WEATHERLEY takes us through a brief history of this locomotive, which is the subject of several models this year.


These strange looking locomotives were the workhorse of their day, working passenger traffic along the south coast, and in and around the suburban network of London - as well as working on smaller branch lines. The locomotive was designed by William Adams, and the London and South Western Railway contracted four other loco works to build the class as the LSWR works were too busy at the time to take the work. Production started in 1882 and continued until 1885. There were a total of 71 made of which only one survives to the current day, which is preserved on the Bluebell Railway in East Sussex (BR number – 30583 / LSWR number – 488).

Adams Radial Tank Locomotive image.

The Lyme Regis branch line was home to three Adams Radials after Nationalisation of the railways in 1948, which were No.30582, 30584 and 30583; they were used day in day out on this branch because of its tremendous pulling power and 4-4-2 wheel arrangement, which was perfect for the tight curves along the line.

No.30583 was originally bought by Southern Railway as a third Adams Radial was needed for the Lyme Regis branch line to cover loco unavailability. 30583 was found intact but condemned on the East Kent Railway in March 1946 and was bought for £120, and after buying it Southern Railway had it hauled down to Eastleigh Loco Works where it received a full overhaul and received an updated number.

In 1961 the three Adams Radials on the Lyme Regis branch were showing their age from years of running, so the Lyme Regis management team decided to modify the track to enable other more powerful locomotives, and the Adams Radials were retired. When Dr Beeching closed the line in 1965 No.30582 and 30584 were sent to be scrapped however No.30583 was purchased by the Bluebell railway because of its boiler condition, and was the last locomotive to come out of withdrawal on the Lyme Regis Line.

After several spells in traffic over the last 30 years on the Bluebell Railway, its boiler is stopping it running, so she sits static waiting to be repaired and steamed again.

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OO Scale Adams Radial Locomotive

Oxford Rail produce a wide variety of Adams Radial Tank Locomotives in various different liveries.

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