34101 "Hartland" is a member of a 110-strong class of lightweight 4-6-2 Pacifics designed by Oliver Bulleid and built between 1945 and 1951 for the Southern Railway and latterly British Railways. Initially built with distinctive sloping sides for streamlining purposes, they immediately acquired the nickname "spam cans" like their big sisters the Merchant Navy class, but sixty locos including "Hartland" were rebuilt to a more conventional appearence between 1957 and 61 due to problems with some of the innovative features of the engine such as the troublesome chain-driven valve gear.

The first 48 locos were named after places in the West Country - Hartland is a little village on the north Devon coast - but when it was realised that they would be widely used further afield, later batches were named after RAF squadrons and leaders such as Churchill and Dowding, and as a result there are two "classes" - West Country and Battle of Britain - that are really all the same bar the naming convention.

"Hartland" herself was one of the last of the class to be withdrawn, surviving until the end of BR steam in 1967. Having worked on the Great Central at Loughborough for a number of years before coming here, she is having a large overhaul, with the boiler being away for work.

Image taken by John Wiltshire, thanks to Peter Brabham for the use of this photo, a colourised slide from his collection. View Peter's Flickr.