South Eastern & Chatham Railway No.263

South Eastern & Chatham Railway steam locomotive No.263 is an ‘H’ class, 0-4-4 built in 1905. The ‘H’ Class engine was the standard loco for the SECR’s suburban services and were a popular locomotive in later years for services on rural branch lines in Sussex, especially after the withdrawal of the LBSCR D3 tanks. This particular locomotive, 263, ended up working the line between East Grinstead and Three Bridges and was withdrawn when that line was closed in January 1964. Purchased from British Railways by the H-Class Trust, it was initially located at Robertsbridge, but soon found a home at the South Eastern Steam Centre at Ashford, where the engine appeared at various open days. In1975 the Trustees decided that the locomotive would have much more scope for running if based on the Bluebell Line. Since then it has had two periods in steam. In 2008 ownership was transferred to the Bluebell Railway Trust, which funded an overhaul which started in March 2009, with a return to service, again in full Edwardian SECR livery, in July 2012.

This image was shot on 10 April 2017 as the locomotive was about to leave for East Grinstead.

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