Last Blast Appeal

The Appeal for the overhaul of Bahamas

Steams Last Blast appeal

The Bahamas Locomotive Society (BLS) bought 45596 Bahamas in 1967, following its withdrawal from service at Stockport Edgeley Motive Power Depot.  Since then the locomotive has been overhauled twice.  Firstly by the Hunslet Engine Company in Leeds (completed March 1968), and then by Society members (completed during August 1988) when the engine was housed at the BLS’s then base at Dinting Railway Centre near Glossop in Derbyshire.

During its first overhaul it was repainted in LMSR crimson-lake livery and numbered 5596, but during its second overhaul it was restored authentically in British Railways brunswick green livery with its BR number 45596. After its first overhaul Bahamas was selected by BR to be one of the few locomotives chosen to haul a series of embryonic ‘Return to Steam’ excursions. Following its second repair we ran it on the main line (1989 – 1994) before it operated on several heritage railways until its boiler certificate expired during December 1997.  Following a long period of exhibition at Oxenhope, on the  Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (KWVR), 45596 moved to the National Railway Museum at York for their Railfest event in 2012, where it remained until its return to Ingrow in April 2013.

A small group of members have been saving regularly for several years in order to help fund the engine’s next overhaul, but the profile of the Appeal has now been raised with the recent launch of STEAM’S LAST BLAST Appeal.

Why is the Appeal called STEAM’S LAST BLAST?

We have discovered that Bahamas was actually used by BR for its very last experiment designed to improve the performance of its steam fleet. That was the fitting, in May 1961, of its double chimney and blast pipe. When we bought the engine we knew that 45596 was unique but we had not appreciated what an important role it played in the history of steam performance in the UK, a progression of development that began with Rocket in the 1820s and ended with Bahamas in 1961.

What timescales are envisaged?

With the excellent news of the success of our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in March 2013 we have been able to commence the overhaul earlier than anticipated.  This has allowed a substantial amount of the work to be undertaken by specialist contractors.

As a result we have been able to ‘fast-track’ the work which should enable a more speedy overhaul than would otherwise have been possible.  We expect, therefore, that Bahamas will be seen working once more in 2017.

Despite the HLF award, funding the overhaul is not so simple.  We can only claim portions of the cash when we have completed ‘packages’ of work and paid for them.  This means that cash-flow is important to ensure work can continue without hindrance.  So we still require additional funds to be able to achieve our targets.  And only when the project is complete will we be able to claim the final instalment of the award from the HLF.  Until then money still has to be found and hence why the Appeal continues.

Once Bahamas has been repaired to the high standards demanded by our Society and, of course, to comply with the stringent operating requirements, we have some exciting plans for the engine.  It is to be overhauled to ‘main-line’ standards, and so will be able to once again operate over both main and ‘heritage’ lines in the UK.

How can you help?

There are several ways in which you can help.  These include:-
- One-off donation
- Regular donations
- Sponsorship of various items e.g. wheels, boiler, chimney, tubes etc.

We are offering the option of receiving complimentary membership of the Bahamas Locomotive Society for the following amount of contributions.

  • Donations between £50 and £249 – 1 year’s Membership
  • Donations between £250 and £499 – 5 year’s Membership
  • Donations over £500 – Life Membership.

All donors will be kept informed on a regular basis about the progress we make to get 45596 in action again.
As a Registered Charity (no. 259626), we can re-claim tax paid under the Gift Aid Scheme, thereby enhancing your donation(s) by 25%.
The names of all who support STEAM’S LAST BLAST APPEAL will be noted and recorded in an appropriate way in the Society’s Museum at Ingrow.

The Action You Could Take

For one-off and regular donations, please download the appropriate form below and send it to:  Mr C.P.Ritchie, 41 Beech Park, West Hill, Ottery St Mary, Devon.  EX11 1UG.  Email Paul Ritchie
We will record your qualification for the Incentive Scheme (if applicable), and acknowledge accordingly.
If you wish to sponsor a particular item, please contact the Appeal’s Co-ordinator, John Hillier phone 01572 747706 or Email John Hillier


Donations to STEAM’S LAST BLAST APPEAL will be added to the ‘Diamond Jubilee Appeal’ account originally established for donations from society members and supporters.

Download Form

£115,000 has been raised, and a new double-chimney casting has been manufactured, to replace the life-expired original, as a symbol of the commencement of the project.

Click on link above to download the donations form.  Thank you.


You can also donate by text using ‘JustGiving’

Just text the number 70070 – and

  • to donate £2 – enter Jube35 £2
  • to donate £5 – enter Jube35 £5
  • to donate £10 – enter Jube35 £10

You will receive a text acknowledgement and also details of a website for UK taxpayers to GIFT AID your donation, thus increasing its value by 25%.