35011 famously hauled two special railtours on the ex-Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway in January 1966, being the only Merchant Navy to run any distance on the line, as below:
1st January 1966 – “The Mendip Merchantman” – with 35011 hauling the part of the tour Waterloo – Bournemouth Central – Poole - Blandford Frum – Templecombe; returning later in the day Templecombe – Salisbury – Waterloo.
2nd January – “The Somerset & Dorset Rail tour” with 35011 hauling the part of the tour Waterloo – Bournemouth Central – Broadstone; returning later in the day Templecombe – Salisbury – Waterloo.
We have reporoduced a number of articles about General Steam Navigation's visit to the line.
The First Merchant Navy on the S&D by Anthony Wray
35011 Somerset and Dorset tour - 50 years on! by Alan Swinburne
The Mendip Merchantman by an unknown member
Orignally an anonymous 'Letter to the Editor' to our members magazine The Packet, issue 8 - Autumn 2018 and is reproduced below.
On 1st January 1966, taking advantage of a family holiday with relatives near London, I was able to travel on my first enthusiasts' Special -'The Mendip Merchantman Rail Tour'. This involved six different steam locos, starting with 'Merchant Navy' No 35011 General Steam Navigation out of Waterloo, a trip along the entire length of the Somerset & Dorset line (including the Highbridge branch), an engine failure (9F No 92243) which meant we were 90 minutes late at one point, and an enforced stop by an angry signalman protesting about the imminent closure of the line! A pair of Ivatt 2-6-2Ts (Nos 41307 and 41283) were in charge between Templecombe and Highbridge. Other locos involved were 8Fs Nos 48309 and 48760, one of which had to rescue our stranded 9F at Staple Hill, near Bristol, after a 'Warship' diesel had given us a helping shove at the rear. The 8Fs eventually double-headed the train from Bath Green Park to Templecombe, with the unscheduled stop at Binegar due to the signalman's protest. Our 'Merchant Navy' was waiting at Templecombe to give us a fast run via Salisbury back to Waterloo, where I got the engine crew to sign the rail tour brochure. What a day!