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Bittern to return to the Mid Hants


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An extra year of Bittern

This December is the end of one chapter, but there is still one more to go for our #eastcoaststreak

Photo courtesy York Loco Images

It’s been more than eight years since Bittern first blew through her cylinders and eased herself forwards on the metals of the Watercress Line in Hampshire, after more than thirty years out of action.


We are thrilled to announce that Bittern will not be disappearing after her final mainline excursion from London Kings Cross to Lincoln on the 30th December this year. She will in fact be moving back to the Watercress Line, where she will reside for the duration of 2015.



I thought Bittern had to have an overhaul at the end of this year?

Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t continue to run Bittern on the mainline railways of Britain after the end of 2014.


Steam locomotive boilers are required to have an overhaul every seven years for mainline running but only every ten for working on a preserved railway. Bittern has already had an extension of one year and has now spent 8 years working on the mainline.


Fortunately, 10–8 equals 2, so potentially No. 4464 could continue to run on a preserved railway for a further two years, we’re aiming for 1.


Why isn’t Bittern being overhauled now, so she’s back on the mainline soon?

We plan to overhaul Bittern at the Royal Scot Locomotive & General Trust workshops at LNWR Crewe.


At the moment though, this facility has plenty of work to be getting on with. Most notably, returning No. 46100 Royal Scot to steam and conducting an intermediate overhaul on No. 34046 Braunton.


We’ve decided therefore that we want to see Bittern spend the next year working on a preserved railway, where you will be able to experience the delight of our #eastcoaststreak.


Isn’t this a change of plan?

Yes, the original plan was for Bittern to undergo an overhaul soon after the expiry of her boiler ticket at the end of this year.


Photo courtesy Geoff Griffiths

Is Bittern still running on the mainline now?

Yes, Bittern will be hauling her penultimate mainline train on Saturday 13th December and also ‘The Bittern Farewell’ from London Kings Cross to Lincoln on the 30th December.


When will Bittern get to the Watercress Line?

We don’t yet know the exact date, however she will be in attendance for their Spring Steam Gala, from the 13–15 February.


When will Bittern be running at the Watercress Line?

Other than the Spring Steam Gala, we don’t know precisely. She will run on a number of occasions throughout 2015 while based at the Mid Hants Railway, however the exact dates are not up to us.


You will be able to find out more on the Watercress Line website once Bittern moves there in early 2015.


How can I find out more?

As always, visit our website at www.iconsofsteam.com and keep a close eye on Bittern’s Facebook page.

Great news, even though she's a little out of place on the MHR, especially in LNER blue, it's always nice to have an A4 just down the road!



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This is brilliant news. The Watercress is my second local preserved line, the first being Swanage, so I look forward to possibly seeing her in the near future.

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Time does fly...I was on the RAT train on 19/05/2007 and remember seeing a gleaming green 60019 in light steam at Ropley as we passed by, its first steaming since the 1970's apparently.

I make that 7 years and 6 months to date though...unless my maths is worse than I thought?


I'm supposed to be sorting a RAT next year, perhaps Ropley shed will have a freshly overhauled 27007 (BRCW Type 2 if you will) for me to admire this time?

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