30506 was one of the second batch of five ordered in March 1917, but not completed at Eastleigh until October 1920. Once run in, holly green liveried 506 went to Nine Elms along with sisters 497 – 505, although she was moved to Strawberry Hill in 1922 and then on to Feltham in 1923 when the new marshalling yard was opened.

The S15’s went about their duties on heavy goods and on Summer weekends were regularly rostered on relief passenger and seaside excursion trains. The Southern Railway painted the S15’s in lined goods black when the E prefix was applied, but from 1928, the locomotives were painted in Maunsell lined green at their next overhaul. E506 received her lined black livery at her second heavy overhaul in 1924 and did not return to a green livery until 1930. Later she received the new smoke deflectors and in 1932 she lost the E-prefix to become 506 once again.

When the LBSCR 4-6-4 tank engines were rebuilt to the class N15X 4-6-0’s in 1934-36, our engine was one of a number of Urie S15’s that donated their tenders to the new locomotives. In return for tender No. 3210, our engine received a Drummond eight-wheel 4,000 gallon watercart tender No. 221 of 1902 vintage from a class C8 4-4-0 that was being scrapped.

The next changes were the introduction of Bulleid’s unlined dark green livery in 1939 and wartime plain black livery in 1942. This was followed by the replacement of the Urie stovepipe chimney with a Maunsell class U1 pattern chimney in 1945. With the nationalisation of the railways, 506 received number 30506 and British Railways goods black in August 1949.

During 1956, the Drummond watercart was replaced by a Urie double bogie tender No. 859 from a withdrawn King Arthur Class locomotive. She then ran with this until withdrawal on 5 January 1964 with 1.22 million miles under her belt. A group of four S15’s were purchased by Woodham Brothers, and 506 was selected to haul the group on their final journey to the scrapyard in June 1964. Unfortunately 506 failed at Staines with a blown superheater element and did not arrive at the Barry scrapyard until August that year.

The society was formed in April 1972 with its primary goal of saving a Urie S15. This was achieved when 30506 was purchased in March 1973 for £4,000, just before VAT was to come into place, saving a further £400. A location for the engine and raising the transportation costs meant that 30506 did not move to the Mid-Hants Railway until April 1976, which was arranged following a vote amongst its membership. 

Whilst undergoing restoration, the boiler on 30506 (No. 451) was examined on several occasions, but state-of-the-art metallurgical tests in 1979 determined that the cracking at the top of the firebox was not repairable. The group returned to Barry in 1980 and, by agreement with Woodham Brothers, purchased a second boiler (No. 799 off Maunsell No. 30825) and this was eventually lifted into 30506 in February 1981.

This resulted in 506 eventually returning to steam in 1987 and running on the Mid-Hants Railway for a full fourteen years before coming out of service in 2001.

After completing a new operating agreement with the railway, a full overhaul is underway which has seen the boiler go into the new boiler workshop at Ropley where extensive repairs have been completed. Society members have de-stayed the boiler where required including the complicated areas in the roof of the firebox.

Meanwhile, the chassis has been moved into the workshops at Ropley where considerable attention is focusing on the front end where the buffer beam has been removed for replacement and the cylinders are now under investigation for removal to attend to corrosion in the areas between the frames and the cylinder blocks. The main frame has also seen a crack behind the slide bars on the right-hand side welded up.

Back into service

Urie S15 506

In June 2019 Urie S15 506 returned too service after 18 years in restoration and one year prior it her 100 birthday. Having given a proper sendoff with the likes of President, Bob Urie – grandson of the great man – and our Honorary Patron, Mark Collins, radio presenter on Wave 105 and renowned railway enthusiast 506 has since been pulling trains on the Watercress Line to everyones delight. She has also become something of a photographic celebrity having been snapped by many during her busy schedule.

Enjoy a footplate video from S15 506 as she travels along the Watercress Line back in 2001…

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