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Incorporating a number of new developments in British steam locomotive technology, the design of the Merchant Navy class was among the first to use welding in the construction process; this enabled easier fabrication of components during the austerity of the war and post-war economies. The locomotives featured thermic syphons and Bulleid's innovative, but controversial, chain-driven valve gear. The class members were named after the Merchant Navy shipping lines involved in the Battle of the Atlantic, and latterly those which used Southampton Docks, a publicity masterstroke by the Southern Railway, which operated Southampton Docks during the period.
Due to problems with some of the more novel features of Bulleid's design, all members of the class were rebuilt by British Railways during the late 1950s, losing their air-smoothed casings in the process. The Merchant Navy class operated until the end of Southern steam in July 1967. A third of the class has survived and can be seen on heritage railways throughout Great Britain.
The Holland-Afrika Line entered service in November 1948 and was withdrawn in February 1957, it's BR number 35023. The loco was scrapped at J. Buttigieg, Newport in 1968.
Digital control (DCC) has many advantages over the conventional DC control, however arguably the most dramatic bonus of operating DCC must be the advantages of Operating locomotives fitted with sound. How wonderfully alive can a layout become when sound can be heard from the locomotives? What can be more evocative than the sound of West Country locomotive pulling a full rake of teak coaches, running at full throttle with its whistle blowing as it rushes through a station? Or the sound of coal being shovelled as a Merchant Navy class locomotive sits patiently building up a head of steam ready to move off once the West Country has passed through. All this is possible with Hornby Digital Sound fitted locomotives.