Heritage Steam News

A selection of December news from heritage railways.

Computer Modelling of P2 ‘Mikado’

The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, which built the new main line steam locomotive A1 No. 60163 Tornado, has initiated the first step towards constructing a companion - a P2 ‘Mikado’ in original smoke deflector form.

This potential project was announced in 2010 but put on hold while issues with Tornado’s boiler were resolved. Now, Delta Rail has been appointed to commence computer modelling studies of the proposed locomotive.

Using their Vampire software, a computer model of Tornado is being created to produce data which will be compared with real data gathered from operating Tornado to validate the computer modelling process. With this accomplished a computer model of a P2 will be ‘built’ and studied, revealing any issues to be considered and identifying any design modifications potentially required for the locomotive to operate on the main line.

WSR Fleet for 2012 Includes Raveningham Hall

The West Somerset Railway has confirmed seven locomotives as forming its operational steam fleet for 2012. These will be WSR-owned GWR 4-6-0 No. 7828 Norton Manor (nee Odney Manor) and Mogul No. 9351, plus locos on hire agreements comprising: GWR Large Prairie No. 4160 (4160 Ltd), GWR 2-8-0 No. 3850 (Dinmore Manor Locomotive Fund), S&DJR 7F No. 88 (S&D Railway Trust) and the Jeremy Hosking-owned pair ‘West Country’ No. 34046 Braunton and GWR No. 6960 Raveningham Hall.

The latter is a new addition to the WSR hire fleet and was signed for a 12-month hire in November following completion of its overhaul at Williton. Braunton (also restored at Williton) is likely to leave the WSR periodically during 2012 for main line operations and the ‘Modified Hall’ will provide cover during such periods.

Raveningham Hall relocated to Minehead in November and worked six nine-coach trains between there and Blue Anchor. At the end of that month it entered the heated workshop at Minehead for full painting.

The WSR anticipates turning locomotives (mainly those arriving with tours off the main line) on its Norton Fitzwarren triangle from early 2012. Commissioning of the triangle is expected during January on receipt of a licence exemption from ORR.

Railmotor Needs Bodywork Attention

The bodywork of the Great Western Society’s 1908 steam Railmotor No. 93 requires attention after it was noted that several of the moulding strips had started to warp.

Restoration of the Railmotor was completed earlier this year (see story at www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2011/didcot-steam-rail-motor/) but specialist advice has determined the oak selected and approved by the GWS proved to be unstable in this application. There are no issues concerning the standard of workmanship undertaken at Llangollen where the body was restored.

The corrective work will be undertaken at Didcot and following the repairs, the body will need to be repainted and relined. The Railmotor should be ready to return to operation in the spring.

12in to 1ft ‘Scale’ at Warley Model Railway Show

Two full size locomotives were displayed at the Warley model railway exhibition at the NEC over November 19-20. Standard gauge was represented by the Gresley Society’s Great Central Railway-based LNER N2 0-6-2T No. 1744 while the narrow gauge flag was flown by Andrew Barclay 0-6-0T Gertrude, restored to steam by Exmoor Transport in 2009 and presently on hire to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway.

The movement of Gertrude to Birmingham became historically significant in its own way. Amid concerns over transporter access to the WHHR’s Pen y Mount terminus following alterations to the road layout from the new Porthmadog bypass roundabout which could hold up the move, Gertrude was collected from the Ffestiniog Railway’s Minffordd yard. She thus became the first locomotive based at Gelert’s Farm to transfer to the FR’s Harbour station via the Network Rail level crossing in Porthmadog and over FR/WHR cross town link metals. This transfer (towed by the FR’s 0-6-0DH Criccieth Castle) was made on November 13.

A prize draw, supported by several railway organisations, linked to the loco’s appearance at the NEC raised £518.20 for the Railway Children charity. Gertrude’s return from the NEC on November 26 was also via the FR, towed through Porthmadog by the Statfold Barn Railway’s visiting Mallet Jatibarang No. 9.

The 2012 Warley exhibition will feature new-build 2-6-2T Lyd as the centrepiece of a planned ‘Lynton & Barnstaple World’ feature.

No. 80072 will Return to the Moors in 2012

Llangollen Railway-based BR 2-6-4T No. 80072 arrived at the Severn Valley Railway in late November and will stay to work Santa trains through to Christmas.

It will return to Llangollen and appear during the April ‘Steel, Steam & Stars III’ gala, then head back to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway where it will be on hire until September. No. 80072 has already appeared at the NYMR twice in 2011, initially for the line’s 175th anniversary gala, then returning for July-August.

An appearance at the West Somerset Railway’s Spring Gala is possible but not as yet confirmed.

Mid-Norfolk Base for B17 New-Build Project

The project to construct a new-build LNER B17 4-6-0 is now based at the Mid-Norfolk Railway. The concept was launched by the North British Locomotive Preservation Group in 2008 and is now being progressed by the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust which was formed earlier this year.

The project already has two tenders, which will be relocated to the Mid-Norfolk line. One of the tenders has a tank and will be constructed as a GER type. The other, presently a wheeled chassis, will be built in LNER form. This will enable the projected loco to be presented as either a ‘Sandringham’ or a ‘Footballer’.

Design work for the locomotive is in progress and will cover strengthened frames employing roller bearings and cannon axleboxes - original B17s had plain bearings, axleboxes and wedges.

B17s worked over much of East Anglia, including over the Wymondham to Dereham line which forms today’s MNR. This, plus the majority of trust members coming from the area, means the Mid-Norfolk Railway is seen as being a natural home for the project.

The ambition is to construct the locomotive, to main line standards, in 10 years.

No Return to Steam for Shannon

The projected return to steam of NRM-owned 1857-built George England 0-4-0WT Shannon by the Great Western Society has been dropped.

It had been thought comparatively little work was required to restore the ex-Wantage Tramway locomotive to operational condition, however people involved with the loco when it last steamed in 1975 came forward with information concerning its condition not known by those who had been looking at the restoration project.

Further investigation was undertaken and the more the loco was looked at, the more work was found to be needed. The original estimate of around £50,000 to cover costs was steadily revised upwards and when it exceeded £150,000 it was clear the project was not viable. Moreover, questions were arising concerning the degree of replacement of original material which would be required.

Iron Duke Leaving Toddington – Eventual Ambition Remains a Return to Steam at Didcot

The NRM’s broad gauge replica 4-2-2 Iron Duke, a feature in the car park of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s Toddington station since it arrived for display during the line’s GWR175 gala in 2010, is about to be moved away.

The intention has been to move it to Didcot but arranging the relocation to this ‘rail-locked’ site has proven difficult to organise. A suitable wagon has to be found for the transfer over NR metals, the boiler will probably have to be removed enabling the move in two loads and a means of unloading at Didcot Railway Centre has to be found. Pending resolution of these issues, Iron Duke will be stored in a private yard in the Midlands.

The 1985-built replica loco, which at one time ran on a broad gauge demonstration line at York’s NRM, has been out of ticket for several years. The intention is to return it to steam at Didcot so it can continue to work rides over the centre’s broad gauge demonstration line when broad gauge replica 2-2-2 Fire Fly comes out of service for overhaul on expiry of its boiler ticket.

S&DRT Days at Washford are Numbered

The Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust, based at the West Somerset Railway’s Washford station since the mid-1970s, will not be given a new lease when the current tenure expires on May 1 2020.

The trust, set up in 1973, was based at Radstock North until moving to Washford in 1974-75. At that time the station was derelict and the WSR revival project not yet operational. The trust has a shop and museum at the station site, which is also the base for trust-owned stock and Peckett 0-4-0ST No. 1788 Kilmersdon which provides shunting demonstrations during WSR galas.

The S&DRT and WSR have been in discussions for some time concerning the trust’s long-term presence at Washford. The railway has now made the decision that it wants to develop the site as a civil engineering depot to replace that at Dunster. Washford is better located on the railway and has easier access for road deliveries. By notifying this decision now the trust is given as much notice as possible to plan for its future. Meanwhile, the trust intends to maintain its current operations while developing a new long-term strategy.

The trust also owns S&DJR 7F 2-8-0 No. 88 (which it acquired in 1970) which is based at Minehead and runs as part of the WSR operating fleet on a long-term hire agreement. The locomotive is not linked to the Washford site lease arrangements. Its boiler ticket runs to 2014 and the railway antipates it will be overhauled and remain based at the WSR.

Rapid Start on 2-8-0T No. 4253 Restoration Project

The 4253 Locomotive Company (previously known as the Kent & East Sussex Locomotive Co Ltd) is pushing forward with the restoration of ex-Barry condition GWR 2-8-0T No. 4253 following its move to Rolvenden (Kent & East Sussex Railway).

For over two decades this was one of five un-restored ex-Barry locos which came to be a feature at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway’s Furness Sidings terminus. The ‘Blaenavon Five’ have been progressively sold off following a 2007 decision by the railway.

Following its arrival in June from the South Wales valleys No. 4253 has been substantially stripped and is now ready for the boiler to be lifted. Components are being painted for protection following cleaning and with a heavy duty fabrication table located on a newly laid concrete pad the aim is to build a new bunker, using original parts where possible, this winter.

Limited edition prints are being sold to raise funds. The original picture, by Alison Griffin VPRMS, envisages the fully restored loco approaching Cranbrook Road. To buy a print (framed £95, unframed £70) send a cheque payable to 4253 Locomotive Company to: Mark Yonge, Little Isemonger, Cranbrook Road, Tenterden, Kent TN30 6UJ. For information, contact markyonge@live.co.uk or call 01580 7638111. The original painting was sold by a sealed bid auction which closed on December 11.

Jessie to Earn More Cash as Second ‘Thomas’

The Llangollen Railway will have two ‘Thomas’ character locomotives available for hire in 2012. In addition to its traditional ‘character’ loco, ‘Jinty’ No. 47298, Llangollen-based Hunslet 0-6-0ST Jessie (HE1873/37) will emerge from a 10-year overhaul as a blue 0-6-0T for the 2012 season. Jessie will enter the works at Llangollen as soon as it has completed its mid-December Santa train hire to the Barry Rail Centre.

Jessie has adopted this form previously. In 2007 the loco was very rapidly converted into this guise, with side tanks and a dummy forward splasher being made and fitted, after firebox problems sidelined the ‘Jinty’. This enabled fulfilment of ‘Thomas’ bookings while No. 47298 was out of action.

The original components, including its saddle tank, were refitted to Jessie in late 2009 when No. 47298 returned to service in character form with the ‘character’ parts for Jessie placed in storage.

The change back from saddle to side tank form is essentially an economic decision. Llangollen already has significant bookings for a ‘character’ engine both in Britain and abroad (dates in Denmark and the Netherlands are already in the 2012 diary) and such appearances will generate more income for Jessie than would be the case in its true form.

The Llangollen railway manages several ex-industrial locomotives:

Kitson 0-6-0ST (5459/32) Austin No. 1 will spend 2012 at the Lavender Line on a continuing hire.

RSH 0-6-0ST (7849/1955) No. 47 Moorbarrow will continue on hire to the East Somerset Railway during 2012.

Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T Jennifer will remain on hire to the Gwili Railway.

Trains Pass at Gotherington

The first public Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway trains (a dining service and a Santa train) passed each other at Gotherington on December 4. This followed completion of the passing loop close to Gotherington station on November 22.

The G-WR had been looking forward to commissioning the passing loop, which divides the continuous section between Winchcombe and Cheltenhan Race Course thus adding much operating flexibility, for the line’s GWR175 gala in 2010. These hopes were dashed when the embankment at Gortherington collapsed in the spring just prior to the gala.

With the embankment repaired and the main line reinstated back to Cheltenham in April 2011 it was possible to recommence work on the loop and signalbox installation.

Meanwhile, the G-WR line remains severed at Chicken Curve near Winchcombe where another embankment collapsed last January. Tests on trial soil nails driven into the bank behind the main landslip have produced promising results and repair designs are being put out to tender. However, arrangements for access to adjacent land still have to be agreed before repair works can commence.

Volunteers Developing MER Postal Exhibition Project

The Laxey and Lonan Heritage Trust, with sponsorship help from Isle of Man Post, aims to develop an exhibition at Laxey Goods Shed recording the carriage of mail on the Manx Electric Railway. Vans carried bagged mail over the MER route linking Douglas and Ramsey, while MER conductors were enrolled as auxiliary postmen and emptied post daily from mail boxes at lineside halts until 1975.

Trust volunteers have rebuilt Manx Electric Railway open wagon No. 10. This is the first item of MER rolling stock to be completely restored by volunteers. The 1897/98-built wagon had been converted into an overhead maintenance tower wagon and was used in this role between the 1970s and late 1990s. The volunteer group set about returning it to its original form at Easter 2009 and completed the project earlier this year.

With this success behind them, the L&LHT team is now setting about restoring two four-wheel covered vans which carried bagged mail between Douglas and Ramsey which will form part of the new exhibition. The vehicles are Van No. 3 (built 1894) and Van No. 16 (built 1908).

If you would like to assist the van restorations and creation of the exhibition area the trust would welcome donations which can be sent to the Laxey and Lonan Heritage Trust, ‘West Lynne’, Mateland Drive, Laxey, Isle of Man, IM4 7NF.

End in Sight for Vulcan-Built 'Austerity' Restoration

Vulcan Foundry-built 'Austerity' 0-6-0ST (5309/45) should return to steam around the middle of 2012. Although said to have still been warm when collected from the NCB for preservation in 1973, it has never steamed since its industrial days.

Restoration was largely undertaken at the Colne Valley Railway with the loco moving to the Llangollen Railway in April 2006 where the boiler, repaired by McEwen’s, was to be mounted in the frames and the loco finally returned to steam.

The long restoration appeared complete in mid-2007, but there were issues relating to work done to the boiler prior to its delivery to Llangollen. While these were debated the locomotive, effectively restored but without a boiler in the frames, was put aside in store.

As the end of 2011 approached, all concerned parties have reached agreement on the way forward. Llangollen Engineering has been contracted to undertake the necessary work and commenced removing stays and stripping the boiler.

Hopefully the boiler will be completed and ready to return to the frames early in the coming summer. After several years of storage, the chassis will have to be checked over but significant attention is not anticipated.

Sir Gomer is Wallingford Santa Loco

Cholsey & Wallingford Railway steam-hauled Santa trains are being worked by Battlefield Line (Shackerstone Railway) based Peckett 0-6-0ST Sir Gomer. Summer steam at Wallingford had been supplied by the Great Western Railway Preservation Group’s RSH 0-4-0ST Birkenhead (7386/1948) which had been expected to work Christmas trains, but this was frustrated when a boiler problem with Birkenhead emerged.

Stately Trains Carriage for Pontypool & Blaenavon

The Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway has hired 1911-built Director’s saloon GER No. 3 for the next three years. The vehicle is owned by carriage restorer Stephen Middleton and forms part of his Stately Trains collection. It went to Canada last March with the NRM’s LSWR T3 4-4-0 No. 563 to appear in a production of ‘The Railway Children’ at the Roundhouse Theatre, Toronto. The loco and carriage returned to Britain in late November. The P&BR intend to use the vintage carriage principally on services over the recently opened Big Pit branch.

Lein Amlwch Track Clearance

The prospect of a heritage railway on Anglesey has moved closer with Anglesey Central Railway (2006) Ltd having secured a licence from NR to start clearance work on the mothballed line between Llangefni and Amlwch. This covers 13.25 miles of the 17.5 miles of Anglesey Central (Lein Amlwch) line between Gaerwen Junction and Amlwch.


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