Published 9th May 2012
BODMIN - By signing up 4MT 2-6-4T No. 80104 to appear at its May 25-27 gala, the Bodmin & Wenford Railway has secured the final element of the story of steam in the rough triangle formed between Bodmin, Wadebridge and St. Blazey.
The three day gala marks the 125th anniversary of the May 27 1887 opening of the Bodmin branch between Bodmin Road (now Bodmin Parkway) and Bodmin (General).
The final day of the celebratory event will feature a cavalcade at Bodmin General, each loco in turn running through the station and telling the story of motive power typical of the area from steam days to diesel. NRM-owned Bodmin resident LSWR Beattie 2-4-0WT No. 30587 will represent the earliest steam in the locality, while 4MT No. 80104 (owned by Southern Locomotives Ltd and based at the Swanage Railway) will take the story up to the most modern BR steam in the ‘triangle’ before diesels took over.
The full steam fleet for the gala will comprise LSWR Beattie 2-4-0WT No. 30587, LSWR T9 4-4-0 No. 30120 (both NRM-owned), GWR 2-8-0 No. 4247, GWR 2-6-2T No. 5552, ex-Port of Par Bagnall 0-4-0STs Judy (2572/1936) and Alfred (3058/1953) and 2-6-4T No. 80104.
Bill Parker’s GWR ‘Small Prairie’ No. 5521 may also appear depending on when transport is arranged to move it to York to attend the NRM’s ‘Railfest 2012’ event.
Neither of the GWR 0-6-0PTs based at Bodmin and currently undergoing overhaul will be ready to run at the May anniversary gala. However, both should return to action in time to run at the B&WR’s September 7-9 gala. No. 6435 is being overhauled in-house at Bodmin and expected to be running again in July. No. 4612 is receiving its overhaul at the Flour Mill in the Forest of Dean and should return to its home line around autumn.
The Great Western Society’s GWR Steam Railmotor No. 93 will visit the Bodmin & Wenford Railway to star in an October 12-14 ‘Railmotor Weekend’. This will be the first visit to a heritage line away from its Didcot base for the Railmotor – although it has run on the Llangollen Railway, that was in the form of post-completion trials before delivery to Didcot.
This visit to Cornwall signals the start of a tour of the south west. Following the October B&WR event the Railmotor will remain at Bodmin until after Christmas in secure storage. As things stand, no arrangements have been made for any additional steamings at Bodmin after the ‘Railmotor Weekend’, but the possibility of a further appearance is not absolutely ruled out.
No. 93 leaves Cornwall for Devon in February to be the centrepiece of a February event at the South Devon Railway. At Buckfastleigh it will be the accompanied by a ‘sympathetic’ line up of supporting motive power to demonstrate the Railmotors’ place in the evolution of branch line passenger transport. Details are still to be confirmed, but this is bound to involve auto-fitted locos with accompanying carriages plus a DMU.
Following the South Devon Railway event, the Railmotor will move to the West Somerset Railway where it looks as though it will participate in the WSR’s Spring Gala. It will then return to Didcot where it is expected to stay through the summer. A further programme of guest appearances will probably commence in the latter part of 2013.
The Steam Railmotor should be back in action at Didcot for the GWS’s early June Royal Jubilee Weekend following a spell in the carriage works where moulding pieces on the body have had to be replaced.
The superb restoration was partly carried out at Llangollen was completed in early 2011 but last September several of the moulding strips were seen to have started to warp. Specialist advice was sought and it transpired the oak selected and approved by the GWS was unstable in this application. No blame was attached to Llangollen, who simply used the material they were told to employ.
The repairs are being undertaken at Didcot, but the unfortunate result is the need to completely repaint the body, including the complex hand painted crests.