Published: 16th November 2014
The Great Western Railway built steam railmotor No. 93 made a trouble-free return to its original depot of Southall on 18 and 19 October and ran two days of shuttle services on the branchline to Brentford. The self-powered steam carriage was rebuilt under Dennis Howells over many years at Didcot. The weekend’s operations was summed up by Richard Croucher, Chairman of the Great Western Society, who said:
“The Great Western Society is pleased to report that the weekend running of its Steam Railmotor on the Southall-Brentford branch over the weekend 18/19 October was a complete success. Around 1,000 people travelled in No 93 over the two days in 20 round trips - the capacity of the vehicle is approx 55 seated passengers and everyone seemed to enjoy the opportunity to ride on the Steam Railmotor and on this freight only branch in West London, with a carnival atmosphere amongst the passengers.
Large crowds turned out to watch the train go by and the number gradually increased as the weekend progressed. “It was an important event for the Great Western Society as we could remember the footbridge at Southall where it all began nearly 54 years ago and we were fortunate to have two of the founder members come along. Also this brought Steam Railmotor No. 93 back to where it began its working life 106 years ago in 1908.
“We were pleased to have the support of First Great Western and Network Rail whose representatives joined in the spirit of the weekend to make this a truly memorable occasion.”
No. 93 returned to its Didcot base from Southall overnight on November 8/9 at a maximum seed of 25mph pulled by a diesel. The train called at Reading to allow the last public train to pass before continuing, and after official photographs had been taken by Frank Dumbleton.
For three decades, a trio of Ivatt designed steam locomotives were hidden away in a shed at The Bucks Rail Centre with one, No. 41298 undergoing restoration and another two, Nos. 46447 and 41312 stored. The owners, Roy Miller and Peter Clarke formed ‘The Ivatt Trust’ as the charitable organisation to assist fundraising for the locomotives. On June 6, 2009, the Ivatt Trust gifted the three locomotives to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway (IOWSR) and then wound the Trust up.
One of these engines, Class 2 tender locomotive No.46447 spent a couple of years stored at Havenstreet, the HQ of the IOWSR and was the first tender locomotive to visit the Isle of Wight (IOW). Then the IOWSR received a generous legacy from one of their supporters with the aim of obtaining or building a new Class ‘E1’ locomotive for the railway.
This was to complete the set, as it were, of preserved engines at the IOWSR replicating classes that operated on the IOW over the years. For the record, no Ivatt locomotive ever went to the IOW but there were plans by British Rail in the mid 1960s to send some Ivatt tank engines there.
The East Somerset Railway (ESR) was home to the sole surviving Class ‘E1’ which had not steamed for some time. A deal was reached between the ESR and the IOWSR whereby the ‘E1’ went to Havenstreet and the Ivatt tender locomotive No. 46447 went to the ESR at Cranmore. Ivatt tank engine No. 41298 began steaming trials at the IOWSR this Autumn and will be fully operational in 2015.
To mark the return to steam of No. 46447 on 26th October at the ESR, the two railways announced that agreement was reached to enable the second Ivatt tank locomotive, No. 41313, to be restored to working order at Cranmore.
No. 46447 will be based at the East Somerset Railway on a ten year loan.
The ESR will now overhaul No. 41313 on a commercial basis with an estimated completion timescale of two years, the same as it took to return No. 46447 to traffic. No. 41313 will return to the Island for regular operation alongside No. 41298.
IOWSR General Manager Peter Vail said, “We’ve been really pleased to see the rapid progress made by the East Somerset Railway leading to the completion of 46447 in just two years so, while our own workshops focus on completing Ivatt stable-mate 41298 and maintaining our regular operating fleet, contracting out 41313 with a potential return to service on the Island in 2017 just makes sense.
Our Railway continues to enjoy a steady growth in business which, in 2014, has been boosted by the opening of our new Train Story Discovery Centre, so it will be a great asset to have 41313 back in steam far quicker than originally anticipated.”
IOWSR Chairman Steve Oates said, “In utilising the skills and engineering capacity availability at the East Somerset Railway, it is anticipated we will see all three Ivatt locomotives back in service very soon. With other pressures, it was originally envisaged that 46447 and 41313 would form longer term projects on the Island. By striking these deals the winners are both railways and the railway preservation movement generally”.
After nearly a decade of operating on the Strathspey Railway at Aviemore in Scotland, the Class 117 Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) visited the railway’s turntable and was turned round.
Why was this carried out when the train can be driven from both ends? Because when a train operates on the same tracks it suffers from uneven wheelwear and the external paint also fades a different rates on each side of the train.
The DMU was based at the Northampton Lamport Railway on June 14th, 2005 when it headed north to a new life in the mountains! Thanks to Bob Faulkner for the photographs.