Published: 21st April 2015
The only example in the UK of a locomotive produced by Davenport Locomotive Works of Davenport, Iowa, USA was unveiled in glorious steam action at the private Statfold Barn Railway on March 28.
The 0-4-0 tender locomotive was supplied to the Indian sugar industry by New York agents Dodge & Seymour. Although American locomotives were commonly supplied to work in the Cuban and Philippines sugar industry, India was an unusual destination. Davenport 1586/1917 was probably ordered from the USA since British locomotive production at that time was largely devoted to the war effort.
At the end of its days of service at the Bihar State Sugar Factory at Ryam it fell into dereliction – trees even grew up between the wheels and motion! It was imported from India in May 2013 by a UK enthusiast and purchased (while en route to Britain) by Graham Lee’s Statfold Barn Railway.
It was displayed at SBR’s June 2013 Open Day in the state it had arrived, probably reasonably described as deplorable – lumps of wood still being present amid the motion where the trees had been cut to release it from the Indian undergrowth!
Restoration commenced during 2014 and, as has become customary at Statfold, completed not only superbly but remarkably rapidly.
Statfold Barn Railway Open Days are astonishing occasions. The March 28 event was no exception, featuring no less than 18 locomotives in steam!
SBR locomotives running on the two main ‘Field Lines’ (one 2ft gauge, the other 2ft/2ft 6in dual gauge) comprised Davenport 0-4-0 Ryam Sugar Company No. 1, Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0PT Minas de Aller No. 2, Hunslet 0-4-2ST Howard, Krauss 0-4-2T Sragi No. 1, O&K 0-6-0T Sragi No. 14 Max, O&K 0-4-0T Pakis Baru No. 1, O&K 0-4-4-0T Mallet Pakis Baru No. 5, Avonside 0-4-0T Marchlyn, Hunslet 0-4-0ST Sybil Mary, Bagnall 4-4-0T Isibutu, Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 Lautoka Mill No. 11 Fiji, Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0ST Lautoka Mill No. 19, Jung 0-4-4-0 Mallet Jatibarang No. 9, Fowler 0-4-2T Saccharine, Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0WT 1643/1930 Surrey County Council No. GP 39 and new-build Hunslet 0-4-0STs Jack Lane and Statfold.
A visiting loco, Amerton railway-based vertical boiler 0-4-0 tender loco Paddy, worked steam-hauled rides on the 2ft gauge ‘Garden Line’ (all three lines are linked but tend to be worked separately during such events) while a Motor Rail Simplex 4wDM (9976/1954) pottered back and forth on the ‘Field Line’ hauling a restored anti-aircraft searchlight on a four-wheel wagon!
The railway not only has an incredible collection of narrow gauge locomotives but regularly unveils new infrastructure developments. Winter work unveiled in March included a radically reconstructed station and central courtyard area with extended platforms, realigned tracks, a new footbridge linking three station platforms and replacement of the original dual gauge turntable with an entirely new (larger) ‘table.
Also on view were two new trains! A rake of passenger carriages (originating from Thorpe Park) purchased from the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway last year (no longer required as the L&BR commissioned replica full-size L&B carriages) were in use following repainting at Statfold, and a new train of four-wheel 2ft 6in gauge goods wagons was in action – usually being hauled by 2ft gauge locomotives on the dual gauge line.
A ‘Statfold Special’ railcar, the ‘Goose’, was also seen for the first time. Based on a Morris commercial chassis construction was inspired by the famed Galloping Goose railcars operated by the Rio Grande Southern Railroad between the 1930s and 1950s. The machine, which can carry 18 seated passengers, was present at the last 2014 Open Day but sheeted over with the intention of revealing it at this event. Unfortunately, while being prepared on the morning of March 28 it derailed on a yard point. Pending checks to establish if the problem related to the vehicle or turnout the decision was made not to run it.
The Statfold Barn Railway is a private line located on a working farm. However, it is opened to visitors on selected dates, further such events for 2015 being on June 6 and September 12. Invitations must be requested in advance by post using the form which can be downloaded from www.statfoldbarnrailway.co.uk . Admission is strictly for holders of advance tickets only – no admission on the day is possible.