By Cliff Thomas

World War 1 railway veteran needs YOUR help to complete its overhaul

Published: 6th October 2015

Donations needed to return to service in 2016 century old Baldwin Narrow Gauge steam locomotive

Greensand Railway Museum Trust’s Baldwin 4-6-0T WDLR No. 778 (BLW 44656/1917) worked its final trains prior to expiry of its boiler certificate on September 13. The locomotive, the only operational Class 10-12-D Baldwin in Britain – saw out its ticket participating in Leighton Buzzard Railway’s September 12-13 Steam-Up Weekend.

During the gala it worked its longest-ever train on the LBR line – a mixed operation comprising four passenger carriages and three WW1 bogie D wagons – and appeared at Page’s Park hauling freight wagons in addition to handling LBR main line passenger services.

Steam at Stonehenge

On arrival at Stonehenge Works at the head of its last rostered service before expiry of its boiler ticket on the afternoon of September 13 No. 778 was withdrawn and loaded on a transporter.

Restoration to steam from derelict condition was completed at the Ross-on-Wye works of Alan Keef Ltd early in 2007. The locomotive returned to this works on September 17 for commencement of its overhaul. Keef’s are contracted to lift the boiler and overhaul the chassis. The boiler will be sent to Locomotive Maintenance Services in Loughborough which has been contracted to undertake necessary overhaul work to secure a new boiler certificate.

Donations still needed to complete all necessary work

The intention is for No. 778 to return to service at Easter 2016. However, the small charitable trust which owns the locomotive still needs to raise money to ensure all necessary overhaul work on the iconic locomotive, which served in France during World War 1, can be financed. It is viewed as crucial that No. 778 is back in steam and in fine fettle next year for crucial 100th anniversaries in 2016.

An appeal, backed by a benefactor who offered to donate £1 to match every £1 raised was launched earlier this year ( ). The aim was to top up funds already held by the trust to fully meet the cost of overhaul work.

“The generous offer meant we needed to raise £5,000 which our benefactor will double, thus covering the necessary amount,” explained GRMT Chairman, Cliff Thomas. “We have been delighted by the excellent response to the appeal which has noticeably narrowed the funding gap. Compared with many appeals, the sums involved are relatively small – but are crucial and still have to be found by this small charitable trust.”

“With every £1 donated being worth £2 people can really make a difference,” emphasised Cliff Thomas. “Tentative enquiries are already being made about 778’s potential availability in 2016, a year marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme and the run-up to the locomotives own centenary. People can make a huge difference by helping ensure an iconic Class 10-12-D Baldwin is available to run again in 2016 with a new boiler ticket – please help with whatever you can spare.”

For every donation of £100 or more the donor will be offered a footplate ride around the loop at Page’s Park. For every donation of £500 or more donors can travel on the footplate over the length of the LBR line to Stonehenge Works!

Donations can be sent to The Greensand Railway Museum Trust, c/o Page’s Park Station, Billington Road, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 4TN.

Gift Aid enabling tax to be reclaimed would boost the value of the donation by 25%.

An important locomotive

The locomotive, considered an icon of British narrow gauge railway history, is representative of a design which was crucial to the 1914-1918 allied war effort and, post-war, a number of the type were employed on British narrow gauge railways throughout the country. The last working example of the latter in Britain was scrapped in 1951.

Greensand Railway Museum Trust was constituted by Deed in January 2001 and registered as a charity with the Charity Commission on 18 September 2001 (Reg. No. 1088460). The primary objective of the Trust being formed was to secure the future of Baldwin 4-6-0T WDLR No. 778 including returning it to operation, which was achieved in 2007.

It has subsequently appeared at its home base, the Leighton Buzzard Railway, and been made available to be seen by as many people as possible over a wide-ranging geographic area. Visits undertaken have included the Froissy-Cappy-Dompierre line on the Somme battlefield in France, Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Apedale Valley Light Railway and the Golden Valley Light Railway – where it worked with an ex-Ashover Railway coach and wagon.

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