Preservation focus: Forgotten gems

Mark Smithers considers several important examples of narrow gauge and industrial steam locomotives which are not currently in the forefront of public attention.

One of the more sobering aspects of the current domestic heritage railway scene is the large number of historic steam locomotives that can for one or more reasons be regarded as ‘forgotten’ by many visitors to  preserved railways and railway museums. 

The reasons these locomotives may be regarded as such can vary from being locked away from public view, to having been overlooked for restoration to working order, and in the most extreme of circumstances, being in serious danger of being lost altogether through neglect.

Before attempting to detail the more significant examples, it must be emphasised in a world of finite resources it is not always possible to achieve the optimum restoration outcome, and this fact 

A rare picture in daylight of Brush 0-4-0ST No. 314, built in 1906, one of fewer than 10 steam survivors from this manufacturer. The loco was displayed at Snibston Discovery Museum at Coalville, Leicestershire until four years ago, and is now at the Mountsorrel & Rothley Heritage Centre, close to the Great Central Railway. Mountsorrel & Rothley Heritage Centre/FACEBOOK

From the narrow-gauge point of view, examples not on current public view can be found in the museum collection of the Vale of Rheidol Railway (VoR). 

Apart from ‘Quarry Hunslet’ 0-4-0ST Margaret – which regularly finds employment on ‘Driver for a Fiver’ duties’ – and ‘roving ambassador’ Kerr, Stuart 0-4-0ST (W/No. 3114), the other members of the collection are stored on a site in Ceredigion and in rural Surrey. 

The Tanfield Railway has a wonderful collection of industrial steam locomotives, but limitations on resources mean that many are out of operation, and some are sadly in the open. Black, Hawthorn 0-4-0ST City of Aberdeen (912/1887) is fortunately under cover, but has suffered some plate-work damage. This locomotive was the prototype for a design with a wider tank used by the Swansea & Mumbles Railway.

As can be seen from the accompanying table, the VoR museum collection includes such British-built classics as 1877 vintage de Winton 0-4-0VBT Kathleen; two Falcon-built ‘Lawley’ ‘NG6’ class 4-4-0 tender locomotives; a Bagnall 0-4-4T that once saw service in Hong Kong; and two ex-Gwalior Railway Bagnall ‘Pacifics’. 

As to the prospect of seeing any of these items on public display, the recent announcement of the £2.2million enhancement of the VoR’s Aberystwyth terminus under the Wales to the World initiative is the key to placing them on public display. 

Read more and view more images in the July 2019 issue of The RM – on sale now!

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