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Steam Locomotives of the West Somerset Railway
STEAM LOCOMOTIVES OF THE WEST SOMERSET RAILWAY.
The following is a list of steam engines based on or associated with the West Somerset Railway. Please note that they will not all be in service at any one time and may be in the workshops being serviced. There is no regular public access to the Railway’s workshops but they are usually open to the public on Steam Gala weekends.BRITISH RAILWAYS WESTERN REGION "MANOR” CLASS 4-6-0 7828 "NORTON MANOR”
The "Manor” Class was designed by C.B. Collett for work on the lighter built main lines of the Great Western, such as the former Cambrian system in Mid Wales, and the first 20 emerged from Swindon Works in 1938. A further 10 were built by the Western Region, also at Swindon, in 1950 and 7828 was one of these.
The loco spent most of its 15 year B.R. career on the Cambrian. It then went to the Barry Yard before being purchased by Mr Ken Ryder and it moved to the WSR from the East Lancs Railway in the 1990’s. Mr Rtder subsequently sold it to the WSR and it is approaching the end of a heavy overhaul. 7828 was known throughout its mainline and earlier WSR career as "Odney Manor” but in 2011 was named "Norton Manor” in honour of the base of 40 Commando which is the neighbour of the line at Norton Fitzwarren. Just to confuse things the original plans for the class included extra locomotives and the never-built 7830 was due to be named "Norton Manor”.
There are two more "Manors” with
WSR connections, both from the 1950 batch.
7820 "Dinmore Manor” was
purchased by Dinmore Manor Locomotive Limited from the Gwili Railway. It was a
regular performer on the line in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s before being
withdrawn for overhaul which is now underway at Tyseley in Birmingham.
7821 "Ditcheat Manor” is owned by
the West Somerset Railway Association but is not presently fit for service and
is on display in STEAM Museum in Swindon.
SOMERSET & DORSET JOINT
RAILWAY 7F CLASS 2-8-0 88
The first major locomotive overhaul to be completed by the WSR back in 1987 after much preliminary work carried out at Radstock and Washford by its owners the Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust. It ran just under 50,000 miles over the WSR after this before a further major overhaul at the end of the 20th century which entailed almost complete reconstruction of the boiler. Number 88 is one of two surviving members of an original class of eleven designed for working heavy freight trains over the Mendip Hills although they were also used on holidays trains between Bath and Bournemouth.
The engine was built by Robert Stephenson and Sons in 1925 and originally carried a non-standard 5 feet 3 inch diameter boiler. This was removed during an overhaul at Derby in the 1950’s and was replaced by a standard one from withdrawn "Midland Compound” 41097. The loco was withdrawn from British Railways service in 1963 as 53808 and spent time in the scrapyard at Barry before being purchased by the SDRT as part of the abortive "Radstock Prokect” in the late 1960’s.
GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY DESIGNED "MOGUL” 2-6-0 9351
The most controversial steam engine in the history of the WSR. The design for this locomotive dates from the 1930’s but the Great Western never actually built any engines of this type, opting instead for the 2251 Class of 0-6-0. However in the 1990’s the West Somerset purchased "Large Prairie” number 5193 in unrestored condition and took the decision to create the "engine that never was”. This stirred up considerable heated debate but since its entrance into traffic 9351 has proved to be an excellent performer, well suited to the secondary main line nature of the WSR.
GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY 2884 CLASS 2-8-0 3850
The first of this series of heavy freight engines was designed by G.J. Churchward and entered service in 1903. So powerful and popular were they that the Western Region of British Railways tried to have another batch built half a century later, although that request was declined.
The 2884 series was a modification of the original design by C.B. Collett and it emerged from Swindon Works in 1942, spending two decades mainly at the head of heavy coal and mineral trains. After withdrawal it spent another 20 years in Barry Scrapyard before coming to the WSR in the 1980’s as the first engine to be purchased by the Group which has now become Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd. For various reasons its return to traffic was a protracted one and took two further decades but today it is the most powerful hauler in the home fleet. DML Ltd now wn two further GWR 2-8-0’s number 2874 and 3845 but these are stored away from the line in unrestored condition.
GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY "LARGE
PRAIRIE” 2-6-2T 4160
Technically a British Railways built machine as it was completed in March 1948, two and a half months after Nationalisation, at Swindon. It came to the West Somerset Railway at the start of the 1990’s and was restored by the "Iffy Rivet Company” a volunteer group whose workmanship completely belied their self-imposed name. "Large Prairies” were regular performers on Minehead trains in steam days and 4160 has been a popular engine with crews and visitors for almost two decades now. The Large Prairies main duties were at the head of heavy suburban and stopping trains but part of 4160’s working life on British Railways was spent assisting heavy freight trains through the Severn Tunnel.
PECKETT 0-4-0 SADDLE TANK
Built in 1929 in Bristol "Kilmersdon” is a typical small industrial shunting engine which spent its working career at the colliery of the same name in North Somerset, becoming the last steam engine to work in industry in the county. Today it is the care of the Somerset and Dorset and Railway Trust at Washford and is usually steamed to give shunting demonstrations during Gala events.
6960 "RAVENINGHAM HALL"
6960’s duties would have been the standard work for this highly versatile class, principally semi-fast and fast express trains and fast freights.
"Small Prairie” 4561 is owned by the West Somerset Railway Association and is completely stripped down for overhaul at Williton.
Diesel Trains and Locomotives on the West Somerset Railway
Most diesel services on the West Somerset Railway are worked by a diesel multiple unit train (dmu), also known as diesel railcars. Diesel railcars were introduced by the Great Western in the 1930’s, but the idea was widely adapted by British Railways as part of the Modernisation Plan of the 1950’s. The DMUs replaced many steam worked local services and proved popular with the passengers who appreciated their cleanliness, higher speeds and good all round views of the surroundings. On many services the entry of the DMUs into service meant a general increase in passenger traffic. The units employed on the WSR spent the last part of their working lives with British Rail working around Birmingham before the Cross City routes there were electrified.
The preservation of heritage diesels began in the 1970’s, as some far-sighted enthusiasts (including some railway industry professionals), recognised the fact that the ranks of the first generation of main line diesel locomotives were being thinned as some traffic types left the railways and standardisation of equipment advanced. Already, some historic locomotives such as the pair of prototype LMS main line machines and the trio built for the Southern Railway had been scrapped and without the efforts of the pioneers many other historic classes would now be only images in books and back numbers of magazines.
The Diesel and Electric Preservation Group were one of the first into the field and have been associated with the West Somerset for most of its history. In three and a half decades, they have built-up a splendid collection of machines, including as comprehensive a fleet of the Western Region Diesel Hydraulic machines, as is possible to do so (this group of engines lasted only one generation in B.R. use with the last being switched-off in 1977). Starting off in the former goods shed they have established a large depot and a heritage centre at Williton which is generally open at weekends and during Galas and if you have an interest in heritage locomotives in particular or railway history generally you will probably enjoy a visit there if time permits.
CLASS 52 "WESTERN” No. D1010 "WESTERN CAMPAIGNER”
The "Westerns” were first introduced by British Railways in 1961 and began to appear in numbers on West of England express services from 1964 onwards. Fast and powerful, the 74 locomotives that made up the Class soon attracted a major enthusiast following and their early demise, as a non-standard class, in 1977 was much regretted.
However as mentioned earlier they also worked stone trains from the Mendips and on withdrawal D1010 was purchased by Foster Yeoman with a view to putting her on display at the entrance to their Torr Works. She was also given the identity of it scrapped class mate D1035 "Western Yeoman”. After a number of years there, she came into the possession of the DEPG who have restored her to working order and restored its original name and number.
CLASS 42 "WARSHIP” No. D832 "ONSLAUGHT”
The "Warship” Classes 42 and 43 were the immediate predecessors of the "Westerns” at the head of the Western Region Expresses and worked alongside them until the last examples were switched off in 1972. "Warships” did work freight services, but their light weight construction which contributed to their high speed running capabilities reduced their braking capacity on mineral trains and therefore they were more likely to feature of fast freight duties such as van trains. D832 is one of two survivors and is on loan to the DEPG from the Bury Hydraulic Group on the East Lancs Railway. She is due to return to the E&R after the mixed traction Gala this year.
CLASS 35 "HYMEK NO.D7017 & 7018
The 101 members of the "Hymek” Class were produced in Manchester by Beyer Peacock as a mixed traffic machine but they had not been in traffic for very long before the operating departments discovered that they could reach speeds of 90 m.p.h. on heavy expresses and match the schedules of the day. As with the "Warships” their comparatively light weight (one of the major advantages of hydraulic as distinct from electric transmission which was behind the Western Region decision to go for the idea) reduced their braking capacity but they were still employed on coal and other mineral hauls. The engine was one of the first to be acquired by the DEPG and the first main line diesel to be based on the WSR. Class mate D7018 is undergoing heavy long term overhaul at Williton and recently had its engine restarted for the first time since failing in traffic in 1996.
CLASS 14 "TEDDY BEAR
The smallest of the diesel hydraulics the Class 14’s were the orphans of the storm, being built to replace the family of Great Western pannier tanks just as many of the duties performed by the panniers on branch line and local duties were vanishing in the wake of the Beeching Report. Although the engines did little work in their short time in state ownership quite a number passed into useful employment in industry. In the case of D9526 it became the works shunter for Blue Circle Cement at Westbury.
When acquired by the DEPG it showed plenty of evidence of its time in this role but since being comprehensively cleared of cement dust and restored it has been a useful part of the operations of the WSR.
CLASS 33 "CROMPTON” No. D6566 & D6575
The Ninety Eight Locos in this class were built by Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Company as a general purpose diesel electric type for the Southern Region the Class 33’s proved to be one of the most reliable work horses ever to be available to the railways of Britain, capable of most jobs except for the fastest expresses and the heaviest freight work. That led them to range far and wide from their original area and there are few lines that they have not visited in almost five decades of use. Westbury has seen them on cross country passenger, permanent way and oil trains amongst other traffics down the years.
CLASS 47 No. D1661 "NORTH STAR”
A total of 512 class 47s were built at Crewe Works and Brush's Falcon works in Loughborough between 1962 and 1968. These Brush Type 4’s have done the lot from the prestige passenger turns to the big mineral hauls and with the 50th Anniversary of the Class only a year away some are still finding gainful work on the national network. D1661 was one of the first of the Class to be allocated to the Western Region and the name it was given was from Great Western tradition (the first "North Star” was the best steam engine the GWR had when it opened in 1837 and a replica can be seen in STEAM Museum in Swindon). D1661 finished its main line career as number 47840, fitted with long range fuel tanks for cross country and other diagrams that took them around the UK. It was presented to the care of the DEPG after withdrawal from mainline work.
CLASS 03 No. D2133
In the 1950’s the freight network of Britain’s Railways included hundreds of miles of industrial and dock sidings, much of it with weight restrictions and/or tight curves restricting what locomotives could pass over it. British Railways therefore took delivery of large numbers of smaller diesel shunting locomotives to tackle these jobs. Taunton loco shed were allocated a batch of 03’s for work in such areas as Bridgwater Docks. D2133 was one of these and when the docks closed she was purchased by British Cellophane LTD to shunt in their internal rail system in the town. When rail traffic to the works ceased the engine was presented to the West Somerset Railway and is now normally used for shunting at Minehead having never worked outside Somerset in its story to date.
The British Rail Class 09 is a class of 0-6-0 diesel locomotive designed primarily for shunting and also short distance freight trips along branch lines. The 26 locos are similar to the class 08 shunting locomotives, but have different gearing, giving a top speed of 27.5 mph at the expense of lower tractive effort.
DH16 Sentinel 0-4-0 was the 2nd out of an order of 18 locos built by RR Sentinel, Shrewsbury for the Manchester Ship Canal Company where it worked until 1971. Dh16 arrived on the WSR in August 2001. Its capable of 18mph with tractive effort of 21,000 lbs.
No 1 & 2 (works number 578 & 579)
0-6-0 Diesel Hydraulics were built by Andrew Barclay & Sons at their Kilmarnock works. No1 & No.2 were supplied to the Royal Ordnance Factory at Puriton, Bridgwater in 1962 & were capable of working in tandem.
1 & 2 remained in Puriton until 1991 and were loaned to the WSR arriving in summer 94. Both locos were repainted in dark green livery.
The Coaching stock of the West Somerset Railway
The coaching stock in use on the West Somerset Railway is made up of British Railways Mark 1 vehicles dating from the 1950’s and 60’s. The majority are of a type known as Tourist Second Open vehicles with sixty four seats arranged in sixteen units of four aligned with the windows to give the best view of the Somerset countryside and the activity on the railway. There is a limited number of vehicles with compartments and side corridors as seen in films such as "The 4.50 from Paddington”, "The Lady Vanishes” and more recently the "Hogwarts Express” sequences in "Harry Potter”.
Three of the coaches have been adapted for use by wheelchair passengers. Two of the TSO’s have an area cleared for passengers in ‘chairs to travel with good views of the world around them. "Lorna Doone” is a vehicle especially adapted for the use of larger, pre-booked, groups of wheelchair users.
Steam trains also include a licensed buffet car serving hot and cold snacks, sweets, crisps, hot and cold drinks and beer and cider from local producers. The buffets usually close at Williton on the last journey of the day but are otherwise open from the time that the first trains of the day depart.
In the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard station it is usually possible to view the Great Western Sleeping Car restored by the West Somerset Steam Railway Trust. Dating from 1897 it spent many years as part of a bungalow at Stogursey before being painstakingly restored to former glories. The Steam Trust has a "Heritage Carriages Project” ongoing with a target of eventually having a fleet of vintage GWR carriages available for use on special occasions. This is very much a long term project dependent as always with finance and skilled manpower.
The Somerset and Dorset Railway Trust has been restoring Somerset and Dorset Coach number 4 at their Washford base and it can be viewed during Gala events. It was built in 1890 at Highbridge Works and spent over fifty years as a sports pavilion at Templecombe.