The 21st September 2005 was a milestone in the history of Coleford Great Western Railway Museum?s Peckett locomotive (above). Already at an age when most people are looking at retirement, it began a new lease of life. On that day it passed its official boiler examination and was issued with a new Test Certificate, valid for? ten years.
The story begins in 1936 when the engine, Works No. 1893, was completed at the Atlas Works of Peckett & Sons in Bristol. The company was founded in 1880, taking over from the older firm of Fox, Walker, traded until 1961 and was one of the foremost builders of industrial locomotives. Its products could once be seen all over the British Isles and abroad; a number have survived into preservation.
Of classic 0-4-0 Saddle Tank (0-4-0ST) design, no. 1893 was a W6 class shunting locomotive, one of hundreds of similar machines, formerly in use in dockyards, gasworks, power stations and other industrial areas. Delivered new to Ironbridge Power Station and named ?Ironbridge No.2?, it was to spend the next forty years shunting wagonloads of coal at Ironbridge and elsewhere. In 1937, it was inspected by the GWR?s engineers, cleared fit for main line running and allocated the number 182, displayed on an oval plate fitted to the cabside, just below the works plate. It was also fitted with an Automatic Train Control (ATC) device - see below and GWR lamp irons in place of the usual Peckett type.? This, together with the Peckett livery, of dark green with black and orange lining (similar to GWR passenger locomotives) strengthened its affinity with Swindon.
In 1951 no.1893 was transferred to Birch Hills Generating Station, Walsall, and in1958 came another move, this time to Stourport-on-Severn Power Station, where it was to spend almost twenty years. During its spell at Stourport it was repainted in plain green and its cab was cut down to an angular profile (below), spoiling an otherwise well-proportioned appearance. In 1977, having for some years been in use only in the winter when demand for coal reached its peak, it was made redundant and replaced by a diesel locomotive.
No. 1893?s future was now uncertain. The fate of many steam locomotives, both in British Rail and industrial ownership, was to be cut up for scrap, a sad end, often after many years of unfailing service. Some, however, escaped the cutter?s torch. Rescued by enthusiasts and restored to working order, they have been given a new lease of life, helping to recreate the steam age on one or other of Britain?s Heritage Railways. Enthusiasts had already taken an interest in no.1893 and its sister engine, 'Sir Thomas Royden' (built by Barclays of Kilmarnock in 1940) and there was speculation about the future of both.
1893 (foreground) and 'Sir Thomas Royden' at Stourport, 14/4/74
?(picture courtesy Andrew Smith, Malvern Industrial Archaeology Circle)
- compare this picture with the one on the front cover, taken on 17/4/2006
After dropping its fire for the last time at Stourport, no. 1893 could have joined the ranks of engines whose last journey was to a railway graveyard. Instead, just five months after withdrawal, it was bought by JCB & Co. and moved to the Titanic Steamship Co. near Ashbourne, Staffs. On the one hand, a welcome reprieve; on the other, ownership by JCB meant being painted in the same livery as that company's diggers; by now, no. 1893 looked quite different from the day when it first arrived to start work at Ironbridge.
In 1980 it was sold to Jeremy Walker of Lindsay Farm, Witney, Oxfordshire and the following year came two more moves, firstly to A.L. Peters of Buntstall, near Hatfield, Herts. and then to Les Searle of Horsham, Sussex. No. 1893 languished at Horsham for five more years, then came another move...
In 1986, railway enthusiast Mike Rees of Coleford in the Forest of Dean was converting the former GWR Goods Shed into a permanent home for an extensive collection of railway memorabilia. The story of how, the then-derelict, 100-year-old building was saved from demolition at the eleventh hour and renovated has been told elsewhere. Suffice to say, that by 1988 the Museum was ready to open and had acquired a full-sized locomotive to complete the collection.
The previous year no. 1893, still in bright yellow JCB livery, was winched onto a low-loader and taken the 150 miles or so from Horsham to Coleford, unloaded and placed on a short section of track outside the Goods Shed, with an ex-GWR Fruit 'C' van an LMS 6-wheeled passenger brake van for company. The LMS van was later exchanged for an ex-GWR 'Toad' goods brake van and moved to the East Lancs. Railway for restoration.
Awaiting restoration, with the Engine Shed under construction in the background
The long-term plan for the Coleford Peckett was restoration to working order; in the short term, it was hoped to rebuild the cab to its original, curved profile. As it turned out, the first stage was to repaint it in a more sedate dark green (above), but not before local artist Gerald Thornton had captured it resplendent in yellow livery. He turned up outside the Museum one day, set up his easel and started painting. When he had finished, he presented the picture to the Museum. It now hangs proudly on the wall of the Stationmaster?s Office (the former Goods Office) in the Goods Shed, which forms the main part of the Museum.
Restoration would involve a substantial amount of work. For this to be done on site, a shed would have to be built to house the engine. Work started in 1990 and took 18 months. To give the new building a suitably aged look, bricks were salvaged from a recently demolished house and donated by Bob Jenkins of Five Acres, near Coleford. As well as housing the Peckett locomotive, the Engine Shed is also home to three of the Museum's 7.25in gauge locomotives: Little John (battery electric) and Victor and Maud, 0-4-0ST and 0-4-0 WT steam locomotives, named after Mike?s parents. There is an engineering workshop and a forge, with many of the tools coming from the former GWR; there are also two ex-GWR 1890s wooden signals, one from Monmouth Troy station and the other from Bath Spa. A small washroom and kitchen area complete the picture. Immediately outside is a wagon turntable, which came from the Whitton GEC works at Birmingham. This connects the track inside with the short length outside the Goods Shed and a short siding. It can take 30 tons, and because no. 1893 has a very short wheelbase similar to a wagon, it can be used to turn the engine (see illustration below).
Restoration of no.1893 started in earnest in 2002. The boiler front tube plate and smokebox were badly corroded and had to be replaced, along with the exhaust manifold, which was so badly rusted it was literally falling to pieces. Besides this there was the projected cab rebuilding and repair or replacement of various fittings. The extent of the work needed was revealed as restoration progressed and confirmed by a boiler inspection carried out on 10/7/04. The saddle tank was removed and placed on the track outside, then later on a flat wagon that was acquired by the Museum. This had originally been an LMS 3-plank open wagon, built around 1940.
1893?s boiler awaiting the hydraulic test
The boiler was lifted from the frames and placed on a separate trolley in front of the frames inside the Engine Shed (above). Work then began on replacing the front tube plate and the 124 fire tubes. The new tube plate, of 1in thick steel, was hot-rivetted into place on site in the traditional manner. Much of the specialist work was done by engineers from the nearby Flour Mills works at Bream, which specialises in restoring steam locomotives. Much valuable help was also given by volunteers. By the autumn of 2004 the boiler was ready for its first hydraulic test. This involved filling with water and pressurising to 50% above working pressure. Working pressure in 1893?s case being 160 pounds per square inch (p.s.i.), the test pressure must therefore be 240 p.s.i. The boiler must contain this for 30 minutes without showing any distortion or leaks.
The rebuilt smokebox, showing the front tube plate and (top) the seating for the regulator valve
Boiler and frames reunited
This successfully completed, the boiler was replaced onto the frames (above) and rebuilding of the smokebox could begin. The rebuilt cab was also taking shape. One of the tasks was to refit the characteristic circular windows, which had long since been removed. A local appeal resulted in donations of brass, which was melted down and cast to form the frames. These were then machined on site, fitted and glazed. Another job was to install an Automatic Train Control (ATC) box, made in 1930 and originally fitted to a GWR locomotive. The GWR invented this safety device in 1906. A 45-foot long electromechanical ramp is placed between the rails at the approach to a distant signal. If the signal is at ?clear?, a bell sounds in the cab; if it is at ?caution?, a siren sounds and the driver must acknowledge the signal by pressing a lever and applying the brakes within seconds. If the driver fails to do this, the brakes come on automatically. An example of an ATC ramp can be found in the Museum. A more advanced version known as Automatic Warning System (AWS) is still used on British trains today.
Gently does it...
Another milestone came early in 2005 when the partially-restored saddle tank was placed back onto the boiler (above). By this time the smokebox had also been rebuilt, the lagging and outer sheets had been added to the boiler, and the cab nearly completed. As with the replacement of the boiler, the engine was inched out of the Engine Shed and onto the turntable with a manual levering device known as a ram, and using a hired crane, the tank was carefully lowered into place.
With the Peckett now looking more like its original self, work continued with the aim of getting it to steam later in the same year. Another successful hydraulic test was carried out in April with the boiler fittings in place and by the end of May, with the ashpan repaired and firegrate installed, the boiler was ready for a steam test. In anticipation of this, a consignment of Forest of Dean coal arrived, from Cannop Drift Mine, Yorkley Seam.
The Steam Test
In steam for the first time in 30 years on 31/5/2005
Tuesday 31st May
1.30pm Fire lit, engine standing on turntable in front of itd
3.50pm Needles move off stops on test gauge
4.28pm Pressure at 40psi, blower on
4.55pm Pressure, 120psi, injectors on, worked intermittently
5.15pm At 150psi, r/h safety valve starting to ?feather?
5.50pm160psi, both safety valves lifting
6.05pm150psi, both safety valves still ?feathering?
6.20pm120psi, r/h safety valve still ?feathering?
6.30pm Fire dropped & engine returned to itd
Estimated coal consumption: 3 cwt.
This was the first time the Peckett had been in steam for c.30 years and the first time a full-sized steam locomotive had been seen at work in Coleford for c.40 years.
1936: 0-4-0ST Locomotive Class W6, Works No. 1893, built at the Atlas Works of Peckett & Sons, Engineers, Fishponds, Bristol
29/4/1936: Locomotive delivered new to West Joint Electricity Authority named, ?Ironbridge No.2?.
Original livery: dark green, lined in black and orange, similar to GWR passenger locos
1937: Inspected by the Locomotive Department of the GWR, cleared for main line running, allocated the number 182 and fitted with ATC and GWR style lamp irons
1/4/1948: Ownership passed to BEA
7/1951: Transferred to Birch Hills Generating Station, Walsall
1/4/1955: Transferred to CEGB Stourport-on-Severn Power Station
1973: Cab roof angled both sides
Whilst at Stourport only used during the winter months when demand for coal was greater
3/1977: Repainted plain green
8/1977: Sold to Mark Bamford of JCB Co. and moved to Titanic Steamship Co., Crabkey, Alastone, Nr Ashbourne, Staffs. Whilst in JCB ownership, painted yellow
1/1980: Sold to Jeremy M. Walker, and moved to Lindsey Farm, High Cogges, Witney, Oxon.
1981:Sold to A.L. Peters & Sons and moved to Buntstall, Hatfield, Herts.
Sold by auction to Les Searle, Horsham, Sussex
1987: Sold to Coleford GWR Museum
2002: Restoration work started
10/04:Boiler passes hydraulic test
31/5/05: Restoration work nearing completion. Boiler steam test carried out
21/9/05: Official boiler examination passed and Test Certificate issued
17/4/06: (Easter Monday)
With restoration completed, no. 1893 steams for the first time in public, during the Coleford Festival of Transport (see illustration on front cover)
Type: 0-4-0STCylinders (2):? 14? x 22?Boiler Pressure: 160 p.s.i.
Tractive Effort (approx.): 14,000 lbs. Gauge: 4? 8 ??
During the spring of 2006, work on the engine was completed. This included painting in Brunswick green livery, decorating the saddle tank with the GWR ?shirtbutton? roundel each side, and fitting a GWR style rectangular brass plate bearing the number, 182 to the cabside. This is intended to recall the Peckett 0-4-0 ST locomotives which were once owned by the GWR, including those at Swansea Docks, Alexandra Docks, and the Cornwall Mineral Railway.
Despite spending much of its time at rest in the Engine Shed, no. 1893 is no lifeless museum piece. It is a working engine, and the Museum intends to bring it into steam whenever possible.
Now fully restored, no. 1893 will go on to join the ranks of around 1,000 steam locomotives in the UK which have been restored to working order, part of the Heritage which began in 1804 with Richard Trevithick?s ?Pen-Y-Darren? and, thanks to the tireless efforts of many enthusiasts, continues today.
On a historical note, the Severn & Wye line which once ran from Coleford Junction to Coleford had a short branch which left the line at Milkwall, about 1 mile south of Coleford, to serve the engineering firm of Watkins & Co at nearby Sling. For many years this was worked by a Peckett W6 locomotive similar to no. 1893. Watkins are still trading but the branch and its engine have long since gone. No. 1893 therefore serves as a reminder that a Peckett locomotive could once be seen at work in the Coleford area.
The future looks good for the Coleford Peckett. It has a permanent home, and will also hold the distinction of belonging to the shortest Heritage Railway in the UK?
Finally, we are pleased to report that no. 1893's stablemate at Stourport, 'Sir Thomas Royden', has also escaped the cutter's torch and been preserved.
With thanks to Mike Rees, Curator of Coleford GWR Museum and his staff, Andrew Smith of Malvern Industrial Archaeology Circle, and Ian D. Young of Liverpool University, author of 'The Locomotives of Peckett & Sons', pub. September, 1969
Published & printed? by Coleford GWR Museum,
1st Edition, July 2005
2nd Edition, June 2006
Coleford GWR Museum
The Old Railway Station, Coleford, Glos.
Tel. 01594? 833569 / 832032