Monday 12 September 2016

A damp day at Statfold Barn Railway

Ex-Harrogate Gas Works Peckett 'Harrogate'

There's a delightful two-foot gauge private railway near Tamworth, Staffordshire; The Statfold Barn Railway. It's owned by Graham Lee, former chairman of LH Group Services Ltd, who in 2005 bought the remains of the Hunslet Engine Company. The railway is located on a working farm and has a run of about three miles, with a tear-drop loop to return and a separate (but connected) garden railway.

It also has a large roundhouse where locomotives are stored, and extensive workshops which support a locomotive restoration business. It is not usually open to the public, but three times a year open days are held for invited guests.

The railway has always intrigued me and when I read of the open days I decided to apply to attend the 10th September event. I passed the information to Ivan, Malc, and Peter who also applied, and almost by return we received our invitations. So did a couple of thousand other enthusiasts, it seems, from the attendance yesterday.

Peter drove us there, and the further south and east we travelled the worse the weather got. It was raining when we arrived, but the forecast was for the occluded front to move through the area by mid day, after which it would be dry. Well, the front stalled over the Midlands so the rain never really cleared. But it didn't really matter, and the damp atmosphere allowed plenty of visible 'steam' as the sixteen locomotives in steam worked the trains. There were traction engines too, and the 'Goose' railcar, plus the museum.

Please click on any picture for a larger image. As usual, all pictures are my copyright except those annotated otherwise. Please ask me before re-using any.

Damp, drizzly, misty. Quarry Hunslet 'Sybil Mary', retired from Penrhyn Quarry in 1955 and returned to steam in 2013.

Avonside 'Marchlyn'. Originally a Penrhyn Quarry locomotive it was rescued from a Chattanooga amusement park.

'Marchlyn' in the amusement park - 'Chattanooga Choo Choo'?

Last seen by us in Spooner's Bar, Porthmadog, Quarry Hunslet 'King of the Scarlets'. Built in 1889 it is the oldest of eleven identical locomotives and worked in Dinorwic Slate Quarry until 1965 when it was exported to Canada. It was repatriated in 2012 by Statfold Barn Railway.

Originally supplied in 1898, Jack was built by Hunslet to 18" gauge and spent it's entire working life of sixty years at the John Knowles Clay processing works, near Woodville in Leicestershire 

This one needs a bit of work

No.3903 'Statfold' is a new build undergoing a ten year boiler rebuild. It's possible to see how slim the boilers are on Quarry Hunslets when one sees one with the saddle tank removed. 'Statfold' and open-footplate version of this locomotive 'Jack Lane' were both built at Statfold in 2005.

 Orenstein & Koppel 'Pakis Baru No.1', from the Pakis Baru sugar mill in Java

Also from Indonesia (Jatibarang Sugar Mill) is this Mallet, restored to working order in 2011

Another ex-Penrhyn Quarry Avonside, 'Ogwen', exported to Indiana and recently repatriated

Ex-Dinorwic Quarry, Hunslet 'Michael'

General view of the roundhouse

We had three rides on the main railway. Early trains were overcrowded, but later in the day this wasn't the case. But the poor weather did not let up at all, despite being forecast to improve after lunch.

An intensive service was operated on the railway, with trains either double-headed or operated push-pull. Here, a train approaches the loop, photographed from our train which was waiting at the museum halt. 

'Saccharine', a Fowler built in 1914 for a sugar plantation in South Africa

Another ex-Dinorwic Hunslet, 'Cloister', built in 1892

Kerr Stuart 'Wren' class 3128 'Roger', originally from Avonside smelting works, was working on the garden railway

The other locomotive working in the garden was this new build vertical boilered locomotive

Atmospheric shot of 'Saccharine'

The main railway follows the field edge from the farm to the tear-drop loop at the far end

'Trangkil No.4' (on the right) has a special place in the history of the Hunslet Engine Company, having been the last steam locomotive to be built at the Jack Lane Works in Leeds, as works number 3902. 

She was originally built to 750mm gauge and supplied via Robert Hudson for use on the Trangkil sugar mill estate on the island of Java in Indonesia. It worked there for 33 years until made redundant by rationalisation of the estate’s railway system and was returned to the UK in 2004 to become part of the Statfold collection. During a thorough overhaul in the Statfold workshops 'Trangkil' was re-gauged to 2’0”. She now sees regular use at Statfold, including once again being employed on the harvest, although now of oil seed rather than sugar cane.

'Howard', on the left, is Hunslet Locomotive No, 1842 built 1936 as a 3 foot gauge for British Aluminum at Fort William, and later re-gauged to 2 foot for the Dursley Light Railway and converted from saddle tank to side tank. It was acquired by the Statfold Barn Railway in 2012 and ran in the 2013 season. It was given a major overhaul in 2014 at Statfold Barn. When it came to Statfold it was called Josephine but is now Howard and has reverted to a saddle tank. As can be seen it is an 0-4-2 design with inside valve gear and wheels inside the frames as re-gauged.

Sragi No.1 was built in 1899 by Krauss. This 0-4-2T was restored by the Hunslet Engine Company in September 2008, before making its debut public appearance at the Statfold Barn Railway that year.

 Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0WT+T (well tank plus side tanks) 'Alpha' of 1924 was restored to working order in 2016

Further views of the two garden railway locomotives

Several traction engines were also present, including this one operating a circular saw

'Marchlyn' and 'Sybil Mary' rest between turns

Most of the locomotives were working as coupled pairs for the event

It wasn't quite all steam. The ‘Goose’railcar, based on a Morris commercial chassis was also running. Construction was inspired by the famed Galloping Goose railcars operated by the Rio Grande Southern Railroad between the 1930s and 1950s. The machine, can carry 18 seated passengers.

It was good to get a chance to see this lovely if somewhat secretive little railway and its fascinating collection of narrow gauge steam locomotives. The rain was with us all day but didn't really spoil things as it wasn't heavy - just damp drizzle most of the time. And the damp air showed off the smoke and steam to great effect.

We had a great day out. I can thoroughly recommend a visit to Statfold Barn if you have any interest at all in narrow gauge steam railways.


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