Sans Pareil pair­ing is down to Shildon suc­cess

Steam Railway (UK) - - Steam News -

The first-ever meet­ing of the orig­i­nal and replica Sans Pareil 0-4-0s is the re­sult of Lo­co­mo­tion mu­seum be­ing “a vic­tim of its own suc­cess.” The 1829-built en­gine was pre­vi­ously dis­played in the ‘wel­come’ build­ing at the western end of the Na­tional Rail­way Mu­seum’s Shildon site, where it was in­tended to be the first lo­co­mo­tive seen by vis­i­tors. But, says Lo­co­mo­tion man­ager Gary Camp­bell, greater than ex­pected foot­fall quickly ren­dered this gem largely out of the public gaze. Mr Camp­bell ex­plains: “The orig­i­nal bid for Her­itage Lot­tery funding was made on the ba­sis of around 30,000-50,000 vis­i­tors a year, and the site was de­signed for that num­ber - but al­most im­me­di­ately we saw more than that, av­er­ag­ing at 175,000 a year.” The vis­i­tor count has ex­ceeded 200,000 in five of the last six years, with a peak of 295,000 in 2013/14 (in­clud­ing the ‘Great Good­bye’ gath­er­ing of the six ‘A4s’ for ‘Mal­lard 75’). Within a year of the mu­seum’s open­ing in 2004, a larger car park was com­mis­sioned next to the main build­ing in or­der to cope - but this means that the half-mile long site is now “work­ing the op­po­site way around from how it was in­tended,” says Mr Camp­bell, who reck­ons that fewer than 10% of vis­i­tors made the trek to the op­po­site end to see Sans Pareil. The de­ci­sion to move the en­gine into the main build­ing last year was there­fore made in or­der to bring it to the largest pos­si­ble au­di­ence - with the bonus of dis­play­ing it along­side its work­ing replica. Both lo­co­mo­tives have Shildon pedi­gree, the orig­i­nal hav­ing been built in the town by Ti­mothy Hack­worth to com­pete against Robert Stephen­son’s Rocket at the Rain­hill Tri­als. The replica was built by ap­pren­tices in Bri­tish Rail’s Shildon work­shops in 1979 to cel­e­brate the 150th an­niver­sary of the tri­als. Mr Camp­bell said that the main build­ing is now ex­pected to be the per­ma­nent home for the orig­i­nal en­gine, but the mu­seum in­tends to draw up a ‘master­plan’ for en­gag­ing vis­i­tors across the whole of the site, and en­cour­ag­ing more to the western end which in­cludes Hack­worth’s cot­tage and Soho en­gine shed, the last sur­viv­ing build­ing from the Stock­ton & Dar­ling­ton Rail­way’s Soho works. Brake van rides from the main mu­seum build­ing - op­er­ated by Fur­ness Rail­way 0-4-0 No. 20 - are cur­rently un­able to ac­cess this end of the run­ning line ow­ing to survey work be­ing un­der­taken on the ad­ja­cent coal drops, in or­der to se­cure their long-term fu­ture.

Sans Pareil. NRM

To­gether at last - stand­ing side by side at Shildon are the replica and orig­i­nal in­car­na­tions of Ti­mothy Hack­worth’s

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