BR ‘Potting Shed’ set to steam again
Enthusiasts will once again be able to ride behind preservation’s smallest ex-BR standard gauge steam locomotive this year. Weighing in at just 19 tons 16cwt, LNER ‘Y1’ Sentinel 0-4-0VBT No. 68153 is entering the final stages of overhaul at the Middleton Railway in Leeds. Jokingly known as the ‘Potting Shed’, the 1933-built machine is the only survivor of 58 Sentinel locomotives bought by the LNER between 1925 and 1933. During February, the boiler passed an hydraulic test after major surgery at Israel Newton’s boiler works in Derbyshire, including an entirely new boiler ‘shell’ - the equivalent of both the boiler barrel and outer firebox in a conventional locomotive boiler. A new superheater coil is also being made for the 275lb/sq in boiler. The boiler was expected to return to Leeds in March, where it will be reunited with the chain-driven chassis. Already, mechanical work has been completed, leaving mainly pipework to be finished off before No. 68153 returns to action after more than a decade. The aim is to make it ready for a debut at the ‘Mainline to Industry’ gala, on September 16/17. The event will allow visitors to compare No. 68153 to another diminutive ex-main line locomotive, North Eastern Railway ‘H’ class (later LNER ‘Y7’) 0-4-0T No. 1310. The ‘Y7’, however, is a comparative heavyweight, tipping the scales at 22 tons 14cwt - for the sake of comparison, a Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Class 21 0-4-0ST (better known as a ‘Pug’) weighs around 21.5 tons. Rated at 100hp and with a theoretical top speed of 21mph, No. 68153 later became Departmental No. 54 and was withdrawn from Geneva permanent way yard in Darlington, from where it was purchased by the Middleton Railway in 1961. With two 6¾in diameter cylinders and 2ft 6in diameter driving wheels, the locomotives were economical shunters on docksides and in yards when diesel technology was in its infancy. The LNER was the biggest main line customer of Sentinel in Britain, also purchasing 80 Sentinel-powered steam railcars.
LNER ‘Y1’ Sentinel No. 68153 (Departmental No. 54) stops for a ‘blow up’ with the last train of the day on the Middleton Railway on May 30 1988.