Plans to ex­pand DsR’s lo­co­mo­tive fleet mean ‘small Prairie’ will have time to spare.

Steam Railway (UK) - - News -

GWR ‘Small Prairie’ No. 4555 could make its first vis­its to other pre­served lines once its over­haul at the Dart­mouth Steam Rail­way is com­plete. Since en­ter­ing preser­va­tion at the Dart Val­ley Rail­way in 1965, the Church­ward 2‑6‑2T has only ever op­er­ated on the Buck­fastleigh‑ Totnes and Paign­ton‑Kingswear lines ‑ its sole for­ays else­where be­ing for open days at BR de­pots, such as Laira in Ply­mouth. But with busi­ness in­creas­ing, the DSR is now look­ing to ex­pand its lo­co­mo­tive fleet ‑ mean­ing that No. 4555, which is ex­pected to re­turn to steam by the end of this year, could be re­leased for hire. It would be­come avail­able af­ter one of the rail­way’s GWR 2‑8‑0Ts, ‘42XX’ No. 4277 ‘Hercules’ (now in its last sea­son be­fore over­haul) and ‘5205’ No. 5239 ‘Go­liath’ (await­ing over­haul at Churston) has been re­turned to steam. In a re­ver­sal of the nor­mal sit­u­a­tion for such small lo­co­mo­tives, No. 4555 is needed for the DSR’s peak sum­mer timetable, when two seven‑coach trains are in op­er­a­tion ‑ but will be of less use dur­ing the off‑peak period, when only one train is run­ning, but can be strength­ened to ten or 11 ve­hi­cles to cater for party book­ings. Says DSR boil­er­smith Rory Ed­wards: “Traf­fic has grown in the last few years, and the in­creased length of our sum­mer two‑train ser­vice means we need four op­er­a­tional en­gines.” With plans to ex­pand the rail­way’s engi­neer­ing de­part­ment (see story be­low) he adds: “Our aim in a few years is to have a much larger pool of en­gines that we can ro­tate on hire to other rail­ways. The num­ber of more high‑pro­file lo­co­mo­tives that are out of ticket, or have al­most cer­tain fu­tures in mu­se­ums, is of great in­ter­est to us, and ei­ther to buy out­right, or make agree­ments to fund their over­hauls, are the lines we want to head down.” To sup­ple­ment the cur­rent op­er­a­tional stud of No. 4277 and ‘Manor’ No. 7827 Ly­d­ham Manor ‑ plus newly over­hauled BR ‘4MT’ 4‑6‑0 No. 75014 ‘Brave­heart’ ‑ a se­ries of guest lo­co­mo­tives have been hired in re­cent years,

in­clud­ing No. 7820 Din­more Manor and ‘4575’ 2-6-2T No. 5542. Lined up for a ten-year stint on the DSR is Peter Best’s USA Trans­porta­tion Corps ‘S160’ 2-8-0 No. 2253 (SR447), which will now take up its du­ties for the 2018 sea­son, be­cause its over­haul will not be com­pleted this year as was orig­i­nally hoped. ●● For the lat­est progress on No. 4555, see ‘The Ros­ter’, pages 32-35.

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