THREE WIGHT MICE

Bring­ing to­gether three Ivatt ‘2MTs’ for a spe­cial event on the Isle of Wight

Steam Railway (UK) - - Contents -

Never in the field of rail­way preser­va­tion has so much been or­gan­ised for so few… The Isle of Wight Steam Rail­way brought all three of its Ivatt ‘2MTs’ to­gether in a heart­felt thank you to just two preser­va­tion­ists and a rel­a­tive hand­ful of vol­un­teers. TOBY JEN­NINGS re­ports from Haven­street.

Usu­ally, when a rail­way re­unites lo­co­mo­tives for a gala, it’s done to recre­ate a piece of his­tory, bring en­thu­si­asts through the gate and, hope­fully, make a few bob in the process. But while it cer­tainly made his­tory – not least by run­ning a ten­der lo­co­mo­tive on Vec­tis for the first time in its 154-year rail­way his­tory – the Isle of Wight Steam Rail­way’s ‘Three Is­land Ivatts’ gala on May 26-28 was or­gan­ised for none of those rea­sons. It was in­tended sim­ply to do the most im­por­tant thing of all: say thank you. ‘Thank you’ to the two long-serv­ing rail­way preser­va­tion­ists who saved th­ese ‘2MTs’ from scrap in the first place. ‘Thank you’ for their gen­eros­ity in do­nat­ing them to the IoWSR; ‘thank you’ to the vol­un­teers of the East Som­er­set Rail­way who re­stored two of them from Barry con­di­tion; and, of course, ‘thank you’ to the engi­neer­ing staff of the IoWSR it­self, who com­pleted the restora­tion of the other one. It is the cul­mi­na­tion of a 40-year dream for Roy Miller and Peter Clarke, who pur­chased 2-6-2T No. 41298 at scrap value from Nine Elms shed at the end of South­ern Re­gion steam in 1967, and went on to res­cue fel­low ‘Mickey Mouse’ tank No. 41313 and 2-6-0 No. 46447 from Dai Wood­ham’s scrap­yard.

GALA FOR TWO

“We didn’t con­ceive this as a gala,” said IoWSR di­rec­tor Steve Oates. “We wanted to get the three to­gether as a thank you to Roy and Peter – as well as the ESR, and to our staff.” But for­tu­nately, many oth­ers were able to en­joy the Bank Hol­i­day event too. Gen­eral Man­ager Peter Vail com­mented: “Ac­tual in­come gen­er­ated was sim­i­lar to our ‘Is­land Lo­co­mo­tive Gala’ the same time last year, when we ran ‘O2’ Calbourne and ‘Ter­ri­ers’ Freshwater and New­port, with no guest lo­co­mo­tive brought in. “How­ever, this was the one oc­ca­sion when our com­mer­cial de­mands were sec­ond to the cel­e­bra­tions.” Steve also points out: “We didn’t think we’d see all three Ivatts in steam to­gether,” re­fer­ring to the fact that, when they were orig­i­nally do­nated, the plan was only to over­haul the two tank en­gines – which have some his­tor­i­cal prece­dent here, be­ing al­most iden­ti­cal to the Rid­dles ‘84XXX’ class pro­posed as re­place­ments for the ‘O2’ 0-4-4Ts in the 1960s – and for No. 46447 to be cos­met­i­cally re­stored as a static ex­hibit. Thanks were there­fore due to the ESR, which re­stored the ten­der en­gine in a swap deal for ‘E1’ 0-6-0T No. B110 Bur­gundy, and went on to do the same with No. 41313. The trio steamed to­gether for the first time at a pri­vate event on May 25, ar­ranged for Roy, Peter and 33 ESR mem­bers who trav­elled to the is­land by coach. Sadly, Peter was un­able to make the cross-So­lent jour­ney ow­ing to ill health – al­though the rail­way had been pre­pared to char­ter a he­li­copter to fly him there. Watch­ing No. 41298 coast­ing down the gra­di­ent into a sun-drenched Haven­street, Roy de­clared it “a joy to be­hold.” “We’re re­ally pleased that they’ve come here – it’s a good re­tire­ment home, the rail­way is an ideal length and they’re well looked af­ter,” he said. “It’s the ic­ing on the cake.” “I’m only sorry that Peter couldn’t be here to share it – we al­ways did ev­ery­thing to­gether as part­ners. “We al­ways said that when we re­stored No. 41298, Peter would

drive it and I’d fire – which we even­tu­ally did on the IoWSR un­der su­per­vi­sion – and on No. 41313 I’d drive and Peter would fire.” This ex­plains a fur­ther small ges­ture of thanks, and one that en­sures the IoWSR’s foot­plate crews, at least, will never for­get the Ivatt Trust’s con­tri­bu­tion. On the in­side of the cab roof, above the driver’s seat, No. 41298 bears a plate read­ing ‘Driver Peter Clarke’ while No. 41313 has one stat­ing ‘Driver Roy Miller’. Len Pullinger, the rail­way’s former chief me­chan­i­cal engi­neer, made th­ese – which are copies of those fit­ted to the ‘O2s’ in steam days to record the names of their reg­u­lar driv­ers.

CHANGE OF CHIMNEY

The gala should also be con­sid­ered a thank you to many oth­ers who helped them in their quest to save an Ivatt from the cut­ter’s torch – right from the start, when their cho­sen en­gine was ac­tu­ally former Che­sham branch stal­wart No. 41284, which had pre­vi­ously hauled them both to school. “We were con­cerned that no­body was pre­serv­ing a mod­ern branch line en­gine,” Roy re­mem­bers – but the shed­mas­ter at Nine Elms, where No. 41284 ended its ca­reer, was ex­tremely help­ful. “Peter and I ob­tained a day’s shed per­mit which we stretched a lit­tle and vis­ited often. Then one day the shed­mas­ter said: ‘Sorry, I have some bad news for you both. Our boiler in­spec­tor has con­demned No. 41284 with a faulty foun­da­tion ring that is not worth re­pair­ing. No rea­son why you should not still have this lo­co­mo­tive, but why don’t you have No. 41298? It’s in far bet­ter con­di­tion, hav­ing been the last to have a gen­eral over­haul. The boiler has al­ways re­ceived the South­ern wa­ter treat­ment and it is fit­ted with BR AWS equip­ment.’ “We replied: ‘Yes, but it’s fit­ted with that ter­ri­ble thin West­ern chimney’. ‘Don’t worry about that,’ came the re­ply, ‘they made no dif­fer­ence any­way.’ The next thing we knew, the Nine Elms steam crane had re­moved the chimney from No. 41284 and placed it into

the bunker of No. 41298. It is said that the lo­co­mo­tive did a cou­ple of turns with the chimney buried be­neath the coal, but we have no means of prov­ing this.” That BR-de­sign chimney is now on No. 46447, the tank en­gines hav­ing re­ceived new Ivatt-pat­tern chim­neys in a joint or­der with the Keigh­ley & Worth Val­ley Rail­way – so this gala also ‘re­united’ No. 41284’s chimney with the en­gine it was in­tended for! Af­ter the cur­tain came down on SR steam on July 9 1967, BR man­age­ment, who wanted no pri­vately owned steam lo­co­mo­tives on their prop­erty, was threat­en­ing High Court or­ders to move No. 41298 on – but the 70A ‘gaffer’ ar­ranged for it to be towed to the nascent preser­va­tion cen­tre at the Long­moor Mil­i­tary Rail­way, along with ‘West Coun­try’ No. 34023 Black­more Vale and ‘Mer­chant Navy’ No. 35028 Clan Line, while the main line was closed for an engi­neer­ing pos­ses­sion. “By the time we got to Liss, the pos­ses­sion had run out, and time was get­ting tight be­fore the first train,” re­calls Roy, “but the Army was wait­ing and pulled us in with its diesel.” When the Long­moor scheme folded three years later, No. 41298 had to be moved to its new home of Quain­ton us­ing road trans­port – some­thing that, as Roy re­minds us, “was al­most un­heard of at the time.” But a haulage contractor in Not­ting­ham was happy to do the job “at a very cheap rate - be­cause they were sell­ing their trailer to a firm in Aus­tralia, and wanted some pho­tos of it with the lo­co­mo­tive on!”

HAVE IVATTS, WILL SAIL

To­day, of course, shift­ing lo­co­mo­tives by road is no prob­lem – though it is a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult for the IoWSR, which has to take ferry sail­ings and tide times into con­sid­er­a­tion. In the case of No. 46447, it in­volved two sep­a­rate sail­ings for the en­gine and ten­der, and the trans­port costs and ferry fees came to £14,987 – the gala cost­ing £20,000 in to­tal. How­ever, even that wasn’t the only lo­gis­ti­cal hur­dle. Un­like Nos. 41298 and 41313, which have re­ceived former ‘O2’ air pumps (more of which later), the ‘Mogul’ is only vac­uum-braked, and there­fore in­com­pat­i­ble with the is­land’s air-braked stock. This was solved by fit­ting a through air pipe, al­low­ing it to dou­ble-head with the tanks for two pas­sen­ger trains each day – pro­vided it was mar­shalled be­tween 2-6-2T and stock as the train en­gine. There were other lim­i­ta­tions to what it could do: af­ter ar­rival at the Woot­ton ter­mi­nus, it was un­able to run round the train be­cause it is too long for the head­shunt. The tank en­gine there­fore had to re­turn to Haven­street with the train, af­ter which No. 46447 fol­lowed light en­gine un­der ‘staff and ticket’ work­ing – as it was not per­mis­si­ble to have the ten­der en­gine on the rear of the train as a ‘swinger’. A heart­warm­ing con­clu­sion to the event came at Mon­day’s lineup; with ‘O2’ No. W24 Calbourne lit up for use dur­ing the fol­low­ing week, the op­por­tu­nity was taken to pose all four BR lined black en­gines to­gether. Then the driver of No. 46447 blew his whis­tle, and for a few se­conds it sounded a lit­tle like the end­ing to The Tit­field Thun­der­bolt, the air rent with the com­bined sound of four Cale­do­nian-style hoot­ers as the other Ivatts and Calbourne an­swered in uni­son.

FISH­ING FOR PARTS

On the sub­ject of ‘O2s’ and air brak­ing, Roy re­vealed that he and Peter – both of whom were early mem­bers of the Wight Lo­co­mo­tive So­ci­ety – briefly con­sid­ered try­ing to buy one of the last 0-4-4Ts at the end of is­land steam in De­cem­ber 1966. He did man­age to sal­vage one frag­ment of a par­tic­u­larly his­toric ex­am­ple: the air pump now fit­ted to No. 41298 orig­i­nally came from the old­est sur­vivor, No. W14 Fish­bourne, which was bro­ken up at New­port by scrap mer­chant Jol­liffe’s. “When the ‘O2s’ were be­ing scrapped here I thought I’d never hear the sound of a West­ing­house pump again – so I paid Jol­liffe’s for one and took it home in my Bed­ford Dor­mo­bile. “So the Ivatts were doomed to come here even at that stage!” he joked. The word ‘doomed’ prompted a tongue-in-cheek ‘Oh, thanks Roy’ from Len and the other IoWSR staff present. But you knew it was all harm­less ban­ter, and they re­ally meant a very sin­cere thank you.

JOHN FAULKNER

A sight that is owed to the two men who saved Ivatts Nos. 46447, 41298 and 41313: Roy Miller and Peter Clarke.

JOHN FAULKNER

The most un-Isle of Wight train you’re ever likely to see! ‘Repa­tri­ated’ No. 46447 be­comes the first ten­der en­gine to ever run on Vec­tis as it shuf­fles a train of ex-Bri­tish Rail­ways bal­last wag­ons be­tween Grif­fin’s Field and Haven­street sta­tion.

JOHN FAULKNER

Roy Miller and former Haven­street CME Len Pullinger share the cab on May 25.

TOBY JEN­NINGS/SR

IN­SET: The name­plate for Peter Clarke in No. 41298’s cab.

JOHN FAULKNER

Whis­tle while you work: Four lined BR black lo­co­mo­tives (all with the late crest) gather at Haven­street as the Ivatt trio are joined by clas­sic is­land ‘O2’ No. W24 Calbourne.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.