Spa Valley Railway’s ‘Jinty’ sees daylight for first time in seven years
LMS ‘Jinty’ No. 47493 has emerged into the daylight for the first time in seven years following its rewheeling in the Spa Valley Railway’s Tunbridge Wells West workshop, where it is undergoing a painstaking 10-year overhaul.
The 0-6-0T was withdrawn for the work in 2014 after a decade of service, during which time it had become popular with visitors and footplate crews alike. The boiler is currently being overhauled at the North Norfolk Railway, but it was the rewheeling that delighted Matt Dives, the Spa Valley’s steam engineering manager.
“It was the first time No. 47493 had been outside since March 2015, when it was lifted off its wheels,” he said. “We will now be able to refit its overhauled valve gear, and the next major job will be refurbishing the water tanks.”
He said the boiler overhaul at the NNR is progressing well and it is hoped that testing would be complete by this spring or early summer, enabling its return to Tunbridge Wells to coincide with completion of the work on the locomotive’s chassis.
“A lot of money has been invested in the boiler, which has seen a very extensive overhaul, as well as the associated fittings which have either been overhauled or replaced,” he added.
As for an eagerly-awaited return to traffic, it is being whispered at Tunbridge Wells West that the 0-6-0T may be back late this year, but Matt was understandably non-committal, telling Heritage Railway that no date had been announced. “I will be ready when it’s ready,” he said.
Jonnie Pay, the railway’s commercial manager, said: “It is really pleasing to see such great progress with 47493. It is a favourite with crews and visitors, and we are really looking forward to its return to service. Being a 3F, it is ideal for hauling our trains.”
He said that in its absence, steam operations from next month until October would be handled by Caledonian Railway 0-6-0 No. 828, which is visiting from the Strathspey Railway, and Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0 No. 2890, on loan from the East Lancashire Railway.
No. 47493 was outshopped by Vulcan Foundry in February 1928 and withdrawn from the Liverpool shed of Edge Hill (8A) in December 1966, following which it joined a number of its classmates at Barry scrapyard, from where it was bought by Barry Buckfield in 1972. A restoration at the East Somerset Railway was followed by a return to steam in 1977, and there it remained until 2000, when it was moved to the Spa Valley Railway for overhaul and subsequent 10 years in service.
The locomotive is the subject of an appeal to raise funds for its outright purchase from the family of Barry Buckfield, who died in 2020 at the age of 72. To date £100,000 has been raised, and the appeal continues via firstname.lastname@example.org
Second Scottish visitor
As Matt and his team were enjoying the landmark rewheeling of the‘Jinty,’ Jonnie added late breaking news by announcing that another Caledonian Railway locomotive would join No. 828 at two steam galas in April.
It is No. 419, a 439 class 0-4-4T, built at the CR’s St Rollox Works in Glasgow in November 1907, withdrawn from Carstairs (66E) by BR as No. 55189 in December 1962, and saved from the cutter’s torch by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society.
A delighted Jonnie said: “I believe it will be the first time these two Caledonian Railway locomotives will be seen together outside Scotland, and most definitely the first time they will have operated together this far south.” He said No. 419 would appear at the Spa Valley’s two Scottish steam events on April 2/3 and April 9/10.