Agecroft No. 3 runs again at Whitwell & Reepham following restoration
ROBERT Stephenson & Hawthorns 0-4-0ST No. 7681 of 1951 Agecroft No. 3 has run for the first time following a lengthy restoration at the Whitwell & Reepham Railway.
It made its debut at the Norfolk venue’s 13th anniversary Missed & Greatly Needed Gala on February 26 after being restored by three Whitwell volunteers – known as the Thursday Gang – in the open air over several years.
It was originally intended to work at Bolton power station, where it was named Bolton No.1. However, after two years on loan to Chadderton power station, it moved to Agecroft power station, near Manchester, in 1954, where it worked until September 12, 1981.
On that last day Agecroft No.3 was coupled to BR brake van No. B955208 to give rides up and down the four long sidings that ran parallel to the Manchester-Bolton line that were in the shadow of the cooling towers of the adjacent power station.
The three locomotives there became redundant when a conveyor belt was constructed to bring in the coal supplies directly from Agecroft colliery. The other two, RSH Nos. 7416 and 7493, have also been preserved. No. 7681 was initially preserved at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester but in 2000 moved to the MOD depot at Long Marston. It later moved to Swindon and spent many years on static display at STEAM – the Museum of the Great Western Railway before being purchased by the Whitwell & Reepham Railway. The boiler was tested at the North Norfolk Railway in 2000.
The gala also saw the last public steaming of Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST No. 2199 of 1945 Victory before overhaul. The locomotive spent all of its working life based at the Royal Navy Dockyard at Chatham before it was withdrawn from service in 1969.