EM­PRESS OF THE VAL­LEYS: BLAE­NAVON BUYS BAG­NALL

Sad­dle tank moves from Laven­der Line just in time for Welsh gala de­but.

Steam Railway (UK) - - INDUSTRIAL -

The Pon­ty­pool & Blae­navon Rail­way has ac­quired Bag­nall 0-6-0ST Em­press as a per­ma­nent ad­di­tion to its fleet.

The en­gine ar­rived at the Welsh line on Thurs­day Septem­ber 13, just in time to take part in its Septem­ber 14-16 steam gala, star­ring Taff Vale Rail­way 0-6-2T No. 85 – for­merly Lambton, Het­ton & Joicey Col­lieries No. 52 (see News).

Em­press found fame in the dy­ing days of steam at Cadley Hill Col­liery, near Bur­ton-on-Trent, where it per­formed well into the 1980s. Or­dered for the Na­tional Coal Board’s Le­ices­ter­shire area as No. 6, the 16in-cylin­dered ma­chine was dis­patched from the Cas­tle En­gine Works in Stafford dur­ing Oc­to­ber 1954 as Works No. 3061, one of the last stan­dard gauge steam lo­co­mo­tives built by Bag­nall.

Pre­served in 1987, Em­press has since spent most of its ca­reer at Man­gapps Farm in Es­sex. After its most re­cent over­haul, it went on hire in 2015 to the Laven­der Line, where it was the main­stay of steam-hauled trains un­til de­part­ing for Pon­ty­pool.

It is the sec­ond in­dus­trial steam lo­co­mo­tive to leave Is­field in 2018; un­re­stored Hawthorn Les­lie 0-6-0ST Ste­warts & Lloyds No. 11 (Works No. 3837) moved to the Ep­ping On­gar Rail­way in April.

The Laven­der Line will now rely on Cock­er­ill 0-4-0VBT tram en­gine ‘Lady Lisa’ (for­merly ‘Yvonne’) which passed its steam test on Septem­ber 30 fol­low­ing over­haul and was due to run at the Minia­ture Steam Trac­tion En­gine & Clas­sic Car Rally on Oc­to­ber 6/7.

At Blae­navon, Em­press will take over from RSH ‘Aus­ter­ity’ 0-6-0ST No. 71515 ‘Mech Navvies’, which has been with­drawn for over­haul after suf­fer­ing tube fail­ures.

DAVID ALLINSON

Em­press pre­pares to tackle the gra­di­ents of the Pon­ty­pool & Blae­navon Rail­way dur­ing the Septem­ber gala event.

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