150 NOT OUT…

The road to the 150th Barry restora­tion

Steam Railway (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Tak­ing stock of the ‘Barry Mir­a­cle’ so far Of the 213 lo­co­mo­tives to leave Barry scrap­yard, 149 have re­turned to steam and the 150th restora­tion is on the hori­zon. How has this mile­stone been achieved?

It has been de­scribed as ‘The Preser­va­tion Mir­a­cle’… and to res­cue 213 steam lo­co­mo­tives from a scrap­yard is in­deed a huge achieve­ment in it­self.

To re­turn 50 of them to steam is an even big­ger feat, and to re­store 100 is a greater tri­umph still.

But now, the Barry scrap­yard story is ap­proach­ing its great­est land­mark yet, with 150 engines re­stored.

As ‘Mod­i­fied Hall’ No. 6989 Wightwick Hall looks al­most cer­tain to set that his­toric score, it’s an ap­pro­pri­ate time to take stock and look back at just how the col­lec­tive skill and de­ter­mi­na­tion of the preser­va­tion move­ment has ac­com­plished this mon­u­men­tal task.


It is par­tic­u­larly fit­ting that the land­mark should also take place in a sig­nif­i­cant an­niver­sary year – for it was 50 years ago that the ex­o­dus from Barry be­gan.

Mid­land Rail­way ‘4F’ 0‑6‑0 No. 43924 was the first en­gine to es­cape from the yard, in Septem­ber 1968 (for more, see pages 62‑64) and went on to be­come an­other Barry pi­o­neer – the first to re­turn to ser­vice – when it steamed on the Keigh­ley & Worth Val­ley Rail­way in the sum­mer of 1970.

To re­store it in just two years makes for a re­mark­able con­trast to the 30 or 40 years it has taken some of the later restora­tions – prov­ing how the engines that came out of the yard early were still in rea­son­ably good con­di­tion, hav­ing been rust­ing in the salty air by the Bris­tol Chan­nel for only a few years rather than decades.

Sim­i­larly, 1968 also brought the first moves to save ‘Small Prairie’ No. 4566 for the Sev­ern Val­ley Rail­way, when Bob Sim and the late David Rouse spot­ted the en­gine at Barry and started an ap­peal fund to save it. The 4566 Group duly com­pleted the pur­chase in 1970 and it ar­rived at Bewd­ley by rail that Au­gust – steam­ing again within five years, on June 29 1975.

The lo­co­mo­tive was an at­trac­tive buy be­cause of its rel­a­tively good con­di­tion, hav­ing been the last en­gine to be over­hauled at New­ton Ab­bot Works in 1960. As a re­sult, although its restora­tion – like so many other Barry engines since – took place in the open air and in all weath­ers, it was rel­a­tively straight­for­ward, in­volv­ing 91 re­place­ment boiler tubes, some re­place­ment steel on the bunker and a new ash­pan. Iron­i­cally, when the lo­co­mo­tive was with­drawn from ser­vice again five years later, it was owing to the fail­ure of one of the new tubes, while the orig­i­nals fit­ted at New­ton Ab­bot had held firm.


Even in these early days, there were those who doubted the fea­si­bil­ity of am­a­teur en­thu­si­asts restor­ing engines from scrap­yard con­di­tion – and in­deed, it is no­table that a num­ber of the ear­lier Barry restora­tions were car­ried out at BR work­shops, mak­ing use of the steam‑era ex­per­tise that was still read­ily avail­able.

The third ex‑Barry en­gine to be re­stored – the Dart Val­ley Rail­way’s ‘4575’ 2‑6‑2T No. 4588 – was over­hauled by BR En­gi­neer­ing Ltd at none other than Swin­don Works be­tween May and Au­gust 1971; ‘Ju­bilee’ No. 5690 Le­an­der and ‘Jinty’ No. 47357 both steamed in 1973 af­ter equally ap­pro­pri­ate ‘heavy gen­er­als’ at BREL’s Derby Works; and two restora­tions for the Dart Val­ley

Rail­way, No. 7827 Ly­d­ham Manor and ‘5205’ 2-8-0T No. 5239, were car­ried out at New­ton Ab­bot.

The restora­tion process gath­ered pace dur­ing the 1970s, cul­mi­nat­ing in a record year (up to that point) in 1979, when seven engines re­turned to steam – four of them, re­mark­ably, on the Sev­ern Val­ley Rail­way.

The graph on the next page shows a num­ber of such ‘peaks and troughs’, with bursts of ac­tiv­ity as sev­eral restora­tions were com­pleted, in­ter­spersed with qui­eter years when only one or two engines crossed the fin­ish line.

Closer study re­veals some odd par­al­lels of his­tory too: for in­stance, the only en­gine to steam in 1991 was ‘4F’ 0-6-0

No. 44422 at Ched­dle­ton, which was also the sole en­gine to leave the yard dur­ing 1977 – the first year since the de­par­ture of class­mate No. 43924 in 1968 that only one lo­co­mo­tive was res­cued for preser­va­tion.



Fifty years to the month af­ter it be­came the first en­gine to leave Barry scrap­yard, Mid­land ‘4F’ 0-6-0 No. 43924 climbs the last few yards of the Keigh­ley & Worth Val­ley Rail­way into Ox­en­hope sta­tion on Septem­ber 23 2018.


As far as Steam Rail­way can as­cer­tain, the 50th Barry en­gine to steam was ‘West Coun­try’ No. 34105 Swan­age, pic­tured leav­ing Al­res­ford with its first pas­sen­ger train, the 11.30am to Al­ton on Au­gust 23 1987.

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