Steam Railway (UK) - - GALLERY -

The Barry story peaked in 1987, with ten engines com­pleted – the only time the to­tal reached dou­ble fig­ures. It is no sur­prise that this mo­men­tous year was also the one in which the 50th en­gine was re­stored.

As far as Steam Rail­way has been able to as­cer­tain, this was ‘West Coun­try’ No. 34105 Swan­age at the Mid-Hants Rail­way – although it was only a mat­ter of days be­tween the Bulleid ‘Pa­cific’ and SDJR ‘7F’ No. 53808 at the West Som­er­set Rail­way.

The Fowler 2-8-0 was pho­tographed mov­ing un­der its own steam for the first time at Mine­head on Au­gust 15, while MHR Oper­a­tions Man­ager Richard Bent­ley says: “Our of­fi­cial records first show No. 34105 run­ning on Au­gust 22, cov­er­ing 24 miles, though it is pos­si­ble it moved prior to that.”

The ‘Spam Can’ hauled its first trains the fol­low­ing day, and was of­fi­cially launched into traf­fic on Au­gust 26 – dou­ble-head­ing with Urie ‘S15’ No. 506, which had it­self only hauled its first train the pre­vi­ous month.

What an ex­cit­ing year it must have been for en­thu­si­asts

– and restora­tion teams for that mat­ter – with new engines re­turn­ing to steam al­most every month, many within days of each other (see panel).

Per­haps the vol­un­teers on those engines had been spurred on by the knowl­edge that one of them would be the 50th restora­tion?

That was cer­tainly the case at the turn of the mil­len­nium. For­mer Steam Rail­way ed­i­tor Tony Streeter re­mem­bers how, with the oc­ca­sion of the 100th restora­tion ap­proach­ing, lo­co­mo­tive own­ers and groups were phoning the Steam Rail­way of­fice ask­ing what they had to do in or­der to at­tain the 100th place!

One of those vy­ing for the cov­eted po­si­tion was BR ‘4MT’ 2-6-4T No. 80105 at the Bo’ness & Kin­neil Rail­way – but in the event, its first steam­ing on De­cem­ber 11 1999 put it in 99th place, and the 100th en­gine was the GWR Preser­va­tion Group’s ‘8750’ 0-6-0PT No. 9682, which moved un­der its own steam for the first time at the Swin­don & Crick­lade Rail­way on Jan­uary 7 2000.

Iron­i­cally, that was not to be the last time an ‘80XXX’ tank nar­rowly missed out on set­ting a his­toric Barry bench­mark – with No. 80097 hav­ing been the 149th to steam, at the East Lan­cashire Rail­way on Oc­to­ber 18.

So if one de­fines a Barry en­gine as hav­ing been com­pleted when it first moves un­der its own steam (see panel) what could hap­pen if, or when, we are clos­ing in on the 200th restora­tion?

Af­ter 198 engines have been com­pleted, might we end up in a stand-off sit­u­a­tion, with two or three lo­co­mo­tives fully re­stored and ready to roll, but with no fires lit and not budg­ing an inch be­cause no­body wants to be num­ber 199?

It would cer­tainly be an in­ter­est­ing con­clu­sion to the story…

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