Last Friday we loaded “Woolmer” on to a low-loader for her return to Hampshire and display in the railway goods yard at Milestones Museum in Basingstoke. After an overnight stay in the Midlands, the engine arrived at the museum on Sunday afternoon and once there had been a quick press call, Andrew Goodman and his team from Moveright International set to work unloading the engine in the 1930s street. It was lowered on to a skate upon which it would be rolled on steel plates across the tarmac and cobbles, fortunately Senior Curator Gary Wragg and his staff had worked hard to prepare the environment, removing road vehicles and fences so that the loco had an unimpeded route across to the goods yard.
Having got the engine on to the skate, here it is being skidded sideways on the steel plate so that it can be squeezed through the Council Yard from the 1930s to the 1910s. The whole operation was being filmed so that a DVD can be made documenting the engine’s return to Hampshire.
About 9pm on the Sunday night, “Woolmer” is moved through the Council yard, evoking a few memories of lines such as the Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Light Railway which ran through street sections!
I had to leave to return North at lunchtime on the Monday, by which time the loco was moving round the corner past the tram which had been removed from the rails to allow “Woolmer” to pass. Elected members from Hampshire Council which runs the museum were viewing the loco at this time so for safety, work stopped for an hour to allow the Moveright team a much needed break.
And finally at around 9pm on Monday night, “Woolmer” was finally lowered off its carrying skate on to the rails in the goods yard at Milestones. After a clean and replacing of fences and all other exhibits displaced to make way, the museum re-opened on Tuesday morning for the public to see “Woolmer” back in Hampshire for the first time in four decades, and I am indebted to Curator Stephen Hoadley for kindly sending me this picture of “Woolmer” on display today for use in this blog. Stephen has worked long and hard organising this move and his effort has paid off. Without him, Gary Wragg and Andrew Goodman, the move would not have happened, and we are delighted that there is a new loan venue for a National Collection locomotive. Do please go and see it – it looks very much at home there!