For a good many years, I have known railway bookseller Andrew Neale of Leeds, as he caters for my esoteric reading requirements! In 2006, Andrew repatriated the narrow gauge former Penrhyn Quarry Hunslet saddle tank loco “Edward Sholto” from the USA, where it had been sold to in the 1960s and with a dedicated team carried out a fabulous restoration, the engine steaming late last year. Today was the day of “Sholto”‘s launch, at the amazing Statfold Barn Railway in Staffordshire, the creation of Graham Lee and the modern day Hunslet Engine Company. I was fortunate to be invited to the rededication ceremony, and on entering the loco shed was greeted with the immaculate fleet of steam locos, the O&K “Max” below being one of the more recent restorations.
Outside in the fitful sunshine, was the star “Edward Sholto”. Andrew has worked hard to ensure that the locomotive has been conserved and restored, using as many original components as possible, and the result is a superb restoration with a loco that looks lived in and true to its long-lived status. It was nice that the two new Hunslet quarry tanks that live at Statfold were also in steam, allowing a three loco line up during the morning.
After a fine speech by Andrew and a blessing of the loco, I took a quick look around the railway, escorted by Phill Bates, one of Graham’s employees, who I knew as one of my voulnteers at Snibston over ten years ago. Here is a small turntable with two South African Funkey mines diesels flanking Roy Etherington’s compressed air loco “Issinsid”, a replica of a 19th century loco by Lishman and Young which worked at the Lambton Collieries in County Durham. Roy hankers after a visit to the North East by the engine – we shall have to see about that!
Hunslet also undertake commercial contract overhauls and rebuilds, here a Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 side tank converted from a saddle tank awaits its turn in the workshops. Built as works number 1631, it began life as a sister to “Renishaw” on the Tanfield Railway.
I briefly swapped hats to have a look at The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum Trust’s Baguley 0-4-0 petrol mechanical loco number 774, on loan for display at Statfold as it was built down the road in Burton on Trent. The loco was cosmetically restored at the Amerton Railway and it was the first time I’d seen it since it has been done.
New into service with the paint still tacky and smelling fresh was Fowler “Saccharine”, once part of the scheme to run a railway at Kielder in Northumberland by my friend and predecessor Jim Rees. The coach behind the loco was also part of the plan. They are seen at Oak Tree Halt, waiting for “Edward Sholto” to pass with a slate train.
A splendid day, and thanks to Andrew Neale for the invite, and Graham Lee and Henry Noon for their time and hospitality. The Statfold Barn Railway is on private land, but has three open days a year – keep an eye out for them!