Monday, 4 July 2011

The fate of THE WOOLWICH

This is the last of six parts delving into the history of the narrow gauge railway at the Royal Arsenal.  Read all six parts here.  Don't miss the next gem: subscribe by email to this blog on the right of this page.   

The only survivor of the class, WOOLWICH was put into storage in around 1954 on sidings at the Royal Arsenal, before being disposed of in 1960 to dealers Messrs E.L. Pitt & Co. of Brackley, Northampton, having been extensively overhauled and possibly a new boiler fitted during her last days at Woolwich.

During her time in the yard at Northampton, the conical spark arrestor chimney was replaced with one of conventional design. In April 1962 she was put back into steam, on blocks by J & W. Gower of Bedford, prior to sale and moved to Devon on 11th April 1962. There she was to assist with track laying and run on the newly constructed 18" gauge line at The Bicton Woodlands Railway.

During her life in Devon an air braking system was fitted to be compliant with HMRI regulations, which is fed from a steam driven Stuart pump mounted on the rear of the cab. To accommodate the air reservoir the rear cab wall has been extended back some 6". The believed original RAR livery of green lined out with yellow was changed to blue with yellow lining.

Unlike so many of our heritage locomotives that have rusted to oblivion, or have been cut up for scrap, WOOLWICH was well cared for in the last 40 years and has now returned to a Heritage Industrial site at the Crossness Engine Trust. It is likely that 100 years of working steam will be witnessed yet again to celebrate the durability of British Engineering in the post Victorian era.

Text (c) by Robin Parkinson and Mark Smithers.

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