2nd January, 2024 by East Somerset Railway in The Railway
Here at The East Somerset Railway, we are thrilled to have been nominated for The Steam Railway Award alongside The Dartmouth Steam Railway for the rapid restoration of GWR ‘Large Prairie’ No. 4110 from Barry condition in just over three years!
The organisers have highlighted the difficulty in creating a shortlist for this year’s award due to the breadth and quality of achievements during the last 12 months, so we are thrilled to have made it to the shortlist of 10 candidates.
This is the only Heritage Railway Award which is decided by the public so please consider giving us your vote!
4110 was originally built at Swindon in 1936 and was initially allocated to Severn Tunnel Junction to undertake tunnel banking duties. Two months later it was moved to the Wolverhampton district where it stayed for the next 26 years.
In 1962 4110 was deployed at Taunton on the branch line to Minehead which is now the West Somerset Railway. It went briefly to Swindon and then on to Neath in July 1963 where it worked the Vale of Neath line to Pontypool Road until its last day of passenger services in June 1964. It was withdrawn in June 1965 during the conversion from steam to diesel haulage, having run over 730,000 miles in mainline service.
4110 was sold for scrap to Woodham Brothers at Barry and entered he scrapyard in August 1965 where it remained until 1979 when it was purchased for preservation by the Great Western Preservation Group at Southall Railway Centre becoming the 100th locomotive to leave the Barry scrapyard.
4110 then moved to the Birmingham Railway Museum at Tyseley for contract restoration. Only a partial amount of restoration was completed before the owners decided to put the engine up for sale in order to release funds for the completion of work on 5700 class engine 9682.
The West Somerset Railway put in a competitive tender and bought 4110 in 2015 and the locomotive was then moved to Minehead in June 2015. In 2016 it was estimated that it would take three to five years once the funds and resources to undertake the work were available. The plan was to return it to traffic in 2022. With no work having been done on the locomotive by May 2018 consideration was being given by the West Somerset Railway to a possible sale of the locomotive. Any sale would be conditional on the locomotive being hired back to the WSR once it was restored. It was later announced that the locomotive had been sold to the Paignton and Dartmouth Railway as this was the best bid and the WSR needed the funds. The locomotive was moved to the Dartmouth Steam Railway in February 2019.
In September 2019 the East Somerset Railway completed a deal with the Dartmouth Steam Railway to restore the locomotive. which would then operate on the ESR for the first 3 years before being returned to the DSR. The locomotive moved to ESR at Cranmore in January 2020 and restoration work was planned to start straight away. The boiler was lifted off the frames in February 2020 following the removal of the tanks, cab and bunker.
Unfortunately, soon after this, the Covid pandemic hit and all work in the workshop had to pause. As soon as restrictions were eased, the team had safe procedures in place to enable the restoration to continue. The boiler had a fair amount of new steel platework replaced along with hundreds of stays and rivets. A new set of boiler tubes and flues were installed before the boiler could be refilled with water ready for testing. Whilst this boiler work was going on, brand new tanks and a new bunker were riveted and welded together.
Being a survivor from Barry Scrapyard, the loco no longer had any copper pipes or bronze fittings so everything had to be made new. The frames, wheels, motion and axleboxes were all completely stripped down to their individual parts, cleaned, inspected, repaired or made new as required before reassembly. In August 2022 a fire was lit in the boiler of the locomotive for the first time since June 1965.
The restoration of 4110 has been a labour of love and it was fantastic for all involved when she returned to passenger service in March 2023.
To place your vote please follow the link below: