Sunday, 20 May 2007

Locomotive 813

'813' outside the shed at Shackerstone

In 1901, Hudswell Clark supplied a number of six-coupled saddle tanks to the Port Talbot Railway. The Port Talbot Railway was absorbed into the GWR and the locomotives acquired a number of GWR features before being sold off for colliery use. Number 813 is now preserved and, in 2007, visited the Battlefield Line. I first got an opportunity to drive the locomotive on the 5th May 2007, the Postman Pat weekend and later had another turn on 813 on a 'Thomas the Tank' day, before 813 went to the Gloucester and Warwick for their Gala.

The locomotive has a number of the virtues you expect of a Great Western locomotive and she is a free steamer, with a very effective 'front end'. The copper-capped chimney is certainly attractive, although I'm not so sure about the brass safety valve bonnet perched on top of the dome. After initially running with 4-coach trains, the railway obtained permission to run with our normal load of 5 coaches. With the regulator in second valve and the pole reverser linked-up to one notch from mid-gear, the loco seemed to enjoy the opportunity to show what she could do. With rock-steady steaming, the crews enjoyed the experience, too! The Ramsbottom safety valves allow you to get the boiler right up to the 'sizzling point' with just a wisp of steam escaping, in true Great Western fashion, rather than having the intermittent wasteful (and often noisy) discharge typical of Ross Pop safety valves.

I enjoyed driving and firing this locomotive but rather doubt that I will remain as lively at the age of 106.

More photographs