One of the pleasures of hosting groups of specialist railway enthusiasts at our railway is that it gives us the chance to show off some of the more unusual members of the railway collection. The trust has an interesting story to tell covering the early days of successful internal combustion locomotives and how they replaced external combustion (steam) locomotives in their varied duties. However, some of these items are not really practical day-to-day working vehicles and thus they emerge from the sheds only on special occasions.
This weekend we were delighted to host the annual general meeting of the Narrow Gauge Railway Society, a group specialising in the history of narrow gauge industrial and passenger railways throughout the world. As such, we decided to exhibit some of the interesting and rarely-used items in the collection and over the last couple of weeks we have been checking them over to ensure they could be expected to perform reasonably reliably despite their age.
Firstly, we posed our recently-restored class H tank wagon next to the War-Department type Hudswell Clarke steamer repatriated from Ghana last year. We also operated a very early diesel loco from Hudswell Clarke, no D558 built in 1930. This was the second diesel locomotive produced by this major steam locomotive manufacturer. After a long industrial life at Beswick’s Lime Works at Hindlow near Buxton, it was preserved at the Cadeby Light Railway in 1971.
The former War-department 40HP Simplex was operating, as was the steam-outline Baguley locomotive no 1695 of 1928, based on a war-department design but built for pleasure use at the Lilleshall Abbey Woodland Railway.
… and finally a couple of ordinary-looking simplexes, but under the bonnets hide a pair of Dorman 2 cylinder petrol engines. One was built in 1936, the other, the last of its kind, in 1941. Ticking over they make an unmistakeable noise. Try the video below. Unfortunately we can’t (yet) duplicate the unique smell online. You’ll have to contact us to arrange a visit if you want the full sensory experience that the NGRS members received.