Cast your minds back, dear reader, to the heady days of March 2004. At this time, the vast majority of the Moseley Railway Trust’s rolling stock fleet was in store in a disused mill near Buxworth in the High Peak. The first fruits of the relationship with the Apedale Heritage Centre was the arrival of four locomotives for display in the Heritage Centre’s museum. One of these locos was MR1111. This is one of the “bent frame” Motor Rails of the type used on the WDLR light railways of the First World War. MR111 was actually delivered from the builder on 10 December 1918, and thus was too late for “active service”. It appears that the loco may have been used for a while at the War Department depot in Corsham, Wiltshire, but by 1928 it had been sold to the City of York’s Naburn Sewage Works. It was put into store in 1964 and then sold in 1971 to William Elliott & Sons of Rufforth. It subsequently joined the MRT collection in 1992 as a kit of parts. A painstaking restoration (including a new hand-made camshaft!) led to a triumphal visit to the Ffestiniog Railway in May 1995, where it hauled “Class D” bogie wagons in a recreation of the duties it would have performed in France nearly 77 years ago. With all our efforts on site being focused on preparing for the Tracks to the Trenches First World War event in September, it was inevitable that thoughts would move towards extracting MR1111 from the museum. In best Cold War Thriller tradition, a Prisoner Exchange had to be arranged, and thus it was that MR5038 “City of Gloucester” came to take its place in the museum. Swapping locos in the museum is not for the faint hearted, not least due to the slightly unpredictable nature of the floor. Also, the large roller shutter doors through which the locos originally entered were no longer accessible. Careful measurement concluded that the locos would fit through the fire escape double doors. Machine skates were used for most of the moving, and there were several very relieved people when the locos did indeed fit through the doorway.
MR1111 is now safely tucked away with all its old friends in the Aurora North building. Last time it ran, it was noted to have an oil pressure problem, but the CME seems confident in knowing what the problem is. Hopefully, MR1111 will take its place with the Old Contemptibles at Tracks to the Trenches. Check here for the event website – and get in touch with us here.