A Narrow Gauge Survivor

One of the Kerr Stuarts in service during the conflict 

On the centenary of the outbreak of the war to end all wars, we take a look at one veteran of the conflict that is once again in fine fettle. The last time we mentioned our Kerr Stuart Joffre locomotive was back in February, when the casting for its new cylinder had just left the foundry.

If you recall, this engine was one of seventy delivered to the French Commission for their Artillery Railways to a specification similar to their existing Decauville design. These were sent out in 1915 and 1916 to take up their duties supplying ammunition and supplies to the front lines using a network of light railways.

To find out more about the role railways played in the conflict, tune in to Michael Portillo’s mini-series currently screening on BBC 2 “Railways of the Great War”, which is on at 18:30 each evening until Thursday this week. We are hoping to appear in the Wednesday episode, but we’ve not seen it yet so don’t know whether the Joffre’s “good side” will feature, but we certainly expect our Simplex locos to make an appearance, together with guest driver.

On test with new cylinder


As to the Kerr Stuart (No 3014 of 1916), several months of work have seen the cylinder firstly stress-relieved and then machined to the original drawings, a task involving many weeks of painstaking work, any error in which would see the new casting written-off. It was eventually delivered to Apedale on Tuesday last week, during our annual volunteer working week. Several more days of work followed and the locomotive was ready to test on Sunday. We are delighted to report that everything worked perfectly, which will allow the loco to return to the roster shortly.

So, after having been enthused by the telly programme to learn more, don’t forget to visit us see this engine and others in action at the Tracks to the Trenches event on September 12th – 14th. Have we mentioned that before? You can book tickets here.