Stanier 8F sold to museum in Israel
By: Robin Jones
The Churchill 8F Group, the owner of repatriated Stanier 8F 2-8-0 No. WD341 has sold the locomotive to the Municipality of Bee'r Sheva in Israel to achieve its aim in safeguarding the long-term future of the locomotive.
No. WD341 is to be the principle exhibit in the Bee'r Sheva regional railway heritage centre now being established on the site of the old narrow gauge station as part of Mayor Ruvik Danilovich's vision of establishing a 'Museum Trail' in Be'er Sheva's historic Old Town, now being renovated.
The plan is to cosmetically restore No. WD341 to represent Israel Railways No. 70414 originally No. WD414, in 1958 condition on static display at the old Beersheba station, which is currently being turned into a local heritage centre.
The surviving station buildings, dating from the First World War, are listed and the site is a declared National Heritage Site.
It is planned to display two or three other items of historic rolling stock, which will be on permanent loan from the Israel Railway Museum's collection after they have been restored by the Municipality.
While there are no immediate plans to restore WD341 to working order, it does remain an aspiration shared by many Israeli railway enthusiasts.
The Churchill 8F Group, which has restored its own Stanier 8F now running on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, is keen to assist if a decision is made in the future to restore No. WD341 to operation condition.
The station buildings will house a local history museum and a unique interactive display about the history of railways in the Negev area (Israel's southern part).
The locomotive was moved from Barry to Southampton Docks on Thursday, November 22 by Moveright International arriving at Southampton Docks on the morning of Friday, November 23. The locomotive was loaded on to Mafi trailers later that day. The locomotive is to be shipped from Southampton to the port of Ashdod by Grimaldi Lines on the Grande Europa which is timetabled to leave on November 28.
The owners had offered the locomotive and the frames of ex-Doncaster built 8F No. 48518 for sale over 12 months ago with a preference that WD341 was overhauled and returned to steam.
Despite concerted efforts to find a purchaser in the UK no one came forward although there was interest for the locomotive to be used as a source of spare parts. The deteriorating economic climate and the number of locomotives on the market for sale did not help in the quest to find a purchaser in the UK.
The owners were approached by Chen Melling the manager of the Israel National Railway Museum on behalf of the Municipality in October 2011 who made initial contact with Jeff Ryan of the Stanier 8f Locomotive Society. Chen greatly assisted with the negotiations which have led to a successful conclusion.
Representatives of the Municipality and Chen Melling visited the UK in July and inspected the locomotive on July 16 at Barry.
The sale is the successful conclusion of 12 months work. This sale will see a Stanier 8F displayed in the Middle East where they did valuable work during the Second World War and for a period of time thereafter.
The Churchill 8F Group would like to express its gratitude to John Buxton of Cambrian Transport who provided secure covered accommodation to No. WD341 for the past two years at Barry and also made the frames of No. 48518 available should a purchaser have been found in the UK.
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