The Chinnor branch has seen a succession of visiting pannier tanks from the South Devon Railway. Martin Creese describes a photo charter in wintry conditions in Oxfordshire.
The early return of London Transport-liveried 0-6-0PT L92 (5786) to its home railway in South Devon, brought about the unexpected return of former Weymouth Docks and latterly Wenford Bridge 0-6-0PT
No. 1369 to the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway to work its Santa and post-Christmas specials.
The locomotive had spent the 2015 season on hire to the railway and, but for a quirk of fate, would have opened my 30742 Charters 2016 season. Instead its return, now resplendent in British Railways black livery, brought about the opportunity to close the season with a welcome festive season event.
No. 1369 is the only survivor of a class of six locomotives designed by Charles Collett and built at Swindon in 1934 which were a development of the 1361 class represented by No. 1363 at Didcot in preservation – pannier tanks replacing saddle tanks. It spent much of its working life at Swindon works, shunting the extensive works complex. In 1960 and late in its career came the transfer to the Southern Region, for which it is much better known, and an allocation to Weymouth for working on the Weymouth Harbour branch.
Then with dieselisation looming, came a further transfer in 1962 to Wadebridge to replace the Beattie well tanks on the line to Wenford Bridge. Withdrawal came in 1964 with the locomotive being acquired for preservation on the then Dart Valley Railway at Buckfastleigh where it has been based since.
When No. 1369 steamed from Wadebridge to Totnes via Bodmin and Plymouth on February 20, 1965, it became the last steam engine to be operated by BR in Cornwall. It had been purchased by a fund comprising four joint Dart Valley/Great Western Society members and although it moved up the branch to Buckfastleigh, it still took part in GWS events at its Totnes base. When the GWS moved all its stock to Didcot in December 1967, No. 1369 stayed behind in the South West.
Read more in Issue 225 of HR – out now!Enjoy more Heritage Railway reading in the four-weekly magazine. Click here to subscribe.