Bagnall Austerity makes heritage era debut

ON Friday, April 21, after a prolonged restoration, Bodmin & Wenford Railway-based Bagnall Austerity 0-6-0ST No. 2766 was lit up at Bodmin General station.

The following day it was successfully steamed, and then moved up and down the yard under its own power for the first time since 1976.

Bagnall Austerity 0-6-0ST No. 2766 in the yard at Bodmin General. PHIL HAWKE

It now awaits boiler certification, scheduled for early May, and lining out. If all goes well, and after running in, it will enter service on the BWR this summer.

Built at Stafford in 1944 for the War Department it was dispatched to Calais on February 2, 1945 as WD No. 75178, but was too late to contribute in General Montgomery’s push towards the Rhine. After two years in storage it was returned to Britain and sold to the newly-formed National Coal Board.

It then spent its working life in and around South Wales collieries, and survived a spectacular accident at Maesteg in 1971. Five years later, it was preserved at the then Dart Valley Railway at Buckfastleigh, but never entered service. In May 1995 it was purchased by the Cornish Steam Locomotive Preservation Society, and moved to Bodmin.

Led by Phil Hawke, the small group had already cut its teeth restoring Devonport Dockyard
0-4-0ST No. 19. The restoration of No. 2766 has been lengthy but thorough, and Phil is now also chairman of the BWR plc. He said: “It’s been a long haul, but well worth it. We now look forward to 10 years of No. 2766 earning its keep, not just at the B&WR, but also going out on hire to other heritage railways.”

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