PRUSSIAN blue-liveried Peckett saddletank Kilmersdon may have often been viewed as a ‘sideshow’ at its home at Washford station on the West Somerset Railway, giving shunting demonstrations at special events.
However, in Cornwall, what was the last steam locomotive to work at Kilmersdon Colliery and within the Somerset coalfield has acquired immediate superstar status, as the first to haul timetabled passenger trains on the Helston Railway.
The mile-long line has had steam visitors before, but none had up to now hauled passenger trains.
After concluding a deal with owner the Washford-based Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust to hire Kilmersdon until early 2019, the 0-4-0ST, No. 1788 of 1928, began its journey to the far west on April 27.
Its first passenger working was scheduled for Sunday, May 27, the 10.30am departure from Prospidnick Halt, as part of its Return to the 1940s event.
Before then, however, Kilmersdon played a starring role in an annual parade to celebrate the life and work of the man who invented not only the effective self-propelled vehicle but also the railway locomotive – Cornish mining engineer Richard Trevithick.
The day after it left Washford, Kilmersdon, carried on its low loader, took part in the Trevithick Day parade through the streets of Camborne on Saturday, April 28, the only railway engine amongst a procession of all things steam – traction engines big and small, steam rollers, showmen’s engines, Trevithick vehicle replicas and even a steam-powered car – through the streets of the mining town as thousands of onlookers watched from the pavements. At one stage, local MP George Eustice boarded Kilmersdon’s footplate.
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