By Geoff Courtney
A former slate quarry locomotive that changed hands for just £30 in the 1960s has stepped into the breach at a west London steam railway after its resident engine was withdrawn for boiler repairs.
With its regular 0-4-0ST Darent out of action until early next year, the Hampton & Kempton Waterworks Railway has arranged the loan of another 0-4-0ST, the Hampshire Narrow Gauge Railway Trust’s Wendy, and ensured steam haulage will remain a popular feature on its passenger trains during the summer months.
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Wendy was ordered by the Ministry of Munitions from WG Bagnall during the First World War, but not completed by the end of the conflict, and was sold in 1919 to the Votty & Bowydd slate quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog, north Wales.
By 1930 it had been transferred to the Dorothea quarry at Nantlle, where it was named Wendy, but about 15 years later it was withdrawn and left to its fate in the quarry. That fate, however, was not to be the cutter’s torch, but instead preservation in the early 1960s by the then embryonic HNGRT.
Ironically, that price of £30 may have been regarded as a bargain even then, but it transpired that a fully-operational sister locomotive had been sold at the same time for a similar amount. Nonetheless, the trust, now based at Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum, near Southampton, set about restoring the engine, a project that was completed in 1979.
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