Urgent £120k Appeal launched to save Prairie No. 4110 for West Somerset Railway


The group of WSR footplate crew and shed staff have only until mid-January to raise the funds and make the purchase. The 2-6-2T has been a familiar sight at Minehead station since 2015 awaiting its turn for restoration, where this photograph was taken. GARETH EVANS

AN appeal for £120,000 has been launched to save GWR Large Prairie 2-6-2T No. 4110 for the West Somerset Railway (WSR) by members of the line’s Mechanical Engineering Department.

In a statement, the group said: “News of the challenges currently facing the WSR have recently become public. In order for these challenges to be corrected, the WSR plc requires significant sums of working capital to be raised quickly. Quite rightly, the Board of Directors have looked at areas where existing capital is tied up in assets that are not providing a return, or likely to provide a return in the near future.

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“No. 4110 was purchased by the WSR plc in May 2015 to strengthen the home-based locomotive fleet following restoration, once other projects then in progress were completed. The present need to raise working capital makes this ambition non-viable at this time, and the locomotive has been put up for sale with external offers already on the table.

“A number of footplate crew members and shed staff have come together to explore ways to protect 4110 for the long term future of the railway, as once lost it can never be regained.”

The group of footplate crew and shed staff propose to form a private limited company for the purpose of raising the asking price of £100,000 (plus £20,000 in the short-term for VAT) in order to purchase the locomotive from the WSR plc, thereby securing its ownership for future use on the railway.

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Restoration is not necessarily part of the immediate plan – protecting the ownership is the primary aim.

Tight timescale

The timescale for this purchase is very short, and group has been given only a few weeks until mid-January to raise the funds and make the purchase.

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The group added: “This will be no easy task, so we need to know as soon as possible the extent of support which might be forthcoming from the railway’s supporters and those further afield. We will need the equivalent of 120 people at £1,000 each – more for smaller denominations such as £200 and less for larger amounts.

“There is no point in wasting time making the WSR plc wait if such support is not forthcoming, so we’re aiming canvas for potential subscribers. We are not looking for money now, just a list of who might support us and to what value.”

If successful the group can be correctly incorporated and monies collected early to mid-January 2019.

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Please email Chris Ruddick on ‘gwr4110 AT gmail .com’ (remove spaces etc.) with your contact details and the value of your proposed contribution.

With Christmas this will be a difficult time to be asking for money but once 4110 has gone, it’s gone. Please help, preferably with a response today.

A brief history

Built at Swindon in 1936 and withdrawn in 1965, No. 4110 was purchased from Woodham Bros’ Barry scrapyard in 1979 by the Southall-based Great Western Preservation Group. The unrestored 2-6-2T was sold to the WSR in 2015 to fund the restoration of GWP’s 0-6-0PT No. 9682, which in a separate development has itself now been acquired by the Dean Forest Railway.

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