Award and major grant for West London steam railway revivalists

By Geoff Courtney

A nascent steam railway restoration project in West London that opened only three years ago and currently has just 300 yards of operational track has received a major volunteers’ award and a significant grant that will enable the purchase of enough track to reach
the halfway point in its ambitious plan to reopen 1½ miles of a former waterworks line.

Steam near the Thames: Hampton & Kempton Waterworks Railway resident 0-4-0ST Darent, built by Andrew Barclay in 1903, heads a train on the line on April 23. The railway is currently in negotiations with Thames Water for a lease on part of the former 2ft gauge line that delivered coal from a wharf on the Thames to two waterworks. JIM HEWETT

The Metropolitan Water Board Railway Society was founded in 2003 with the long-term aim of restoring a stretch of a 3½-mile 2ft gauge line that ran from 1916 until 1946 from a wharf on the Thames at Hampton to Kempton Park, transporting coal to power pumping engines at two large waterworks at either end of the line.

It was worked throughout its 30-year existence by three identical 0-4-2Ts built by Kerr Stuart at a total cost of £2187 and named Hampton, Kempton and Sunbury. The pumping engines had a voracious appetite, requiring nearly 150 tons of coal a day which, prior to the opening of the railway, was delivered by horse and cart.

The two waterworks are still in use today, albeit not in the original buildings, while the railway trackbed is protected in the local development plan and is now owned by Thames Water, with whom the society is in negotiations for a lease covering part of the old route at the Kempton end.

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