Churchward centenarian returns to SVR service

By Paul Appleton

THE scheduled intermediate overhaul of Churchward 2-8-0 No. 2857 was completed on time for it to star in its own 100th birthday event at the head of a loose-coupled freight during the Severn Valley Railway’s Goods Train Gala over the weekend of June 2-3.

At the same time, the locomotive’s comeback helped alleviate a mini-crisis on the SVR after a spate of lineside fires in early May forced the withdrawal of Ivatt 4MT mogul No. 43106 on May 7, which had sustained a distorted ashpan and was spilling hot ash onto trackside vegetation.

GWR 2-8-0 No. 2857 crosses Ribbenhall viaduct on June 2. JOHN TITLOW

Worse was to come with the enforced withdrawal of Bulleid West Country light Pacific No. 34027 Taw Valley on May 11 for allegedly being the cause of more fires, and with GWR 0-6-0PT No. 7714 out for a boiler washout, the remaining steam locomotives (Nos. 7802 Bradley Manor and 0-6-0PT No. 1501) had to be supplemented by diesels.

No. 43106 has now re-entered traffic and the railway once again has six locomotives capable of hauling at least six coaches along the full 16 miles of line. Collett 0-4-2T No. 1450 is also serviceable and Port Talbot Railway/GWR 0-6-0ST No. 813 has had its recent brake troubles cured, but is now away for an extended break at the Bluebell Railway. However, neither of these locomotives can handle normal service trains, although they do participate on Sunday luncheon trains, charters, footplate experience turns (1450) and of course, at gala events, where they handle ‘local’ shuttles.

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