By Paul Appleton
THE Severn Valley’s own 4MT 4-6-0 No. 75069 has now become the firm focus of attention at Bridgnorth… and is set to return to action towards the end of the present operating season.
It will further strengthen the ranks of operational former BR Standard types on Britain’s heritage railways, following the debut of 2MT 2-6-0 No. 78018 and the imminent return of 5MT 4-6-0 No. 73156 at the Great Central Railway.
Built in 1955 at Swindon, No. 75069 is one of the final batch of 4MTs that was allocated to the Southern Region, being sent to Dover from new. It was paired with a larger-capacity BR1B tender, which gave it 4240 gallons of water and seven tons of coal, giving it the same route restrictions as a larger 5MT.
After just 11 years of service, the locomotive eventually arrived at the SVR, via Barry scrapyard, in March 1973, when it was restored in time for the line’s 1984 autumn steam gala.
During the ensuing 10 years, the Riddles 4-6-0 had the distinction of appearing on the main line, including a full season of ‘Cardigan Bay Express’ trains, alongside SVR-based GWR 4-6-0 No. 7819 Hinton Manor in 1987, but was failed due to a crack in the firebox, with Ivatt 2MT No. 46443 having to deputise for the remainder of the programme.
Following repairs it returned to traffic and, after a further series of Cambrian trains and other main line sorties, had one final fling when it operated a one-way ‘Exmoor Explorer’ excursion from Kidderminster to Minehead in April 1994, staying on the West Somerset Railway for the remainder of that season, during which time it was failed with boiler problems and withdrawn.
It was not until 2009 that serious thought was given to overhauling No. 75069, but an assessment showed that significant boiler work would be required that would exceed the timescale and funding available, so Hawksworth 0-6-0PT No. 1501 was fast tracked instead, the BR Standard shunted back into a siding and back down the overhaul queue.
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