Steam engine restoration starts

MORE than a generation after it fell silent for the last time, work is today under way to bring a steam engine back to life at Suffolk's only full-gauge steam railway.

MORE than a generation after it fell silent for the last time, work is today under way to bring a steam engine back to life at Suffolk's only full-gauge steam railway.

The boiler of the Mid Suffolk Light Railway's only steam locomotive was lifted from its frames this week when a team from the army's Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) took on the job as a training exercise.

Now volunteers will start the long - and potentially costly - job of restoring the engine and bringing it back to life.

Paul Davey is leading the team which will be undertaking the work - which could take five years to complete.


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He said: “Now the boiler has been taken off we can really start getting to grips with the restoration work on it. We don't really know what the condition is until we can pull it apart.

“There are tubes in there which have to be removed and assessed - and there is a lot of other work to do. Once we know the scale of the project we hope to make an application for support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

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Mr Davey said the cost of the restoration could cost between £80,000 to £100,000, even though the locomotive is actually quite small.

The society has already had to pay £3,500 to specialists to remove asbestos cladding around the boiler.

The engine was built by Leeds-based Hudswell Clarke in 1928 and spent its entire working life at the Bardney sugar beet processing plant in Lincolnshire.

It was withdrawn from service in 1970 and was initially bought by the Nene Valley Railway which is based near Peterborough.

In 1998 it was bought by the Mid Suffolk Light Railway, and was put on static display at its Wetheringsett and Brockford station for several years before it went into the depot for the restoration work to be undertaken.

The Mid Suffolk has operated steam train rides over recent years with borrowed engines including shunting engine Little Barford which had been a regular over recent years.

However it only has one more year of operation before its 10-year boiler certificate expires - although the society is lining up other visiting locos for 2010 onwards.

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