The RHTT and The Clay Empties
Jamie Dyke Roger Winnen
Today (30th September 2017) I paid a visit to our local preserved line, the East Somerset Railway at Cranmore. When I got to the junction of the road leading down to the village and station, which lies just off the A361 east of Shepton Mallet, an abnormal load was seen to be making its way up the narrow lane. This load consisted of BR Ivatt 'Mickey Mouse' Tank Engine No 41312. The 1952 Crewe-built loco was just departing for its home railway, the Mid-Hants following it's appearance alongside newly restored sister 41313 (also Crewe-built in 1952), itself due to depart soon for the Isle of Wight steam railway.
Today's motive power was Ivatt class 2 2-6-0 number 46447, another IoW SR-owned loco but on loan to the ESR for a period of 10 years following restoration here from scrap condition. The loco was built at Crewe in 1950 and withdrawn in 1966, then sold to Woodhams, Barry Dock, South Wales from where it was sold in 1972. It re-entered service in October 2014.
In the shed at Cranmore was BR 41313, imminently due to leave for the I of W following a fast-track restoration that started here in early 2015 and ended with the loco's return to service after a 52 year gap on June 24th 2017. Resident GWR tank engine 5637 which was built at Swindon in 1925 was also present.
Outside the diesel and carriage maintenance shed was former Scottish 'McCrompton' D5410. Also numbered 27123 27205 and 27059 at different times this loco arrived from Kidderminster (Severn Valley Railway) for restoration in February 2016.
The former Bitumen sidings held first generation DMU cars 51909 and 56271 plus a Sentinel shunter.
Highlight of the visit for me was the discovery inside the recently built 'Sentinel shed' of a previously unknown large enamel 3 piece sign that apparently stood next to the main west of England line close by Westbury Cement Works during the 1960s. It was found during demolition work at the plant in 2016 and very kindly donated to the ESR by Tarmac Ltd. Also in the shed is a Sentinel shunter (PBA 42) dating from 1965 that itself spent several years at Westbury Cement works and still carries remnants of the Blue Circle livery.
Since my last visit the shop has expanded it's range of local interest books and now includes a quantity of pre-owned volumes too, all reasonably priced and well displayed. Add in a cafe/restaurant, a very interesting collection of relics on display in the former booking office, the period fixtures both on the station and in the yards, and a couple of hours here is indeed time well spent. An enjoyable visit with plenty of interest to see and experience.
As usual, a much appreciated and detailed account. Many thanks Guy