A new addition arrives

Sunday, 2nd October, 2016 - By Barbara Barnes

She has arrived – our newest edition - a beautiful little steam locomotive.  Yes that’s a bit emotional but it’s how we feel – what is it about a living breathing piece of machinery that sends grown men weak at the knees – and she is all ours for the next few years.

So a bit about her.  She is owned by Portsmouth City Museum and is looked after by the GWR Preservation Group (GWRPG). We have her on hire for the next few years and part of our responsibilities will be to get her in steam and give her some tender loving care.   For aficionados she has a boiler ticket so is operational.

 She was built in 1949 by Peckett and Sons, at the Atlas Works in Bristol and used at the Hilsea Gas Works, Portsmouth for most of her life. During late 1983 she was moved to the GWRPG at Southall Railway Centre where she remained until a few days ago.  Her name is William Murdoch a much revered engineer in this part of the world.  The original William Murdoch worked in Cornwall in the late 18th and early 19th centuries on steam powered mining engines and he was noted for many inventions to improve their operation.  But one of his most important inventions was that of the first working model of a steam driven road carriage.   So not only is our William Murdoch the right size of locomotive for our operation – she also demonstrates links with our Cornish Heritage. 

Getting her here has been a challenge – as all good things are – and we are indebted to our supporters and Helston Town Council for helping us to fund the transport costs.  To the GWR Preservation Group for allowing us to hire her, to Allelys for transporting her and to many others who helped in the background to make this a reality.   After 11 years since the first clearing of the trackbed we have a steam loco of our own.  Not bad for a little railway.


So where now?  Well we need to learn how to drive her, maintain her, fire her successfully and make sure we are ready to bring her into service.  So you might not see her in operation just yet – but as they say sometimes the anticipation of something makes the event more exciting!

She joins her mini me version which we built for the Helston Carnival this September – not only did we get wet – well it is Cornwall – but we also won first prize in the large float category.  The cup is proudly displayed in the buffet – the team is now having a think about what we can do next year.


So what else is happening in our world?  Well we are coming to the end of the season – our last operational day is Sunday October 30th.  We will be having some Halloween fun on our last week – so if you like ghoulies and ghosties then you can indulge with us as the nights draw in.  Santa Specials this year are on the 10th, 11th, 18th, 19th,  20th, 21st, 22nd December and bookings for Santa will be open from the middle of October.  Watch the website for more information closer to the date.


And finally amid all the excitement we can’t forget our wonderful visitors who not only help us to make money to develop the railway but also bring their own fun and stories to liven up our days.  This month it was Jo Steele and family who lit up our day when he and his extended family invaded our platform and took over for an hour.  Their exuberance and good humour were great to see and we loved looking after their excursion from St Blazey.  And yes – he did give the lamp back before they left.  Best wishes to you all.  

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