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Steam Locomotives

Peckett 0-6-0ST No. 2000
Loco in operation at the Helston Railway

The Helston Railway is pleased to now be operating ‘Peckett 2000’

The locomotive started its life in preservation in 1977 on the Nene Valley Railway where it remained until 1984. In 1984 the North Woolwich Old Station Museum in East London opened it it was placed on static display there.

Newham Council closed the museum in 2008 but some years before this the locomotive left the museum.

It has visited many heritage railways since 2000 and returned to Barrow Hill at the end of October 2018.

After a period on hire at Beamish the locomotive left there in June 2021 to go to the Helston Railway.

We are hoping that the loco has now found its true home and will stay here for many years – lets see……

Peckett 0-4-0ST No. 2100 “William Murdoch”
Currently undergoing full restoration at Helston

In 2016 we obtained our first ‘in-house’ steam loco. She is a Peckett 0-4-0 saddle tank, works No. 2100 built in 1949 and is named, somewhat appropriately, after the famed Cornish mining engineer William Murdoch.

She is believed to have spent her entire career at the former Hilsea Gas Works and upon the closure of that organisation ownership passed to Portsmouth City Council.   For many years she has been under the care of the GWR Preservation Group based at Southall and thanks to them and Portsmouth City Council we now have her on loan.

Peckett locomotives are the true work horse of many industrial rail complexes and the company has a long history of building robust engines.  In 1864 Fox, Walker and Company in Bristol began building four and six-coupled saddle tank engines for industrial use. They also built stationary engines and pioneered steam tramcars with most of their output being exported.  They were taken over by Thomas Peckett in 1880, becoming Peckett and Sons, Atlas Engine Works, Bristol. By 1900 the two companies had built over 400 locomotives.

The company continued producing a variety of small industrial and shunting engines at their factory located between Fishponds and Kingswood in Bristol. They became specialists in the field, with very precise specifications and standardisation of parts.

During the two World Wars, the works were especially busy, but by 1950 trade had largely dried up and, although in 1956 an attempt had been made to enter the diesel-mechanical market, the last steam engine was produced in 1958.

William Murdoch is currently undergoing its 10 year boiler overhaul and we are hoping to see her in service at some time in the future.

Peckett & Sons Works No 1788 Kilmersdon 0-4-0ST
Kilmersdon has now returned to her owner!

2018 saw the return of regular timetabled passenger trains to the Helston Branch Line for the first time in over 55 years. To achieve this the company hired ‘Kilmersdon’ from the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust. 

To provide more information, we have posted the following snippet from their website.

“When the Radstock collieries finally closed in 1973, the National Coal Board placed its industrial 0-4-0 saddle tank in the care of the Trust. Built by Peckett of Bristol in 1929 and numbered 1788, it was moved by road from Kilmersdon Colliery to the Trust’s Radstock base via an appearance at the Camerton Traction Engine Rally. Since the Trust’s move to Washford, it has given regular shunting demonstrations there, and has masqueraded as ‘Percy’ at the West Somerset Railway’s ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ events. Ownership was subsequently transferred to the Trust, and in 2013 following a complete overhaul, it appeared in splendid SDJR Prussian Blue lined livery.”

Diesel Shunter locomotives

Ruston & Hornsby, Build Nos 327974 & 395305

We have two Ruston & Hornsby diesel shunters, Build Nos 327974 and 395305.  Both are 0-4-0, 28 tonnes, transmission is via a 5 speed semi automatic gearbox and have a maximum sped of 15mph. They are of a successful design that dates back to the 1940’s; it is known that a prototype was loaned to the LNER for trails in 1946.

Their histories are very similar having both been owned by the British Sugar Corporation (BSC) and Northampton Ironstone Railway Trust,  although a bit more is known about 327974.

327974 was built in 1954 and was delivered new to BSC at Bardney, Lincolnshire on 15th October 1954 and cost £8,213.

She remained at Bardney until August 1982 when she was transferred to BSC’s works at Kings Lynn, Norfolk. On 7th  February 1997, Great Eastern Traction took possession for use at Hardingham Station, Norfolk until 28th  June of that year when she was transported to the Northampton Ironstone Railway Trust at Hunsbury Hill, Northampton.

In 2007 both shunters were purchased by three members of the Helston Diesel Group and arrived at Trevarno in September.  327974 was started up on 27th December of that year and she finally moved under her own power on 18th May 2008.  395305 was originally bought as spares, but it was eventually decided to refurbish her and she first ran under her own power on Sunday 3rd October 2010 following overhaul by the railway’s volunteers.  Both are now in use for passenger trains.

Although 327974 was painted in BR blue, and carrying the fake BR No 97649, when we obtained her, this shunter has never been owned by or operated on British Rail.  Two shunters of this design were purchased by British Rail in 1956 (Nos 11507/11508 later renumbered to D2957 and D2958). Although one was photographed working at Immingham they spent most of their lives allocated to Stratford East London until sold in 1967/8.

Goods Wagons & Brake Vans

British Rail General Utility Van

This van was built by Pressed Steel in 1958. There is little known about where it was based until 1988, but it did work on both the London Midland and Western Regions of British Rail prior to then.  By 1988 it was based at Peterborough and three years later at Cambridge.

In 1995 it was converted to a High Security General Utility Van by plating over its windows and the installation of roller shutter doors and Time Division Multiplex multiple unit wiring.  This was part of a scheme by Rail Express Systems (which became a division of the privatised freight operator English Welsh and Scottish Railways) to improve services for Royal Mail.  This included provision of a network of high speed overnight services and fixed formation ‘push-pull’ trains.

The van was based at Bristol Barton Hill by 1996, moving to Euston in 2003 and then back to Barton Hill in 2004.

In 2005, Royal Mail decided to abandon transport of mail by rail and the van became surplus to requirements and stored at Exeter Riverside Yard. By December 2005 it was moved to the West Somerset Railway.

In 2008 we purchased it from the WSR and brought it to Trevarno. The van has been converted into a shop and store. We installed a non-standard lighting system in the roof that filters daylight into the van so that electric lighting is not normally required.

During its life with British Rail, the van has carried various numbers including W86416, W93416, M93416, 95148 and 94148.

Brake Van – Bluebell

Little is known of this brake van’s history, but in early 2007, the she was stored in the Clay Sidings at St Blazey amongst CDA Clay Hoppers awaiting disposal. Eventually it was decided to scrap the van and she was stabled in another siding to await dismantling.

Members of the Helston Diesel Group moved in to rescue it and in June 2008 it was delivered to Trevarno station where its superstructure was completely rebuilt.  It entered service in 2011 carrying the first passengers on the line since 1962.

Brake van – Daisy

This Toadfit brake van was purchased by supporters of the railway in 2014 and renamed Daisy.

Built in Faverdale near Darlington in 1959 she was delivered to Inverurie in Scotland and used on the Oldmeldrum branch for most of her working life. She moved to the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire after decommissioning and from there moved to Helston Railway in 2014.  Unlike Brake Van Bluebell she has a lot of her original fittings including the guards

Passenger Carriages

Pressed Steel Co. Class 117 DMU Trailer Composite with Lavatory (TCL)

Originally part of a three car DMU set built by Pressed Steel Co in 1959 to operate Thames Valley commuter services out of Paddington.  By 1975 59521 was allocated along with the majority of the class to Reading DMU depot.  The services it would have provided were mainly local trains between Paddington and Oxford, with some extensions to Banbury and also workings between Oxford and Hereford, Reading and Basingstoke and between Reading and Bedwyn.  In the 1970s a Class 117 DMU was also diagrammed to work an evening service between Paddington and Birmingham Moor Street – hardly suitable stock for an otherwise InterCity route.

In 1982, 59521 was reallocated to the (now closed) Bristol Bath Road depot. Here it would have worked services in and around Bristol including to Taunton, Cardiff, Portsmouth Harbour, Weymouth, Severn Beach, and Worcester and on the Cheltenham to Swindon line.  Bristol Bath Road DMU allocations also shared work with Tyseley DMUs between Hereford and Birmingham New Street via both Kidderminster and Bromsgrove. Although unlikely – as Laira had its own DMU allocation – it is possible that 59521 may have worked into Devon and Cornwall.

In 1987, 59521 was allocated to Tyseley, where it would have worked most of the Diesel commuter services in the West Midlands – but quite possibly may have ended up on Summer Saturday trains to Skegness as well.

By 1994, when most of Tyseley’s services were converted to Sprinters or electrified, 59521 spent its final working days for BR based at Haymarket Depot in Edinburgh working services in Fife, and along the ‘Central Belt’ to Glasgow.

By 2000, 59521 was stored surplus to requirements at Perth and finally in 2001 ‘off-lease’ awaiting disposal at the Pigs Bay MOD depot in Shoeburyness.  In 2004, Dorset County Council acquired some Class 117 DMUs – including 59521 – and stored them at the former Nuclear Power Station sidings at Winfrith.  Their intention was to use them on a restored link to Wareham on the Swanage railway.  In 2007, the site at Winfrith had to be cleared and 59521 along with a Power Car was moved to the Midland Railway Centre at Swanwick, Derbyshire. In 2011, Dorset County Council confirmed it no longer needed 59521 and it was sold to private individuals until March 2012 when volunteers in the Helston Diesel Group purchased the vehicle for use on the Helston Railway.

59521 has carried a variety of liveries, green when first delivered in 1959 then rail blue.  When refurbished in the late 1970s it received a white livery with the blue band. This would have become Blue and Grey by the 1980s and finally into the Regional Railways livery it had when delivered to us – Scotrail branding being applied whilst based at Haymarket.  Until the 1980s it would have been numbered W59521 (the ‘W’ denoting Western Region).

We intend to use 59521 with one of our Ruston Shunters, fitting the shunter with vacuum brake equipment to operate 59521’s brakes.  A repaint into a more appropriate livery is also planned, possibly Chocolate and Cream.

British Railways Mark 1 Suburban E43147

E43147 is a British Railways built Mark 1 Suburban coach. At only 57ft long the suburban coaches were designed for and usually found running on branch lines, particularly those with tighter curvature.

The coach is fitted with Vacuum brakes and steam heating as original.

E43147 is on long term loan to us, with thanks to our friends at the South Devon Railway.