32646 was built at Brighton in 1877 as 46 Newington and was based at Battersea in South London. In 1902 it became 646, before being sold (along with 68 Clapham) to the London and South Western Railway (LSWR), for £500 with 574,000 miles on the clock, in 1903 where it became number 734. After being housed in Guildford, it was intended to operate the Lyme Regis branch line. This line, owned by the Axminster & Lyme Regis Light Railway Company and operated by the LSWR, had notorious steep gradients and sharp curves, was completed in July 1903. Few engines were suitable to operate on such a difficult line, especially as it had been lightly laid. While the line was completed, it worked the Guildford to Bournemouth via Alton line, following what is now the Mid Hants Railway.
The Terriers on the Lyme Regis line were replaced in 1906 by O2 class engines. It then worked various small parts of the LSWR network, such as between Yeovil Junction and Yeovil Town, Botley to Bishops Waltham, Exmouth and Bournemouth.
In the early years of the 20th Century, the Isle of Wight Central Railway (IWCR) had operated trains to the West Wight on the line owned by the Freshwater, Yarmouth & Newport Railway (FYNR). By 1911 the two companies were in serious dispute regarding this, and by June 1913, after two years of talks failed, the FYNR and the IWCR parted on bad terms. The FYNR therefore needed their own locomotives, purchasing a Manning Wardle Q class to become no 1 and also hired the Terrier destined to become Freshwater from the LSWR for 15 shillings a day with an option to purchase for £900, which was taken up in 1917. This, their no 2 engine, was painted in a bright green livery, lines with white and black and travelled an average of 150 miles a day. In 1923 after Grouping, the bankrupt FYNR reluctantly became part of Southern Railways and it acquired the name Freshwater and was renumbered W8 it continued to serve the Island’s railways well until its next owner, British Railways.
After years of service, in 1949 it was one of the last two Terriers to leave the Island and was sent to Eastleigh. In Eastleigh it was renumbered 32646 and worked on Hayling Island. In 1958 it returned to Brighton Works and was the last locomotive overhauled there before the works closed.
BR motive power depot allocations.
- Fratton depot closed in November 1959 resulting in the transfer to Eastleigh.
When Hayling Island’s line was closed in 1963, Freshwater was withdrawn from service. Freshwater was almost sold to the Hayling Terrier Fund, an organisation intending to preserve a Terrier engine on Hayling Island, but when they could not raise the full amount. Instead Charles Ashby of the Sadler Railcar Company, bought it for £750.
The Sadler Railcar Company, also known as the Sadler Rail Coach Company, were based at Droxford on Hampshire’s Meon Valley line. The Meon Valley Line had run between Alton and Fareham. It was one of the last mainline railways when built in Britain in 1903, but the southern section closed in 1962. Ashby bought Droxford Station, where he designed the Sadler Rail Coach railbus. Launching a company called Sadler Vectrail Ltd in 1966, he planned to reopen the Island’s Ryde to Cowes railway using his railbuses, but sadly this never came to fruition. Ashby was keen to operate private charters and operated Freshwater on his section of the Meon Valley line between Droxford and Wickham. The hoped for Meon Valley Railway suffered a series of severe setbacks, following a fire at Droxford and the closure of the mainline connection. The line south of Wickham was closed in 1974, with the last line closed 1975.
In 1966 Freshwater was sold to the Portsmouth-based Brickwoods Brewery, who wanted it to be an eye-catching pub sign on nearby Hayling Island, outside their new Hayling Billy pub. There it remained on a plinth for a decade, initially under the name Newington until a team of Islanders travelled over to the Haying Island in the 1970s and repainted her back to Freshwater. Brickwoods Brewery was bought by Whitbread and in 1979 Whitbread donated Freshwater to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
As Freshwater was in a better preserved condition than the other Terrier tank owned by the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, Newport, efforts were made to restore it first and in June 1981, Freshwater returned to traffic on the Isle of Wight once more. Freshwater quickly established itself as a reliable workhorse, and in 1984 was the only working steam engine the railway had.
In 1998 the Isle of Wight Steam Railway demonstrated its commitment to the operation of steam into the 21st century by commissioning a brand new boiler for 8, built at a cost of £35,000 by Israel Newton of Bradford.
The boiler certificate expired in March 2019 but the locomotive was taken out of service at the end of the 2018 season.
In August 2018 the locomotive was moved to the Train Story at Havenstreet. It was planned to to start work on the boiler work with work on the overhaul of the rest of the locomotive at a later date. The aim was to have the engine back in traffic in later summer 2019 but this did not happen.
The boiler was lifted off the frames at the end of March 2020.
In January 2022 it was anticipated that the locomotive would be back in service later in the year. It will continue to wear the Southern dark olive livery.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Isle of Wight Steam Railway||Under overhaul||Isle of Wight Steam Railway|
- 31751 (LBSCR 54 Waddon, SR 1751, SR A751, BR 680S & BR 31751)
- 82 Boxhill (LBSCR 82 Boxhill, LBSCR 682 & SR 380S)
- 32636 (LBSCR 72 Fenchurch, SR B636, SR 2636 & BR 32636)
- 32640 (LBSCR 40 Brighton, IoW W11 Newport, SR 2640 & BR 32640)
- 32650 (LBSCR 50 Whitechapel, LBSCR 650, SR B650, IoW W9 Fishbourne, SR 2650, BR DS515 & BR 32650
- 32655 (LBSCR 55 Stepney, LBSCR 655, SR B655, SR 2655 & BR 32655
- 32662 (LBSCR 62 Martello, LBSCR 662, SR B662, SR 2662 & BR 32662)
- 32670 (LBSCR 70 Poplar, Rother Valley Railway 3 Bodian & BR 32670)
- 32678 (LBSCR 78 Knowle, LBSCR 678, SR B678, IoW W14 Bembridge, SR 2678 & BR 32678)