34007 Wadebridge (SR 21C107, BR s21C107 & 34007)

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34007 was built at Brighton in 1945 as one of the first batch of West Country class 4-6-2 mixed traffic locomotives leaving the works as 21C107 and venturing west to Wadebridge for its official naming ceremony later that year. It is the oldest surviving West Country class locomotive.

Allocated from new to Exmouth Junction shed, its early years were spent in the West Country (after nationalisation of the railways bearing the prefixed number s21C107 from January 1948, with the legend BRITISH RAILWAYS on its tender, and the more normal number 34007 from March 1949) ln March 1951 when it moved to Nine Elms, the shed for Waterloo, at which time it was re-painted in standard BR Brunswick Green and its cab modified to wedge-shaped. Whilst at Nine Elms it operated mainly on the old LSWR tracks to Bournemouth, Weymouth and Salisbury, frequently to be seen on Ocean Liner special trains, and was even known to have worked The Royal Wessex which was normally a Merchant Navy preserve.

Paired from new with tender 3268, this was changed for tender 3266 at Exmouth Junction in 1947, and this tender was modified in 1962 to the cut-down version. August 1964 saw it transferred to Salisbury shed for its final few months before being withdrawn in October 1965. It was sold to Woodhams Brothers scrapyard in South Wales having clocked up 823,193 miles in service and arrived at the scrapyard in May 1966. Fortunately, Woodhams was more interested in cutting up old wagons than locomotives so it languished in the yard until May 1981, at which date it was purchased for preservation.

First bought by the Plym Valley Railway, Wadebridge was then sold to a group of enthusiasts who had formed a small company, Wadebridge (34007) Locomotive Ltd., with the sole aim of restoring it to traffic. The road was long and winding but after more than 25 years the goal of returning it to traffic was achieved. Initially based in Plymouth, Wadebridge returned to its home county of Cornwall to a site made available by Fitzgerald Lighting of Bodmin, alongside the Bodmin and Wenford Railway, at a peppercorn rent. Progress was slow but steady, with the usual problems associated with a project of this magnitude. First a shed needed to be constructed in which to carry out most of the work. This was a seemingly flimsy affair, with not a few peep-holes, but withstood the ravages of the weather well, even the winds of January 1998 which gusted up to 103 m.p.h. at nearby Davidstow.

When Wadebridge arrived in Plymouth led the through the streets by a police car whilst a marching band brought up the rear.

Work on the engine progressed (although for a long time it looked like a kit of parts with every item, no matter how large or small, meticulously labelled) to the stage where the rolling chassis was completed and the task of putting it back together again began in earnest. To aid this, the rolling chassis was moved to the workshops at Bodmin General Station in 2001, where the rebuilding was completed. The boiler was moved down in 2003 and was replaced on the frames later that year.

An unsuccessful application was made for lottery funding (too many Bullied Pacifics surviving!).

Work (and fundraising) continued and the locomotive slowly started to resemble a Bulleid pacific once more. 2006 saw a milestone event in the restoration with a successful steam test of the boiler and fittings taking place.

From that time the ten year boiler certificate started ticking away. Later that year the locomotive, with casing still incomplete, successfully made its first trip to Boscarne Junction and back, followed by a trip to Bodmin Road and back a little later.

Fitting, painting and fettling contined throughout October until on Sunday, 29th October 2006 the locomotive hauled a special train of invited guests to mark its renaming ceremony at Bodmin General Station that afternoon with the unveiling of its new nameplates performed jointly by the mayors of Bodmin and Wadebridge.

There followed a short period of operating on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway, then a very successful visit to the West Somerset Railway for their Steam Gala in 2007.

After its visit to the West Somerset Wadebrige was hired to the Mid-Hants Railway for a year. It paid two more visits to other railways during 2007, to the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway and to the Bluebell Railway.

Back at the Mid-Hants Railway some flamable material was left on the footplate overnight, with the engine in light steam, leading to the unfortunate events of 31st December 2007 when the material caught light, causing a fire that destroyed the cab. The damage was severe but was covered by the Mid-Hants Railway’s insurance so repairs were effected as soon as possible. Unfortunately due to the nature of the equipment on a steam engine there was a delay whilst items were sourced or refurbished, but by April the work was done, with the engine returning to traffic later that month. One beneficial side-effect of all this was that the tender had also suffered some superficial damage and needed a re-paint. The tender (hired from another group) was in pretty poor condition, especially the paintwork, so after the fire the pristine engine was matched with a similarly painted tender for the first time.

The Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society (MHRPS) bought the Bodmin and Wenford Railway Trust’s 73% shareholding in Wadebridge (34007) Locomotive Ltd. in 2008. The owners are thus the Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society/Wadebridge 34007 Locomotive Ltd.

In 2011 and 2012 agreement was reached with the Mid Hants Railway to use the tenders from Merchant Navy class 35005 Canadian Pacific and 35027 Port Line with Wadebridge until building a new tender Wadebridge is completed.

Wadebridge has had another successful year in 2014 with visits to the Bodmin & Wenford Railway, the West Somerset Railway and the Churnet Valley Railway.

It was at home in service on the Mid Hants Railway when it failed in September due to one of the main steam pipes having a hole in it. When the boiler-smith carried out an inspection he found that the other main steam pipe was also thin due to corrosion. Both pipes were removed and required new ends. The valve gear also in needed attention and a new smoke-box door was fitted.

34007 was taken out of service on the Mid Hants Railway in March 2016 following the expiry of the boiler certificate. It is now stored at Ropley awaiting overhaul although work continues on making a new tender.

The locomotive was moved to the Margate Railway Museum in 2018 so that it could be stored under cover prior to its overhaul commencing. It has been suggested that the overhaul may be undertaken away from the Mid Hants Railway on a contract basis.

In mid 2019 work began on stripping the locomotive down in preparation for an inspection to determine any plans for an overhaul.

In November 2020 it was revealed that “an extremely generous donation running well into six figures” had been made to the owners by Alexander Choremi. As a result the overhaul of the locomotive has been brought forward and there are plans to equip Wadebridge so that it can operate on the main line.

It was anticipated that with work on dismantling the locomotive would start straight away at Ropley. The air-smoothed casing, cab and tender were scheduled to be treated so that they can be stored whilst the locomotive is overhauled.

In January 2022 it was revealed that the overhaul of the locomotive had been agreed following the completion of an inspection of it in December 2021. It was also announced that it was intended that the locomotive would run on the main line following the overhaul.

An overhaul was started in August 2022 at Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway. The boiler and chassis were sent to Riley & Son Locomotive Engineering Ltd in Heywood. The work at Heywood is planned to cover the repair and re-tube of the boiler, the overhaul of the frames, motion, brakes, springs and cylinders alongside turning the wheels. The most taxing part of the work will see the repair or replacement of the inside cylinder. At Ropley the work to be undertaken includes the refurbishment of boiler fittings, cab fittings, copper pipe-work and cladding as well as completing the tender.

It is hoped to have the locomotive operational in 2026.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Mid Hants RailwayUnder overhaulMid Hants Railway Preservation Society/Wadebridge 34007 Locomotive Ltd
34007 Wadebridge at Eastleigh - 1951.jpg
34007 Wadebridge at Eastleigh – 1951
34007 Wadebridge in Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry – c1981
34007 Wadebridge boiler at Fitzgerand siding at Bodmin on the Bodmin & Wenford Railway – August 2001
34007 Wadebridge undergoing final stages of restoration at Bodmin General on the Bodmin & Wenford Railway – October 2006
34007 Wadebridge on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway – June 2008
34007 Wadebridge on the Mid Hants Railway – November 2011
34007 Wadebridge at Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway – June 2012
34007 Wadebridge at Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway – June 2012
34007 Wadebridge at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway – March 2013
34007 Wadebridge at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway – March 2013
34007 Wadebridge at Alresford on the Mid Hants Railway – January 2016
34007 Wadebridge in the scrapyard condition of 34019 Bideford. 34007 was under overhaul whilst 34019 was scrapped in September 1967. Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway – July 2017

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