Head, Wrightson & Co        No 1     Coffee Pot 0-4-0VBT

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This locomotive was built in 1871 by Head Wrightson for the Dorking Greystone Lime Company for use at Betchworth Quarry.

The locomotive was essentially the standard type 1 design of the company but the customer requested two changes from the standard design. These were that sprung buffers be fitted in place of the dumb buffered option offered, and that a 300 gallon water tank rather than the standard 150 gallon version.  These extras added £10 to the £435 cost of the engine.

The following has been provided by Paul Jarman, Assistant Director (Design, Transport & Industry) at Beamish

The final steaming of No.1, the Coffee Pot, is sometimes quoted as 1939, sometimes as 1949 and sometimes later.  Credible (and dated) sources show it in steam in 1949, it was later seen out of use in 1958.  There are notes on the file that say it was rebuilt in 1952 – but some sources also suggest it was dismantled for rebuilding at that time.  The photo that you have sent through (The one below which is copyright of Philip Ross) shows the larger buffer heads which were certainly in place when withdrawn, so could offer a date of anytime up to withdrawal (whenever that was!).

Interestingly there is a record that I was passed by a researcher of all things Betchworth that suggested Coffee Pot was examined by the boiler inspector in May 1950 – by this date it can be extrapolated that it was operational in 1950 and, theoretically, into 1951.  The boiler carried at this time was its fourth (it is now onto its fifth at Beamish!).

The locomotive worked at the Betchworth Quarry until 1952 when it was withdrawn from service.

By September 1960 it was in a derelict condition when it was purchased by Head Wrightson.

The locomotive was moved to Thornaby where it joined the two re-purchased Seaham Harbour engines (Works No 21 & No 33).

Apprentices at Head Wrightson then restored the locomotive to what it was believed to have looked like originally. They also converted the engine so that it could be demonstrated (with wheels propped clear of the rails) on compressed air.

In 1962 the locomotive was offered to Beamish Museum but it remained at Thornaby until 1970 when it initially moved to the British Steel Corporation’s Consett Ironworks before going to Beamish Museum.

Once at Beamish restoration commenced and limited steamings, including rare passenger trips in converted chaldron waggons took place.

The locomotive was then in green livery but minus the Betchworth roof and handrail additions.

In 1982 Beamish benefited from a Manpower Services Commission (MSC) schemes to overhaul the locomotive to its 1940s appearance. It was then finished in a maroon as there was no indication of what the Betchworth livery was and operated again from the end of May 1984.

The age of the locomotive became a hindrance to its operation and by the 1990s it was again out of use and was stored in the colliery engine shed.  A key problem was the mounting of the cylinders and crankshaft directly onto the boiler, numerous leaks developing through the oscillating movement of the valve gear and connecting rods and the difficulties in ensuring that the mounting bolts remained secure.

In 2006 a major restoration project was started to restore the locomotive which allowed it to return to steam in 2010.

In 2011 the locomotive visited the Bowes Railway.

The locomotive is currently operational at Beamish Museum.

Coffee Pot at Bletchworth Quarry some time before 1952
Coffee Pot at Beamish Museum – September 1984
Coffee Pot at Beamish Museum – April 2015
Coffee Pot at Beamish Museum – April 2015
Coffee Pot at Beamish Museum – April 2018

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