Hudswell Clarke    Works No 1544  Slough Estates No 3 0-6-0ST

Hudswell Clarke 1544.jpg

This locomotive was built by Hudswell Clarke in 1924 to work on the Slough Trading Estate wher it became No 3.

It was used to haul wagons between the factories on the Estate and Slough Goods Yard, which was sited adjacent to the GWR mainline between Paddington and Reading.

Following a series of national strikes that saw freight transfer from rail to road, plus the general decline in wagonload freight in the 1960s, and the conversion of the Trading Estate power station (latterly Slough Heat and Power) from coal to oil, No.3’s duties changed. Along with near-identical sister engine No. 5 (Hudswell Clarke Works Number 1709), the remaining duties were the once-a-fortnight trip workings of 25T heavy oil tankers from the Goods Yard spur to the Power Station. A duty which ensured they were among the last steam locomotives working in industrial service in the south-east of England.

Around 1970 there was a move towards having the oil delivered in 100T bogie tank wagons. This would have required the track to be upgraded but it was calculated that it worked out cheaper to build a new unloading facility near the Goods Yard, and install a pipeline to the Power Station, rather than invest in the railway. Hence Slough Estates decided to close the railway, and dispose of the locomotives.

Both of the surviving engines were saved for preservation with No 5 now at the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway. No 3 initially passed into the care of what is now the Mid Hants Railway.

Around this time the locomotive was dismantled for a complete overhaul but because other locomotives were also being acquired for the line No 3 was left in a line of forgotten locomotives but only consisted of a rolling chassis and scattered parts.

Around the mid 1980s the plight of the locomotive came to the attention of the Slough & Windsor Railway Society (SWRS) who purchased it in 1992. The SWRS rescued all of the parts that could be found at Ropley. The firebox foundation ring was half-buried between the rails of one of the engine shed tracks and many parts including the chimney and smokebox door were never found.

The boiler was transferred to boilermakers Luggs of Billingshurst for rebuilding. A new firebox was needed, plus firebars (cast elsewhere) and a new smokebox. As money was tight Luggs understook the work during slack periods if money was available. Overall the process took ten years.

At some stage the SWRS had to move their railway operations from Stoke Place so the locomotive was winched onto a low-loader for the trip down to Blunsdon.

Restoration was completed in the engine shed at Hayes Knoll, and included the fitting of train (vacuum) brakes and steam heating pipes which had not been required for industrial duties.

The locomotive then ran on the Swindon & Cricklade Railway but following the completion of an overhaul in 2011 the locomotive was loaned to the Middleton Railway Trust.

The boiler certificate expired in April 2021.

It was reported in May 2022 that the boiler was shortly to be lifted from the frames at the Middleton Railway as part of the overhaul of the locomotive.

1544 at Slough Estates Ltd – circa 1967
1544 at Blunsden on the Swindon & Cricklade Railway – Circa 2006-8
Hudswell Clarke 1544.jpg
1544 on the Middleton Railway – July 2017
1544 on the Middleton Railway – September 2018

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