Hudswell Clarke    Works No 1604   No 4 0-6-0ST

HC 1604 Mid-Suffolk Light Railway - June 2018.jpg

This locomotive was built in 1928 by Hudswell Clarke at a cost of £1,560 following the placing of an order by the Dyer Company. It spent all of its working life at the Bardney sugar beet factory in Lincolnshire.

The factory was constructed on a 98 acres site which was purchased in 1927 for £6,000 and construction of the factory was completed later that year.

During these early years, sugar beet was primarily supplied by rail. From the southern growing region, as far as Boston, up to 4 trains would supply between 30 – 40 wagons each day. A British Rail pilot would shunt them into the factory sidings.

In 1930 the owners of the factory changed its name to The Lincolnshire Sugar Company which in 1936 became part of the British Sugar Corporation Ltd. The corporation was dropped from the name in 1982. In 1990 the company was sold to Associated British Foods and in 2001 the plant closed.

An idea of the size of the operation can be gained from some factory consumption figures for 1934 where it consumed whilst producing 750,000 sacks of sugar and pulp.

  • 25,000 tons of coal
  • 950 tons of coke
  • 9,800 tons of limestone

A train would deliver employees from Lincoln three times each day ready to commence on shift. It would wait at Bardney station for returning passengers leaving their shift. The last passenger service by British Railways between Bardney and Louth ran in November 1951 and the line was closed in 1960. In 1993 the Bardsley factory sponsored the cost of demolishing the railway station at Bardsley and rebuilding it at the Nene Valley Railway in Peterborough.

In 1954 a new diesel was purchased to operate at the factory.

In 1970 1604 was taken out of service and the following year British Rail delivered the last truck of sugar beet. Previously up to 250 wagons were delivered each week by three or four trains.

In 1975 the locomotive moved to the Nene Valley Railway before going to the Kirton Museum in Lincolnshire in 1981.

The locomotive now resides on the Mid Suffock Light Railway (MSLR) at Brockford. The MSLR was originally planned to cross Suffolk from Haughley on the Great Eastern Railway (GER) main line to other GER connections at Halesworth, Needham Market and Westerfield. The line as built was curtailed 19 miles short of Haughley and the branch to Needham was abandoned before construction started. The railway was bankrupt before it opened and then struggled before being absorbed into the Lomdon and North Eastern Railway in 1924.The line closed in 1952.

In 1990 a group was set up with the aim of preserving the memory the MSLR on the site of the old Brockford Station cattle dock. This became the base for the Mid Suffolk Light Railway of today. Locomotive 1604 is of a type that ran on the old MSLR which is why the locomotive was acquired and will be renumbered as a MSLR engine. It is currently being restored.

In June 2018 the rolling chassis of the locomotive was moved on the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway as a test run. Following what was considered a successful test of the bottom half the work will now concentrate on the boiler with a view to the locomotive steaming again in 2019.

HC 1604 Mid-Suffolk Light Railway - June 2018.jpg 1604 Mid-Suffolk Light Railway – June 2018

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