This locomotive was built in 1883 by Hunslet Engine Company and it is the oldest surviving locomotive which they made which is preserved in Britain (Works No 243 which was built in 1880 is preserved in Spain). It was made for the Cardigan Ironstone Company (now Stewarts and Lloyds) of Corby and it was named Vigilant.
Vigilant is an example of a contractor’s locomotive, built for use on the light temporary trackwork of construction sites and railway works. It has 2 feet 9 inch driving wheels, a boiler pressure of 120ps1 and weighs just 12 tons 7 cwt. The outside cylinders had a diameter of 10 inch and the tractive effort was 4,090lbf.
The locomotive had wooden buffer beams, wooden brake blocks, no steam brake, one injector and an eccentric driven boiler feed pump, Salter safety valves and a flap type smokebox door – all features which although an improvement on earlier pioneers, would have been considered outdated even at the turn of the 20th Century.
In 1903 the company disposed of its four-coupled engines and this locomotive was sold to Whitaker Brothers, a public works contractor from the West Riding of Yorkshire. The locomotive was very soon sold again, however, being purchased by Harold Arnold and Son of Doncaster, who used it in the construction of Embasy Reservoir near Skipton, Yorkshire, between 1904 and 1909.
Very little is known of the next few years, other than that in 1919 the engine was rebuilt, and in 1920 sold to Nott Brodie and Co. of Northampton. It is believed that the name Trym was acquired in about 1922 when it was employed on the construction of the Bristol – Avonmouth Portway, the River Trym, being a small tributary of the Avon.
The early 1930s saw Trym under the ownership of Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons Ltd, working on the Otterspool sea wall contract for Liverpool Corporation. Another change of ownership occurred in March 1940 when Howard Farrow Ltd of Hendon purchased the locomotive.
A second rebuild followed in 1942 when it was fitted with a new boiler. In 1943 Trym was used for the construction of a new marshalling yard and goods relief lines at Exeter on the GWR. It is thought that the engine may have been on hire to the Ford Motor Co. at Dagenham in 1954, although to date, no proof has been found to substantiate this. In fact it is possible that the engine may not have worked at all after 1947.
A short article appeared in the July 1963 edition of the Railway Magazine which mentioned that Trym was for sale. As a result it was purchased by a Quainton Railway Society member, and after storage at Luton it arrived at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton in April 1969.
In November 1989 Trym moved to the Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway Trust, where the locomotive was renamed Vigilant. The Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway worked with the Rutland Railway Museum at Cottesmore to restore the locomotive.
The locomotive moved to Cottesmore in September 2010 and by July 2011 Vigilant was back on its wheels after axlebox and journal work. Replacement seasoned oak buffer beams were cut to size, drilled and fitted. The boiler overhaul is now under way, with the front-tube plate currently being replaced.
The locomotive remains at the Rocks by Rail – the Living Ironstone Museum at Cottesmore.
In January 2020 it was revealed that the locomotive had been acquired by David Buck. At the same time it was stated that it was hoped that the locomotive would be back in steam in soon. The owner also indicated that he intended that it would move to his private railway but would not stay there as he wanted it to move around other railways and be seen more widely.