The West Somerset Railway Locomotive Restoration Project supports the long term security of locomotives operating on the West Somerset Railway.
The priorities are two WSRA owned ex GWR locomotives. Firstly Small Prairie 4561 followed by Manor Class 7821 “Ditcheat Manor”.
Small Prairie 4561 is at WS Restorations at Williton where staff and volunteers are getting on with the first phase of the restoration aimed at achieving a rolling chassis.
The West Somerset Railway works hard to ensure that a strong fleet of locomotives is available to haul service trains throughout every year.
The WSRA is supporting that effort with its two locomotives. Restoration of Small Prairie 4561 is underway at Williton and it is planned that 4561 will rejoin the WSR fleet as soon possible. Progress on the restoration can be followed on our regularly updated BLOG.
The Locomotive Restoration Project Purpose
is to support the long term security of locomotives operating on the West Somerset Railway, initially by resotoring Small Prairie 4561 to run again on the West Somerset Railway.
Give a one-off donation towards our Locomotive Restoration fund or set up a regular payment to help us restore 4561.
Small Prairie 4561
Small Prairie 4561 has been on the West Somerset Railway since being rescued from Woodham Bros scrap yard in Barry, South Wales in 1975. It passed into WSRA ownership in 1982 and restoration work got underway in 1985, with a mainly volunteer workforce, funded by voluntary contributions. 4561 steamed for the first time in preservation on 15 August 1989.
Having run 43,000 miles in preservation, 4561 was withdrawn in 1998 pending a major overhaul. Unfortunately the restoration was sidelined for several years. In 2019 work began again with the commissioning of new cylinder castings. The majority of the work is being done at Williton under the day to day management of Ryan Pope, with external contractors engaged as necessary, and experienced advice and guidance from Mike Johns, Bob Meanley and others.
In August 2020 a regular website BLOG was started, documenting the work .
manor class 7821 "Ditcheat Manor"
Ditcheat Manor, No 7821 was initially allocated to Oswestry shed and later Shrewsbury before being moved to Birmingham. In 1959 Ditcheat Manor was reallocated to Newton Abbot, passing through Taunton at times, before being returned to the Cambrian Lines and finally Oxley. The engine was withdrawn in November 1965 and sent to Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, South Wales.
Rescued from Barry in 1981, it was sent to the embryonic Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, before moving to the Llangollen Railway and then Swindon works. Restoration was completed in 1998, when it first steamed on the West Somerset Railway. The loco then worked on the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire, and moved again in 2005 to the Churnet Valley Railway where it served its last months of its boiler ticket in traffic.
In 2008, the West Somerset Railway Association bought 7821 from its private owner. A mechanical examination showed that the locomotive needed extensive and expensive chassis and boiler work, and agreed a static display contract with the Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon. The locomotive was relocated to the museum on 14 November 2010.
In 2018 STEAM museum was gifted it’s own locomotive in the shape of 2818 from the NRM. Therefore, with some reluctance it was decided to end the display contract for Ditcheat Manor.
Meanwhile, less than a mile away, the McARthurGlen Designer Outlet centre received the news that the Severn Valley Railway wished to remove no 7819 Hinton Manor which had been on display there since 2007. Round table discussions ensued and a plan emerged.
The big move was confirmed for 21 August 2018. 2818 left the NRM the day before and spent a night at services on the M4, ready and waiting for its new home. At the Designer Outlet, a floor had to be taken up to reveal the rails, and the glass frontage of the building removed. Ditcheat Manor was winched out of Steam onto the transverser, moved across to the road access and pulled back off and onto a low loader. The final move into the Designer Outlet was achieved smoothly the next day and Ditcheat Manor now sits proudly as the major exhibit in a GWR themed McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, that has a footfall of over 3 million visitors each year. Here the locomotive will be safe and dry, and a great ambassador for the West Somerset Railway. Volunteers from STEAM museum will continue keeping her polished and shiny in her new home.
In due course, when funds are available, Ditcheat Manor will be restored to run on the West Somerset Railway.