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Kerr Stuart 6wDM built 1929, rebuilt 1959, number 4421 "Rom River"

 
Above: Starting "Rom River" in the yard at Caverswall Road station in summer 2003
In 1929 the Stoke-on-Trent locomotive builder Kerr Stuart constructed two standard-gauge diesel shunting locomotives with mechanical transmissions, to demonstrate this new form of power for industrial railways. One, number 4421, was six wheeled, while 4428 was four wheeled. The six-coupled locomotive was equipped with a MacLaren Benz 6 cylinder 90 horsepower engine and a JAP petrol engine to start it. It was supplied to the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway in Cumbria; this railway is famous as a 15in gauge minature line, built on the alignment of an old 3'0" gauge railway. What is less well known is that it had a short standard gauge line to link the Eskdale Company's stone crushing plant with the LMS Railway.

The locomotive stayed at Ravenglass until 1955 when the stone quarry closed. Sold by a dealer to the National Coal Board for their Wingate Grange Colliery in Co Durham, number 4421 was rebuilt by Bagnalls at Stafford in 1959, and given their works number 8655. The engine was replaced with a more conventional 6 cylinder Dorman diesel unit with electric starting. It then moved on to Deaf Hill Colliery in March 1964, staying there until closure of the colliery in 1967. Sold by the NCB, number 4421 then moved to its last industrial home at the Rom River Reinforcement Co Ltd in Lichfield. When rail traffic ceased, number 4421, now named "Rom River", was preserved from there as a rare survivor of an early industrial diesel locomotive, and arrived at Foxfield on 2 November 1985. "Rom River" makes an interesting comparison to another maker's approach to the design of early industrial locos using internal combustion engines: Motor Rail 4wDM "Helen" built six years earlier using technology derived from WW1.

As part of a restoration and display arrangement with the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, "Rom River" had its cab rebuilt to the original design and received a full repaint in lined green before returning to Cumbria to spend a couple of years on display at Ravenglass. Since its return to Foxfield in 2003 it has been used in a diesel day and is in working order.

Above: Kerr Stuart 6wDM 4421 at NCB Wingate Grange Colliery in 1962 [late HB Holland collection]

The sister demonstration locomotive number 4428 was initially not as successful as "Rom River" but was eventually sold for use in industry and is also preserved, at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. For its entry in their on-line stockbook see: http://www.brc-stockbook.co.uk/redland.HTM

For more information on the Foxfield Steam Railway, its passenger services and special events please see the official website at http://www.foxfieldrailway.co.uk.