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Hunslet 0-6-0 saddle tank Austerity class built 1950, number 3694 "Whiston"
Above: "Whiston" awaits departure from Caverswall Road station with a passenger train
One of 484 locomotives built to the Austerity design hurriedly developed during World War 2, "Whiston" was in fact built by the Hunslet Engine Co of Leeds in 1950, demonstrating that the rugged and simple qualities proved ideal for collieries and a variety of other industrial railways. Characterised by inside cylinders and a relatively short wheelbase for the size of locomotive, the Austerity saddle tank has become a mainstay of many preserved railways in the UK. "Whiston" was delivered new in October 1950 to the National Coal Board at Haydock Colliery in Lancashire, before moving in April 1951 to Cronton Colliery. "Whiston" remained here until moving in 1961 to Bold Colliery near St Helens where it endured a hard life, tackling gradients as steep as 1 in 17.
For some pictures of "Whiston" in action at Bold, in company of other locos, see an account of a visit to Bersham and Bold in August 1979.
Major boiler problems brought the working life of "Whiston" to an end in mid 1981 and it was bought privately for preservation, arriving at Foxfield on 26 March 1983. A full overhaul then took place, heavy boiler repairs being contracted to the Severn Valley Railway. "Whiston" returned to steam in April 1986 and quickly proved its worth as a passenger locomotive. It is painted in the lined light green NCB livery it carried at Bold Colliery.
"Whiston" is probably now the best known locomotive based at the Foxfield Railway, as it has attended numerous special events, photographic charters at locations throughout the UK. It has also spent periods on hire to other museums and railways, including Crewe Heritage Centre in 1987, the Swanage Railway in 1990, and the Battlefield Line Railway in 1992. It has even become the subject of an 00 gauge model by Hornby Railways. Shortly after the release of this attractive model in the shops, one night persons unknown fitted the real "Whiston" with a dummy "tension-lock" coupling, purely to wind up the owner!
a website totally devoted to "Austerity" saddletanks, including a detailed
list, see WD Saddletanks.
|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.|