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STILL GOING STRONG OVER 100 YEARS ON

In 1910 the owner of Normanby Hall just outside Scunthorpe Sir Berkeley Sheffield. Bart. Asked Bassett-Lowke for a 1" to the foot locomotive of the G.W.R. only Pacific "The Great Bear" This we believe made by James Carson & Co Ltd of Cricklewood and can be seen on their stand at an exhibition in 1911 "The Great Bear" is at the back.(The photo is from The Model Engineers and Electrican dated October 26th 1911.) Photo below

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Sir Berkeley was a director of the Great Central Railway. "The Great Bear" was the name of the ship commended by Edmund Sheffield against the Spanish Armada in 1588.

In the photo's below, Sir Berkeley looking at an G. N. R. Pacific development of Ivatt Atlantic locomotive in steam and ready for a run on the railway at Normanby with the Great Bear raising steam in front of the engine shed. Also all his three Locomotives.

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Below "The Great Bear" with Sir Berkeley’s daughter Diane Mary driving with Sir Berkeley the second passenger. The first passenger may be Hon. Robert Digby who married Diane the driver in 1928. The building in the back ground is the engine shed, which is now used by the Scunthorpe Society of Model Engineers that run the railway at Normanby, as a workshop/mess room.

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The next photo shows W J Bassett-Lowke on the 4¾" gauge railway driving a Pacific development of the G. N. R. Ivatt Atlantic design. On the right "The Great Bear" in the background is an L. N. W. R. "George the Fifth" This photo was published by Bassett-Lowke after the death of Sir Berkeley Sheffield. Bart. In 1946. This photo like the other above were taken in the late 1920's or early 1930's

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After this the Locomotives were sold, and the track sold to a fairground operator in Mablethorpe Lincolnshire.

Early in 2006 the Web Master of www.scunthorpesme.co.uk Wilf Baker was contacted and informed that "The Great Bear" was down in Dorset and could be for sale, and had not run for eight or nine years but had a new boiler fitted in 1982 built by Frank Morley of the Portsmouth Model Engineering Society. The original boiler was still with it. See next Photo.

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The " Great Bear" was given to the Southampton & District Model M. E. Club in the early 60's as the club loco, because of the amount of work to do no one would take it on. Eventually it was given to club member Ed Salt as his own. Ed  re-gauged it to 5",  plus quite a bit of other work on it. It run again about the late 60's. It was sold around 1973-75 to Ken Woodroofe another member of the Southampton club, who eventually had it overhauled and the new boiler fitted

 Photographs were sent and arrangements were made for it to come to Normanby so the society could have a look at it and see what work it would require to pass a boiler test.

On June 2nd 2006 at 9.30am a box was lifted out of a car opened up and "The Great Bear" once more could breath the air of home. Also the first time anyone of us had seen the engine.

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A number of members were there for the occasion. Also present was Sir Reginald Sheffield the grandson of Sir Berkeley Sheffield. Three of the societies boiler inspectors set to and had a good look at it. A full boiler test could not be done by our inspectors because the loco did not belong to a member of the society. They deemed that it was ok to do a hydraulic test which proved ok and so it was steamed up and once again no problems and the safety valves lifted at the right time.

Once again "The Great Bear" was ready to run the rails at Normanby, a little wider on the wheels and a different track, not just a straight but a continuous one nearly a third of a mile long, but HOME at last.

After the first run round, the driver Mike Mills informed us everything was ok. So Sir Reginald Sheffield and his son Robert was taken for a ride on the locomotive that their Grandfather and Great Grandfather had built nearly 100 years ago. A credit to Bassett-Lowke and James Carson.

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The Locomotive has now been purchased locally and will be displayed in the museum part of Normanby and hopefully run on the track a number of times a year.

After some work, on a cold, damp and foggy day 20th December 2006  the Great Bear was again on the track at Normanby for a hydraulic and steam test. After a slight adjustment to the safety valves everything was ok and once again the Great Bear could carry the public. It's first public running day will be New Years Day 2007 the societies charity running day. 11am to 3pm.

If anyone can give the Scunthorpe Society of Model Engineers any further information about "The Great Bear" or any of the other two Normanby locomotives please contact Wilf Baker by clicking the link on the home page wilf.baker@scunthorpesme.co.uk  or by phone on 01724 358739.

Photograph Copyright

We have made a number of efforts to obtain permission to publish these photo but because of the age of them we have been unable to do so, if you, or you know who holds the copyright please inform us so permission can be obtained. Thanks