Vol 29: Well Tank Charter, 5th-6th October 2007

Two days in the company of the two surviving Beattie “Well Tank” locos on the Bodmin & Wenford Railway. Martin Creese of 30742 Charters organised two days of photographic charters and we were blessed with marvelous weather.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD.

For our charter, the B&W put together two short rakes of goods trucks, including five “clay hoods”, the distinctive open wagons covered by grey tarpaulins used to transport china clay. Both days followed the same pattern. The train was shunted at Bodmin General station, ready for a 6 am departure to Boscarne junction. More shunting was followed by a series of runs from the station to the first cutting as the sun rose and, on Saturday, the mist cleared. After lunch at Bodmin General, we went to Bodmin Parkway where more shunting was followed by a couple of false departures. We moved to Dreason and Charlie’s Gate for an hour or two before heading for home. Finally, the train was shunted out of the way, and the locos returned to the shed.

(1 hour 13 minutes)

85 of Joseph Beattie’s 2-4-0WT well tanks were built by Beyer Peacock between 1863 and 1875, to work suburban passenger services, principally around south-west London. Technological developments, and increasing train weights, meant that they were soon superseded by larger designs. Some were relegated to country branch-lines, including the Swanage branch, but most had been scrapped by the end of the 19th century. However, three were sent to the Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway to work china clay trains between Wenford Bridge and Wadebridge. Their short wheelbase made them ideal for the line which had many tight curves. The first arrived in 1893 – by sea! Although the GWR connected with the B&W at Boscarne Junction in 1887, the LSWR, the B&W’s parent company, didn’t reach Wadebridge until 1895. The three survivors were finally withdrawn in 1962. Thankfully, two were rescued for preservation.

30587 belongs to the National Railway Museum, and spent many years in the small museum at Buckfastleigh, on the South Devon Railway. A new custody agreement with the Bodmin & Wenford Railway lead to restoration at The Flour Mill locomotive workshops at Bream in the Forest of Dean during 2001 and 2002.

30585 was saved by the London Railway Preservation Society, and now lives at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Quainton Road, where restoration started in 1999, and was completed, with more help from The Flour Mill, in September 2006.

The two locos were first reunited on the Bodmin & Wenford Railway in October 2006. The event was a great success, and so was repeated in 2007. The opportunity was taken to arrange a number of photographic charters.

It is almost impossible to disguise the fact that this is a modern charter. Despite everyone’s best efforts, figures in high-vis jackets, carrying modern cameras or talking on radios intrude into some shots. Therefore, I’ve edited this programme to show the locos to best advantage, and also to give a flavour of what it’s like to take part in a photo charter.

Many thanks to the B&WR and to Martin Creese of 30742 Charters for organising this wonderful event.

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