A Well Tank

Do you know, it is just about a month since I last wrote about trains although I did have some luggage labels about three weeks ago? No wonder I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms!

Perhaps it is time again to look at an old friend from the very early 1960s – it’s a sweet little tank engine which for some reason was classed as an ‘0298’. The class was also known as Beattie Well Tanks. They were designed by Joseph Beattie and a well tank, for water, was sited under the boiler and footplate.

These tanks were introduced in 1863 to operate what were then very lightweight London suburban trains. They worked well but as train sizes had to grow they became too small for the task. Production ceased in 1875 and locos migrated to the west of England to operate branch line services there. The engine I show here was part of a batch produced in 1874.

By 1895 most of the 85 engines built had gone but three had found their way to the Bodmin area in Cornwall where they were found to be the ideal loco for the china clay trains on the Wenford Bridge line. The three old locos stayed put until 1962 enabling me as a train spotter to see them and as a rail enthusiast to travel on a special train around south west London which was hauled by two of them. It should be said that the locos were quite considerably altered during what proved to be a very long working life.

Two of them have been preserved and here is one of them on shed at Bodmin as a preserved loco in the year 2003.

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What a lovely old lady this is – and it is one of the locos I have been pulled by. Of course, I have my ticket for that journey – but no photos taken by me.

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Here we see (not for the first time on this blog) my brother, on the right, and I spotting the loco at Wadebridge in 1961.

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No doubt, like most people, I can be amazed at the changes which have taken place during my life time. It seems unthinkable, now, that you might find mainline railways being powered by locos or trains that were close on 90 years old. But there she was and still doing a useful job.

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