100-year-old Bagnall-built loco back in service in France

THE Chemin de fer touristique de la Sarthe (or Transvap heritage railway), just east of Le Mans, has just completed an extensive and complex restoration of an 0-4-0T loco built in Stafford during the First World War for use in France.

The loco, now named Alice, was built by W G Bagnall (2064/1917) as part of an order for four locos for use by French engineering company Schneider & Cie, in Le Creusot, central France; two 0-4-0STs, one 0-6-0T and one 760mm 0-4-0T locos were supplied to Schneider, which operated steel plants, and at the time was a major armaments manufacturer.

Alice seen in steam at Beillé on June 4 (on the right of the picture). On the left is 1923 Corpet Louvet-built 0-6-0T La Cheronne, formerly used at collieries near Alès, in south-western France. PHIL CIVIL

The two saddle tanks arrived after the Armistice in April 1919.

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Schneider also built locomotives, and part of the old Schneider business is now owned by Alstom, which makes bogies for its French factories.

Alice arrived at Transvap in 1982 in working order and was used for several years after a second career at sugar factory Sucrerie Distillerie de Bihucourt, south of Arras, in northern France, from the 1930s onwards.

All of the other Bagnall locos supplied to Schneider are believed to have been scrapped in the 1950s.

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In the restoration Alice has been fitted with a new boiler with increased maximum working pressure (from 160psi to 180 psi) and several other new items for operation in France, including an air pump for train brakes, a generator to power the electric light, and a speedometer.

Three other Bagnall saddle tanks with 14in-diameter cylinders like Alice have been preserved in the UK.

Our thanks to Phil Civil for some of the information in this report.

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