The locomotives owned by Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd have earned themselves a reputation for reliability and good performance during their various spells in traffic. Yet their owning group retains a relatively low profile, conducting impressive feats largely ‘under the radar’. Gary Boyd-Hope went to meet them.
On June 7 last year Collett ‘Manor’ No. 7820 Dinmore Manor left its home at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway to take up a temporary residence at the West Somerset Railway. The BR(W) 4-6-0 would stay in Somerset until mid-October as the principal hire locomotive for the railway’s summer season.
It was a hugely successful visit for the ‘Manor’ as it returned to the railway it once called home. During its four-month stay the loco passed a significant milestone by reaching the 100,000 preservation miles mark in August, and a month later achieved fame as the loco that came to Flying Scotsman’s aid after the ‘A3’ stalled on Crowcombe Bank.
Yet perhaps No. 7820’s most note-worthy achievement during its visit was the fact that it steamed for no fewer than 92 days, almost without a break. This level of availability, and the fact that each steaming was performed without any major issue or fault, is a testament to the quality of Dinmore Manor as a locomotive and to the small-but-dedicated team that owns and maintains it – Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd (DMLL).
For more than 30 years DMLL and its constituents has worked quietly to not only restore No. 7820 from ex-Barry scrapyard condition, but operate it for 10 years, put it through a major overhaul and build a new tender for it. At the same time it has completed the restoration of ‘2884’ class 2-8-0 No. 3850, also operated this loco for 10 years and is currently putting it through a major overhaul, which includes the replacement of its cylinders.
Today, DMLL is an integral part of the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway’s locomotive department, with No. 7820 forming part of the stable that will work trains over the line’s new extension to Broadway this season. But where did it all begin?
The origins of DMLL are rooted back in the early-1980s when two separate groups set out to acquire and restore a pair of ex-Barry locos for use on the fledgling West Somerset Railway (WSR).
The Dinmore Manor Fund acquired its namesake loco in January 1985, although the ‘Manor’ had actually left Dai Woodham’s yard six years earlier, having been originally sold to the Gwili Railway. The tender-less No. 7820 was taken from Bronwydd Arms to the WSR during the following March to begin a new chapter in its post-BR career.
Surprisingly the constitution of the Dinmore Manor Fund (DMF) was not officially adopted until the April of 1990, and in the September of that year No. 7820 was transferred to the Birmingham Railway Museum at Tyseley (now Tyseley Locomotive Works) for a rapid restoration. This was completed in 1995, 30 years after the loco was withdrawn from Wolverhampton’s Oxley shed.
Read more in the May issue of The RM – on sale now!