Willy goes solo to help Avon Valley’s RSH appeal

ROBERT Stephenson & Hawthorns 0-6-0T No. 7151 has begun the journey towards a return to steam at the Avon Valley Railway (AVR), helped along the way by a four-coupled Kerr, Stuart well tank.

On February 24, the AVR ran an extra steam day, featuring Bill Parker’s 0-4-0WT Willy (3063/1918) as sole motive power.

The special trains were operated to raise funds for the overhaul of the 1944-built ex-CEGB Hams Hall power station No. 7151; the well tank displayed a headboard that read ‘RSH 7151 Restoration Project’ throughout the day.

Kerr, Stuart 0-4-0WT Willy runs alongside the cycleway east of Bitton en route to Avon Riverside with the 15.32 Bitton departure on February 24. PETER NICHOLSON

The big 0-6-0T has provided the backbone of AVR services since late 1999, and it even ran for a couple of years following its arrival at Bitton in 1980.

No. 7151 continued to be a regular performer until withdrawal in the summer of 2014, and since then has been awaiting its turn in the overhaul queue.

A small team of volunteers has begun removing the smaller items ahead of a full strip down, which will allow for an in-depth inspection to be carried out.

The boiler will likely be sent away for overhaul, but the railway hopes a lot of the general repair work can be carried out by volunteers, thereby reducing the total cost of the overhaul.

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