Wheldale is a standard Austerity, from one of the first batches to be built by Hunslet Engine Company, Leeds. It was a development of their 18″ 50550 class – to which S112 belongs. It was built in 1944, bearing their works number 3168. Although it is referred to by its NCB number, S134, it became part of the Army’s fleet, based at Bicester, as their No. 134 – it would appear that the coal board simply added an ‘S’ prefix later!
Wheldale came to the railway from NCB Wheldale Colliery, Castleford, where it had been at work until the early 1980’s. Whilst it was at Wheldale, two ladders were fitted to the sides of the tank, to allow for easier access to the tank filler. These have been retained and serve as a good way of recognising the loco from old photos!
Wheldale arrived at the railway in good mechanical condition, but required a new set of boiler tubes – thankfully the money was raised for these quickly, and the loco was returned to service for a ten year spell until its boiler certificate expired mid way through the 1990’s.
Wheldale became one of the main locomotives in the railway’s fleet, and some publicity posters are still available featuring this – notably the current poster which shows the loco in Bolton Abbey Station in steam – which has not yet happened!
A sad, forlorn looking Wheldale can be viewed at Bolton Abbey Station – at the far end of the platform. It’s expected to move to Embsay soon when restoration starts in earnest.
Wheldale is now owned by Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway, and a huge fundraising effort is underway to fund it’s restoration. The cost of this will be substantial – well in excess of £100,000 – and that’s using our own volunteers with free labour! Fortunately, we have a handful of dedicated people who are making great progress with the fundraising – you might encounter Mike & Malc on our trains raising money.
At the beginning of 2017 we have raised nearly £40,000 – enough money to make a start purchasing items and materials for the forthcoming restoration. Clearly we’ve still got a way to go, perhaps you’d like to help us get there?
Donate to the Wheldale Restoration Fund
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