On 5th August 1967 the LCGB organised the 'Widnes and Warrington Brake Van Tour' see here at the diamond crossing of the St Helens/Warrington lines, using Standard class 4 2-6-0 no. 76077 which was commendably clean. Four months later the engine was withdrawn. Copyright Colour-Rail (photographer not known)
Igniting a ‘pocket rocket’ on the GWSR
New project to see ‘forgotten’ locomotive return to steam
Class 4 2-6-0 no. 76077 (or ‘pocket rocket’) to be based at Toddington in the Cotswolds
In the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway’s (GWSR) boardroom at Toddington station, on a grey Autumn evening in 2018, a little bit of history was made that will ensure the rapid restoration of an almost-forgotten steam locomotive.
With a flourish of signatures, Chris Hinton, long-time owner of BR Standard class 4 2-6-0 no. 76077, handed his locomotive over to Toddington Standard Locomotive Limited – a brand new company set up to restore and ultimately, operate it. The founder directors of the company include Chris, as well as volunteers associated with the GWSR.
This was the culmination of several weeks’ discussion and negotiation to develop a fully costed proposal for restoration and operation of the locomotive on the GWSR. Although members of the class rarely if ever worked over the Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham line, it is considered ideal motive power for the 14-mile route between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.
Chris Irving, chairman of the new company commented: “This is a really exciting project that has already won the hearts of many on the GWSR. The dismantled locomotive has spent far too long languishing on wagons in a siding while the railway has developed and grown around it.
“The railway’s board has also fully endorsed the proposal for the engine to be restored and based at Toddington.
“Despite the 30 or so years the locomotive has been stored, it has suffered little. After shotblasting and painting earlier this year, the framesand cylinders were sent to Locomotive Maintenance Services at Loughborough, while the wheelsets were sent via the South Devon Railway for machining the tyres and crankpins. The boiler remains at Toddington for the time being.
“Full cost of restoration is expected to be in the order of £500,000, excluding the tender, which is missing. While the locomotive is the immediate priority, fund raising and preparatory work for the tender will also take place. If the locomotive restoration is completed before the construction of the new tender, we expect to be able to hire a suitable tender so that the locomotive can be used and enjoyed at the earliest opportunity.
“We are offering shares in the company and, assuming the funding comes in, we can reasonably expect the locomotive to steam in five to seven years.”
76077 is one of just four surviving members of the once 115-strong class and the last of the quartet to be returned to steam. Sister locomotive 76017, based on the Mid-Hants railway, visited during the GWSR’s Cotswold Festival of Steam in 2017 giving volunteers and visitors a taste of what is to come. The other survivors are 76079, based on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and 76084 on the North Norfolk Railway – the latter locomotive carrying some borrowed components from 76077, which are to be returned.
The rapid acceleration and explosive exhaust of these small Standard locomotives earned them the nickname ‘pocket rocket’.
Adds Chris Irving: “With so many new-build locomotives and overhauls under way around the UK – all of which absorb considerable sums of money, 76077 might be considered ‘just another project’.
“But I firmly believe that this engine offers compelling reasons for people to become involved and it’s already generating a lot of interest and pledges of support.
“Firstly, it is one of the few remaining ex-Barry Scrapyard locomotives yet to return to steam, but is fairly complete in terms of components, apart from the tender. It is in a remarkably good state including a relatively sound boiler and firebox, which reduces the overall costs and timescale of the overhaul.
“Of all the Standard classes, these appealing engines were among the most responsive and well-liked, especially by footplate crews – living up to the ‘pocket rocket’ image. And the performance and reliability of the survivors, particularly the two that have operated on the main line in recent years, has earned them a special place in British preservation history.
“This is a genuine, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help in the quest to return a remarkable engine to steam, in the glorious Cotswolds and with every likelihood that investors will quickly be able to enjoy a journey behind ‘their’ locomotive.”
The Class 4 2-6-0s were designed by British Railways at Doncaster and built at Horwich, Derby and Doncaster. 76077 was completed at Horwich works in December 1956. It was allocated to the Sutton Oak (8G) depot at St. Helens, from where it mainly worked freight services, then a few months before withdrawal, was sent to Wigan Springs Branch (8F). It was withdrawn in December 1967, exactly 11 years after construction. Along with four other members of the class it was sold to Woodham Bros. for scrap (76080 was broken up) and remained at the South Wales yard until 1987 when it was bought by Chris Hinton and brought to Toddington. Here it was dismantled and some restoration work was carried out on both the chassis and boiler but, for various reasons, lay unfinished for three decades.
Restoration has resumed under the care of a new company, Toddington Standard Locomotive Limited, to which ownership of the engine has been transferred.
The company will shortly be offering shares in the locomotive at £1 each (minimum subscription £500) available in a lump sum or by £25 monthly payments. A range of shareholder benefits will be offered including opportunities to view progress of the restoration and, of course, travel behind the locomotive when it returns to steam.
More information from the company’s marketing director, Ian Crowder – firstname.lastname@example.org or 07775 566 555. A website is being developed for 76077 which will be found here: http://www.standard76077.com