NO 1, an Orenstein and Koppel-built steam locomotive, has come back to Downpatrick and County Down Railway (DCDR) after being sent to the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland’s workshops at Whitehead in 2004.
This locomotive was in the worst condition of the two steam engines we rescued from a County Down field in the 1980’s said the Chairman of the DCDR, Robert Gardiner.
He added: “It has taken two decades of work and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Interreg, as well a substantial amount from our own funds, to put in a new boiler, as the old one had corroded so badly it had to be scrapped. Work on its restoration was undertaken in a joint effort by our own team and the RPSI over that twenty years. It is a valuable piece of railway history.
“No. 1 is one two engines we have that were built in the mid-1930’s by the German firm Orenstein and Koppel for the Irish Sugar Company (Comlucht Suicre Eireann) for use in their factories at Mallow, Thurles and Tuam.
“There were a total of nine of these engines built, three for each factory, and they were used to transfer sugar beet wagons from the main line sidings in the factory complexes for processing.
“After withdrawal from service in 1960, the engines were sent to Dalkey Station, south of Dublin, for storage with a view to being moved to England for preservation. This project did not work out due to the key players finding out that the width between the rails in Ireland is different to that in England!
“The locomotives were then moved to Ballynahinch Junction for storage in 1978, as part of an attempt to resurrect this branch line as a heritage line. When this scheme failed to get off the ground the locomotives were purchased from their owner and moved to Downpatrick in the late 1980’s.
“And after a period of storage in Downpatrick, work began on rebuilding No. 1 while No. 3 was restored at the RPSI’s workshop in Whitehead. She was returned to service on Saturday 2 October 2000, and is currently dismantled for a full ten-year boiler inspection, and it is hoped to return No. 3 to traffic as well as soon as possible.”
Mr Gardiner explained that a new boiler was fabricated by Woolf Engineering, and No. 1 was moved to Whitehead in 2004 for completion of its restoration. He added: “While No. 1 will be ‘chuffed’ to see Santa this December, running all four weekends of the DCDR’s Lapland Express services, (subject to running in trails, it is hoped when the loco is fully painted that it will be given a “proper” homecoming celebration some time early next year.
“Our thanks go to everyone who donated money for the restoration of this locomotive for our “Steamed Up” appeal, and remember donations are still needed to get No. 3 back up and running – you can donate online at: http://downrail.co.uk/donate.htm
Not everyday drivers on the M1 get stuck behind a railway engine. The Mar-Train lorry carries No. 1 on the M1 motorway towards Lisburn, about to come off Junction 6.