Engineer helps save and revive Sidmouth locomotive

PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 June 2018

Volunteers Ray Evans and Roger Hughes cleaning a set of Sidmouth’s 6’2” diameter driving wheels.

Volunteers Ray Evans and Roger Hughes cleaning a set of Sidmouth’s 6’2” diameter driving wheels.


It lay languishing in a South Wales scrapyard for years. Corrosion had destroyed the main body and the locomotive had lost many of its parts.

34010 Sidmouth passing Raynes Park station in November 1963. (c) Mike Morant34010 Sidmouth passing Raynes Park station in November 1963. (c) Mike Morant

Amazingly the wheels, frames and boiler of 34010 Sidmouth had survived. But it was clear it would need a lot of work before it ever ran again.

Retired chemical engineer, Nick Thompson, who lives on Regency Gate in Sidmouth, is part of a team of volunteers and paid engineers bringing the old steam loco back to life at workshops in Dorset.

“My Dad worked for the railway, and I lived right next to the main line in Woking as a child, and was always interested in trains,” he said.

When he discovered that Sidmouth had survived he got in contact with Southern Locomotives Ltd, the not-for-profit restoration group, based in Swanage.

Nick Thompson 'at the office'Nick Thompson 'at the office'

“I was a bit shocked when I realised that Sidmouth was just a collection of parts, including its boiler in Shropshire and other parts in Kent,” he said.

The engine was one of a series of express steam locos named after westcountry towns. It only came to Sidmouth once - to be named.

It spent its working life hauling trains from Waterloo to Dorset and Devon.

“Getting the grease and rust off a heavy lump of metal may not seem like fun, but there’s a lot of banter in the workshop, and we all have the goal - to see the locos running,” he said.

Nick Thompson with a replica of the Sidmouth nameplateNick Thompson with a replica of the Sidmouth nameplate

The first job was to restore the wheels, which needed new steel tyres. Sidmouth’s driving wheels are six feet two inches in diameter and the tyres are only made in South Africa.

They were fitted at the South Devon Railway in Buckfastleigh. The new nameplates were sponsored by Julia Creek from Sidmouth.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing Sidmouth run again. It requires a lot of hard work, much of it highly skilled, to restore a 70 year old steam loco to working order, but it’s all worthwhile when you see one running. I get a lot of satisfaction gradually assembling a giant from a bygone age,” he said.

The restoration will cost around £500,000. It’s hoped to complete it by 2021.

For more details visit or email Nick Thompson at

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