Full steam ahead for Sidmouth as restoration project gets under way

Ron Bennett has primed a piece of sheet steel and is giving it a rub down. It will be used for part

Ron Bennett has primed a piece of sheet steel and is giving it a rub down. It will be used for part of the cladding of 257 Squadron. - Credit: Archant

An ambitious £300,000 project to restore a steam locomotive named Sidmouth is now under way - thanks to help from generous donors within the community.

Restoration work is now underway on 34010 Sidmouth Locomotive

Restoration work is now underway on 34010 Sidmouth Locomotive - Credit: Archant

Built in 1946, the town’s namesake was one of a fleet of express steam locomotives used to haul trains from Waterloo to Devon and featured in the Herald on June, 27, 1947, when it was officially ‘christened’.

After an 18-year stint in the scrapyard, escaping the cutter’s torch, several changes in ownership and being overlooked for restoration once, work is finally on track to restore Sidmouth to its former glory.

Nick Thompson, of Regency Gate, is one of the driving forces behind the project and this week announced the launch of a ‘sponsor a part’ appeal to help fund the completion of the work.

He is a director and volunteer for Southern Locomotives Ltd – a specialist, not-for-profit company that bought Sidmouth in 1982, but was forced to stall restoration plans until October 2015, when a decision was made that it was ‘now or never’.


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Nick told the Herald: “The project will take several years and the cost will run well into six figures. Since we announced the project, our 700 shareholders and supporters have already made a good contribution and we’re delighted to have received support from around a dozen people in Sidmouth.”

He explained the ‘sponsor a part’ appeal offers an opportunity for people who would like to support the project to invest in one or more parts needed for the locomotive.

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Options include purchasing one of the 112 boiler tubes for £65 each, all the bricks for the firebox for £250, or donating £1,200 to buy a new safety valve.

When the locomotive is complete, all sponsors will be invited to Sidmouth’s naming ceremony and have the chance to travel on its first journey. Anyone who contributes £250 or more will be given a fine art print of the engine.

In the meantime, it is full steam ahead in the workshop, where parts are being taken off the shelves, repaired or remade, and gathered for assembly.

To promote the project, Nick has teamed up with local filmmaker Nick Dodson and made a 12-minute video explaining the bid.

View the video at www.sidmouthherald.co.uk. More details can be found at www.southern-locomotives.co.uk. Contact Nick on 01395 519335 or email nicksidmouth@gmail.com

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