Kerr Stuart 4415
|Kerr Stuart 4415|
|Built by||Kerr Stuart|
Kerr Stuart 4415 is an early diesel locomotive that was originally tested on the Festiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. After being used on a number of other railways around the world it has now returned to the F&WHR for restoration.
This 6wDM locomotive is a pioneer of British internal combustion locomotive history. One of the very first British diesel locomotives, it was built by Kerr Stuart in Stoke-on-Trent in 1928 (builder's number 4415). Used as a demonstration locomotive by its maker, it came to the Welsh Highland Railway for trials in the summer of 1928. It proved most successful for work on the Bryngwyn branch and some media coverage resulted. It was then fitted with a vacuum brake by its makers and used on the WHR winter passenger service. Its successful use in this duty led to inspection by an LNER representative.
The Colonel Stephens Railway Museum web site shows it as it ran on the WHR.
In March 1929, Colonel Stephens had the locomotive transferred to the more profitable work of moving slates at the bottom end of the FR. He could not afford to purchase it even though clearly impressed by its performance, and inevitably it returned to Stoke in August 1929.
Use around the world
After leaving Wales, the loco worked in various locations (including a spell in Ireland, converted to 3-foot gauge), and by 1934 was as far away as Mauritius, where it hauled sugar cane at the Union Vale Sugar Factory until 1971, being plinthed subsequently. On 10 October 1997 the loco returned to the railway, through the initiative of the Greenwich and District Narrow Gauge Society, having been generously donated by its former owners in Mauritius; Olivier Jaubert handled the negotiations. The FR Trust met the costs of repatriation, and KS4415 returned to the FR. It has been in store at Minffordd ever since. The diesel engine (not the original) requires replacement, and a suitable unit has been acquired. The bodywork requires renewal and parts of the chassis also require work, the major items being new drive sprockets and roller chains.
An appeal for its restoration was re-launched in 2005, in the hope of having it in at least presentable static condition for the 80th anniversary of its first spell on the WHR and FR in 2008-9. Unfortunately this was not to be.
Since April 2008, KS4415 has been jointly owned by the Greenwich & District Narrow Gauge Railway Society and FR Heritage, the move from FR Co. to FR Heritage was made to help facilitate in obtaining funds from sources such as PRISM and the National Lottery Fund once sufficient funds have been raised from donations first.
Starting in September 2014 the locomotive is being restored to operation by a dedicated volunteer team at Boston Lodge. They now (September 2017) have completed the rolling chassis and are turning their attention to the engine and gear box. The replacement engine previously acquired was found not to be suitable, however another engine - of the same type as the original of 1928 - was found at Armley Mills Museum in Leeds. Following negotiations it was agreed that the museum would loan the engine for use in KS4415 and it is now undergoing restoration.
KS4415 at Minffordd, carrying running number 8. To the right is The Flying Bench, 2000
- Pioneer "Modern Power" on the Festiniog, Ffestiniog Railway Magazine, Issue 026, page(s): 017
- http://ks4415.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/engines-update_2.html - Restoration blog post