Lord Austin – an aristocrat amongst Locomotives

The Moseley Railway Trust’s extensive collection of narrow gauge locomotives includes many built by the company of Motor Rail, who were based in Bedford. Like many (all??) successful engineering businesses, Motor Rail understood the value of a robust and standardised product. Hence, their locos tend to have a strong family resemblance to each other. That said, they were not averse to building something a tad different from time to time. Once of these was the 12/20HP petrol engined locos, of which 28 were built as a design of lightweight petrol locos. Unlike the vast majority of Motor Rails, they did not use a Dorman engine. Instead, they were fitted with Austin side valve four cylinder petrol engines.

A star of the MRT collection is Motor Rail no. 6035, which is one of the four survivors of this type, and the only one to still be in working condition. Known as Lord Austin, from its engine, it was delivered new to the brickworks of Midhurst Whites in Sussex. It was specified to operate under a very low clearance, and it was also important (for reasons lost in history) that the driver faced in the opposite direction to usual. This latter, apparently simple, requirement, actually required some fairly serious engineering to achieve. The control layout on this loco is different to a standard Motor Rail, and this has been known to catch out the unwary experienced driver.


Lord Austin has spent a few days in the Aurora Works recently for a few minor repairs and adjustments. This week’s photos show it stretching its legs outside.


If you want to know more about Motor Rails, visit here.


You have one last chance this year to come to Apedale and see Lord Austin and all the other delights which lurk therein – our Remembrance Sunday event on 9/11/08. As ever, contact us here.