Life & Times – No.61, Motor Rail 1320

With Lockdown3 now in full swing, there isn’t much to report from the Apedale site. So, to entertain both regular readers, we thought we would produce a few features looking at the life and times of some of our exhibits. The first one is fleet no.61, Motor Rail 1320 of 1918. This loco was built as a “protected” 40HP Simplex, with a Dorman 4-cylinder petrol engine. It was ex-works from Motor Rail in Bedford on 10 September 1918, and was allocated number LR3041 by the War Department Light Railways. Whether it ever left the UK is open to conjecture. After the end of the First World War, it was sold as surplus to Inns & Co., Moor Hill Pits, Colney Street. This location is close to what is now the M25 and the London Colney shopping centre. when at Inns & Co, it was heavily rebuilt with the current diesel engine. At or around this time, the bodywork was changed to give the loco its current appearance (politely described as a “block of flats on wheels”). It was later stored at Redland-Inns Waterford depot, Hertfordshire. The first photo, courtesy of Peter Excell, shows the loco at Inns & Co in the 1960s. The loco was initially preserved at the Brockham Museum in 1978 and then moved to the Amberley museum (2nd photo). In late 1989 or early 1990, the loco went north to Ian Jolly’s private railway near Mold. The loco moved to the Cadeby Light Railway on 5 March 1994 (3rd & 4th photo) and then to Apedale on 29 April 2006. Although some work was done to the loco at Cadeby, the condition of the engine prompted the decision to carry out a full overhaul in 2017 and 2018. The four cylinders had differing views on the concept of combustion; two were quite keen, one would participate if asked nicely, and one was having none of it. The bodywork was retained in its later configuration, as this was appropriate if the loco retained its diesel engine. New wheelsets were fitted, as the previous ones had extremely sharp flanges, which posed a considerable derailment risk. An engine overhaul and the installation of electric start completed the restoration, which transformed the performance of this loco. Limited visibility through the “slots” in the bodywork make it a challenge to drive, especially for drivers of limited stature. The remaining photos show the loco under restoration, and in subsequent operation. We were delighted when one of the original plates, warning of dire consequences to unauthorised passengers, was presented to us in 2018 by Amberley Museum. The final photo shows Amberley’s Peter Smith (left) handing the plate to Alan Fryer, MRT Trustee.