Life and Times – No.47, Motor Rail 1369

A little while ago, a L&T feature looked at Motor Rail 1320, the “Block of Flats” as it unaffectionately referred to. This time, we will look at its cousin, Motor Rail 1369. Both are 40HP Simplex locos, built for the War Department Light Railways (WDLR) during the First World War. Unlike MR1320, MR1369 is largely unaltered from its military configuration, and retains its Dorman four-cylinder petrol engine. Ordered on 31st December 1917 by the War Department, it never saw active service, going straight into store at Purfleet Wharf, Essex, along with 31 sister locos. It was advertised for sale in June 1919. By 1921, it had been sold to Leeds Corporation’s Knostrop Sewage Works, as seen in the first photo (unsure who owns the copyright to that photo – if it’s you, then sorry!). Sixty years at this glamorous spot ended on 13 April 1981 when it was preserved by the Leeds Industrial Museum at their Armley Mills museum. 

Never a good “fit” at Armley Mills, since it wasn’t a Leeds-built loco, a deal was done which saw the loco loaned to MRT, then based at the Cheadle school. The third photo shows the loco arriving in 1995. The loco remained in Knostrop condition – with the wooden window frames – and unrestored until TV came to the rescue.

In 2002, the restoration of this locomotive was the subject of an episode of the Channel 4 programme  “Salvage Squad”. This culminated in the restored loco visiting the Cappy-Froissy-Dompierre museum railway in northern France. The loco has since visited many different locations, including Beamish, Leighton Buzzard and the “Turtle Fest” at the Ffestiniog Railway, the latter being memorable for “Mary Ann” making a leap for the exit and the loan of a cherry picker to take photos. This locomotive has met more “celebrities” than most, having encountered Suggs, Michael Portillo and Chris Tarrant (to name but three) during various filming assignments.