Life & Times – No.98, Motor Rail 21520

Unlike many of the fleet, we have unusually good photo coverage of this loco in industry, with images taken at four previous locations. It was ordered in 1955 by the Great Wakering Brick Co Ltd on 6 June 1955 and was dispatched on the 1st of November of the same year (try doing that in the 21st century with a new locomotive!). It initially worked at the Millhead Brickworks (near Shoeburyness, Essex) until that works closed in 1962; 1963 saw the loco was sold to the Milton Hall Brick Co, who used it at their Star Lane Brickworks –close to the village of Great Wakering. 1966 saw the loco moved to Cherry Orchard Lane Brickworks, near to Rochford, to the north of Southend. By July 1975, the original Dorman 2DWD engine had been replaced by a Dorman 2LD unit and by 1983 it had been completely rebuilt by Alan Keef Ltd with new sloping bodywork and a Deutz FL3 912 air cooled engine (engine type no.3!). It was then sent back to the railway at Star Lane, where the first few photos show it working in company with the then almost brand-new SMH40SD530, one of the last “Motor Rail” locos to be built. By 1992, it had returned to Cherry Orchard Lane works, where we see it clearly undergoing some sort of repair. 1998 saw the loco purchased by Alan Keef Ltd, overhauled with new orange “Keef “ bodywork and yet another replacement engine (no.4) and a complete change of industry; the loco swapped the muddy clay pits of Essex for the windswept (but still muddy) peat moors of the Scottish borderlands. In 2011, we see the loco working for William Sinclair Horticulture Ltd at the Auchencorth works, near Penicuik. In 2015, the loco moved to Sinclair’s main workshops at Springfield, Leadburn, where the loco was stripped. This was probably its lowest ebb!

It arrived at Apedale in 2017 in a sorry state, with a badly damaged gearbox, no engine and very poorly wheelsets.  A very challenging restoration project then commenced; the wheels in particular needed a great deal of work, the gearbox was rebuilt and a replacement engine (no.5, at least) had to be sourced and installed. A comprehensive electrical system had to be installed, including the all-important rotating flashing light and phone charger socket. The loco made its first movement under its own power at Apedale on Christmas Eve 2019. Its current condition it a testament to the determination of all those who worked to rebuild this loco. Hopefully the engine count will not change again.