The Loco which built the railway

If there was ever a locomotive which earned the accolade of “The Loco which built the railway”, it would be fleet no.29 “Vanguard”. This loco was despatched from Ruston’s Boulton works in Lincoln on 12 April 1939 to connect with a ship to take it from Leith (Edinburgh) to Hoy Island in the Orkneys, where is worked on a contract. The loco was later with the Department of Agricultural Science’s De-Watered Peat Experimental Station, Gardrum Moss near Falkirk, before moving yet again to the Lancashire Moss Litter Co Ltd, Nook Lane, Astley. At some stage in its industrial career, it was decided to modify the loco from 24 inch to 30 inch gauge. This requires a wider chassis to accommodate the wheels. This was achieved by cutting the frame in half longitudinally, adding six inches of steel at either end and welding it all back together. After all this work, the loco stayed at 24 inches gauge after all. The loco joined the MRT collection in 1989. In the early days of the MRT at Apedale, the loco worked most of the construction trains. Sadly, the years of heavy use took their toll, and no.29 was stored out of use due to concerns about increasing engine smokiness. However, no.29 has now been brought round into the workshop, and the engine issue was no more than needing a set of piston rings. With a little cosmetic work, hopefully no.29 will be back earning its keep before long. The loco was a “Vanguard” in several ways – not least, the first UK loco to carry a “web address” from the days when the internet was a new and novel thing. I wonder how that worked out?