The overhaul of 34007 Wadebridge is now underway. The unrebuilt West Country class locomotive is based on the Watercress Line in Hampshire and has been out of service since the expiry of its boiler certificate in 2016. The work is being divided between the Watercress Line’s own engineering works at Ropley and Riley & Son Locomotive Engineers Ltd. in Heywood. The former has partially dismantled the locomotive, and the chassis and boiler was transported by road to Heywood on 9 August. The focus there will be on repairing and re-tubing the boiler, overhauling the frames, motion, brakes, springs and cylinders, and turning the wheels. Perhaps the most challenging task will be the repair or replacement of the inside cylinder. In parallel, Ropley will refurbish items such as boiler fittings, cab fittings, copper pipe work and cladding, and complete the tender. On the return of the chassis and boiler from Riley's, Ropley will carry out the re-assembly and testing, paint the locomotive and tender, and return them to service.
The whole project will be designed and implemented in ways that keep open the option of operating Wadebridge on the main line as well on the Watercress Line. The aim is have Wadebridge back in action in 2026.
34007 is owned by Wadebridge (34007) Locomotive Ltd., in which the Watercress Line Heritage Railway Trust holds a majority share. Wadebridge Ltd. chair, Stephen Evans, has said that he ‘is absolutely delighted that Wadebridge is being given a fast-track overhaul. This has been made possible by the locomotive’s extraordinarily generous Swiss benefactor, Alex Choremi. Thanks to him and to the teams at Ropley and at Riley’s, there is every chance of Wadebridge returning to the front rank of UK operational steam locomotives within four years.
The overhaul of 34007 Wadebridge is going ahead. That decision was made in December 2021 by the locomotive's owners, Wadebridge (34007) Locomotive Limited (in which the Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society holds the majority shareholding). The unrebuilt West Country class Pacific has been partially dismantled and inspected at Ropley Works on the Watercress Line, and a schedule of work has been prepared. Fortunately there are no 'showstoppers', although the middle cylinder will need to be removed from the frames and repaired. Thanks to the generosity of Wadebridge's Swiss patron and benefactor, Alexander Choremi, there are sufficient funds not only to get the overhaul underway but to set the ambition of a return to main line running. From the outset, the work will be planned and conducted with this in view, under external engineering scrutiny and with the necessary documentation being assembled.
Wadebridge will have a sales and information stand at the Watercress Line's Open Weekend which will take place on the 11th and 12th September 2021. The sales stand will have various Wadebridge items for sale, including the 'locos in profile' print of Wadebridge
Wadebridge shareholders are entitled to free travel over this weekend.
For details about this event please visit the Watercress Line.
The Watercress Line is delighted to announce that work will shortly start on preparing unrebuilt West Country Class 34007 Wadebridge for overhaul by undertaking a full engineering assessment that will see the locomotive partially dismantled over this coming winter. This has been made possible by the extraordinary generosity of Mr Alexander Choremi, whose very large donation has enabled us to get the project under way. Mr Choremi, who lives in Switzerland, is a long-standing supporter of UK steam locomotive preservation and has accepted the honorary position of Patron of 34007 Wadebridge.
The detailed inspection of the locomotive, including non-destructive testing of the boiler will be carried out at Ropley Works, on the Watercress Line, and will enable the actual overhaul to be planned and costed. This work will be conducted alongside the existing heavy overhauls of 35005 Canadian Pacific and 34105 Swanage. The generosity of Mr Choremi will ensure that work on 34007 does not interfere with these other overhauls.
Our vision for Wadebridge is ambitious. If the outcome of the inspection is favourable, we will return to the main line for the first time since withdrawal in 1965.
Wadebridge entered service with the Southern Railway in 1945, and is the oldest surviving member of a class of locomotives that totalled 110 in number. As built, Wadebridge was painted in the Southern Railway’s Malachite Green and numbered 21C107.
At this point it is impossible to estimate for certain how long the overhaul will take and it will partly depend on the rate at which further funds can be raised. A full appeal will be launched as soon as the engineering assessment is completed in spring 2021, with the hope that we can enjoy the stirring sight of an unrebuilt Bulleid romping out of Waterloo or Victoria in 2025. In the meantime donations to assist with the project will be welcomed and can be made through the Wadebridge Just Giving page.
We know how exciting this news will be to the very many 'Spam Can' enthusiasts across this country and beyond.
Wadebridge's 10 year Boiler Ticker expired in 2016. She was taken out of service and joined the queue to enter the Mid-Hants Railway Ropley Works. It is likely to be a number of years before the boiler can enter the railways boilershop. If you would like to help fast track the return of our engine, please follow this link to the Wadebridge 34007 Money Giving Page