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.