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.