Bodmin ‘Austerity’ returns to steam

Bodmin & Wenford Railway-based ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST No. 2766 could run for the first time in preservation this summer - if the locomotive passes its steam test.

Missing its dome cover, ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST No. 2766 steams for the first time in preservation in the yard at the Bodmin & Wenford Railway on April 21. PHIL HAWKE

Missing its dome cover, ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0ST No. 2766 steams for the first time in preservation in the yard at the Bodmin & Wenford Railway on April 21. PHIL HAWKE

The Bagnall-built engine steamed for the first time since 1976 on April 21 at the railway’s headquarters at Bodmin General, running up and down the yard in anticipation of its steam test which is scheduled for early next month. If this is successful, after a running-in period, No. 2766 will enter traffic on the B&WR for the summer season.

Phil Hawke, leader of the Cornish Steam Locomotive Preservation Society team that restored the ‘Austerity’, and chairman of the B&WR Plc, said: “It's been a long haul, but well worth it. We now look forward to ten years of No. 2766 earning its keep not just at the B&WR but also going out on hire to other preserved railways."

Built in 1944 for the War Department, the 0-6-0ST was dispatched to Northern France on February 2 1945. It spent two years in storage on the Continent before returning to Britain where it was sold into service with the National Coal Board.

Working in and around the South Wales collieries, it was withdrawn in 1976, and preserved at the South Devon Railway but never ran there. No. 2766 was bought by the CSLPS in May 1995, who moved the ‘Austerity’ to Bodmin where its restoration was completed.