BRC Website Home
Quainton Virtual Stockbook
Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 61 - Autumn / Winter 1986 / 87
BR(WR) 94XX Class 0-6-0PT No. 9466
9466 Goes on Holiday
Trevor Page - 9466 in Swanage shed with their 0-6-0ST (Hawthorn Leslie 3931/1938) on the turntable
By now members must be growing accustomed to seeing locomotives from Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at work on other railways. The latest outing was that of Dennis Howells' Hawksworth Pannier 9466, to Swanage, which took place during mid-summer. Arranged last Christmas (on the footplate of the Swanage Railway's RSH 0-6-0ST No. 21, hauling a Santa Special), the deal involved 9466 being available seven days a week for five weeks, save for two boiler washout periods of two days each.
On the journey down to the Isle of Purbeck by low-loader, the Pannier caused one or two headaches for the Dorset Police as it negotiated the very narrow main roads of the area, which are prone to long hold-ups during the holiday season. At Wareham the queue behind the trailer was becoming rather embarrassing, so it was decided to have 9466 pull over for a while. There were many red faces when this course of action produced even bigger jams, as the holiday makers stopped to inspect the cause of their delay! There was nothing for it but to have the engine move on down the only main road into Swanage. Access to the railway was gained via the seafront and was accomplished without incident, save for a road sign which became bent in the night.
9466 was too big to go in the stone built engine shed at Swanage and so had to be stabled outside, adjacent to the 50ft turntable, which had been obtained from Neasden LT, the original having been removed when the line was dieselised. Interestingly, the new table fitted the mountings and pit exactly, even down to the belt holes on the central pivot. Coaling at Swanage was accomplished by a small hand crane, which had once served in the goods shed.
9466 was crewed by Swanage men throughout, but Dennis or Graham Tyler were always on the loco to ensure everything ran smoothly, as none of the local crews had handled a GWR loco before. 6.00 am starts now became the order of the day and at least one Swanage landlady must now think that railwaymen are very strange folk, Dennis having booked bed only and no breakfast!
The normal train hauled by 9466 was a varied selection, consisting of a Maunsell open third, a Mk. I TSO , Mk. I Buffet Car and an ex-Brighton Belle Pullman motor coach. Particularly impressive was the comfortable Maunsell coach and the Buffet Car - this doubling as the station restaurant during the lunch period. 9466 ran with some very odd headcodes during its stay, mostly of Southern Railway origin, but with the Somerset and Dorset thrown in for good measure!
In addition to normal passenger service, the railway also operates a Wine & Dine service. Normally two runs of the line are made with the train moving very slowly. Before 9466's visit, the slow run record was held by the railway's RSH 0-6-0ST, which managed to make the one mile journey to Herston last 22 mins. However, the railway conceded defeat when Dennis took 17 mins. to go half way!
9466 also made several trips onto the new extension to Harman's Cross, due to open next year. In fact, it was the first steam loco to run up to the Ponderosa Crossing railhead. The occasion was the working of a 210 ton ballast train, which, even on a 1 in 76 gradient, required no more than part of the first valve to get it rolling.
The railway have to be very careful not to make too much smoke in the town, as some of the local hoteliers are, strangely, opposed to it. Any clouds of smoke drifting down the High Street are sure to herald the arrival of the Town Clerk investigating complaints.
Because of this problem, the railway use Welsh steam coal and a type from Oakdale Colliery was in use at the time of 9466's visit. The remains of some Quainton smokey special had to be pushed into a corner of the bunker for the duration of the stay. Economy of coal was another record which fell to the Pannier and the Swanage Railway were pleased to find it the most frugal engine they had run. However, they soon discovered that, while 9466 may not use a lot of coal, it has a voracious appetite for cleaning rag, 56lbs being used during the five week stay!
Talking of diet, it became practice for the loco crews to take lunch at the Swanage buffer stops, which are conveniently placed at the end of the High Street, creating much interest and publicity for the railway. It was here that many visiting QRS members, who were most welcome, caught their first glimpse of the engine.
Only one minor problem was experienced during 9466's stay, when it was discovered that the valve spindle packing used was of too soft a grade, something which had not shown up during the loco's comparatively light use at Quainton. This was soon replaced, however, from the stock of spares, which Dennis and Graham kept in lockers beneath the cab floor during their time away. Apart from this, the loco ran like clockwork, but Dennis had a rather traumatic experience earlier in the visit .. .
Every Quainton regular knows of Dennis's red tartan hat and, during one run, a stray gust of wind sent it sailing away as the train passed Victoria Road bridge. In spite of stopping to look, plus three organised searches of the line, no trace could be found. It looked like Dennis's familiar profile would be changed forever! Fortunately, however, as suddenly as it had disappeared, the errant headgear was found by a platelayer three days later. Bedraggled, but otherwise none the worse for its holiday, it was returned to the grateful owner.
Mentioning that the train was stopped to look for the hat, it should be said that this was the only time a train hauled by 9466 ran late. In fact, most ran early and Dennis soon earned the nickname of The Time Lord for his ability to be somewhere before he had arrived!
During the five week stay, 9466 covered some 512 miles and was responsible for a healthy increase in the railway's passenger figures. In fact, a new record for a normal day of 850 tickets was set. The loco also received an official visit by the Mayor of Swanage and three(!) by the Town Clerk.
On the final working back into the town, the Pannier was given a deafening 21 detonator salute as a farewell gesture. No doubt this rattled the windows of a few unfriendly hoteliers!
9466 has been invited back in 1988, when, of course, the run will be extended by a further mile and a half to Harman's Cross. During 1987 the Butterley-based Johnson 1F half cab will pay a repeat visit and also during 1987 a certain maroon 0-4-4T may be seen on another railway in the South of England - but just for now that's all we can say .......
Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
Page Updated: 20 November 2017