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46447 Returns at Cranmore

46447 at Wigan

46447 at Wigan in BR days

Just returned from the launch of Ivatt Class 2 No 46447 at the East Somerset Railway – what a fabulous job Steve Masters and his team have made of it!

Steve is too modest to blow his own trumpet but the achievement of transforming 46447 from Barry wreck to steaming in stunning lined out late BR black in just 90 weeks is little short of astonishing.  Awesome is a much over used word but it is utterly appropriate here.

It just shows what you can do when you get a friendly, determined team who work well, you have the parts to hand and a well worked out, funded plan.  A bit of imaginative cooperation and reciprocity between the ESR and the Isle of Wight Steam railway helps as well.  OK, so it is a bit easier if you don’t have to do too much to the boiler and firebox apart from re-tube it, but it is a thoroughly marvellous achievement and a good turnout of cameras wielding folk, short talks and a bottle of bubbly smashed (at the 3rd attempt!) across the buffer beam  ensured that the event was marked in a suitably appreciative way.

It always seems to me that the ESR is a bit neglected by the enthusiast community. Volunteers there clearly work very hard but they seem a bit thin on the ground and it is sad that the signal box is still disconnected to a rather lovely array of semaphores.   They have a proper BR connection via the Yeoman quarry line and it is just a pity that the line stops tantalisingly short of Shepton Mallet.  A new bridge, a generous farmer and a bit of a deviation round some houses and the town could be reconnected to the national network….

Hopefully the Ivatt is the engine to get things moving.  It certainly make s a very satisfactory bark coming up the bank from Mendip Vale and it is well worth a day trip to see it at work.

Congratulations to everyone involved.

P.S.  The cooperation with the Isle of Wight doesn’t stop here: Ivatt tank No 41313 will soon be on its way over the mainland to fill the spot in the workshop just vacated by 46447.  We will be following its probably equally rapid progress back to steam with anticipation.

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