Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Historic Steam Loco travels from Africa to Apedale

The Moseley Railway Trust (MRT) announces a major steam locomotive import project. After some years of careful negotiation, the MRT reached agreement with AngloGold Ashanti of Ghana to repatriate a unique Hudswell Clarke "Class G" steam locomotive. No other locomotives of this type exist in the UK. The locomotive arrived at the MRT’s Apedale site on 14 May 2008. It will be on display to the public at the MRT’s Open Days on 13/14 September 2008.

The locomotive was built by Hudswell Clarke at the Railway Foundry works in Leeds during 1916. It is to 2’0" gauge, weighs approximately 6 tons, and is an 060 well tank. This design was, at the time, being built in large numbers for the War Department Light Railways, which played a key part in providing the logistical support to the Allied armies during the First World War. Two additional locomotives, numbers 1238 and 1239 were despatched in September 1916 to the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation at their mining complex in the town of Obuasi, Ghana.

The locomotive worked until 1952, when it is said to have derailed in a storm, falling into a river and killing its driver. In 1995, it was recovered and placed on display outside a small museum at the Obuasi mine complex. It is believed that the preserved locomotive is Hudswell Clarke number 1238.

In more recent years, the museum at the mine closed and AngloGold Ashanti agreed to release the locomotive for repatriation to the UK. A key factor in AngloGold Ashanti releasing the locomotive to the care of the MRT was a recognition that the MRT is an organisation dedicated to celebrating Industrial Narrow Gauge railways and therefore was ideally qualified to preserve and interpret the unique locomotive.

A small team of MRT volunteers made the journey to the AngloGold Ashanti mine, and formally accepted the locomotive from Mr Kwesi Enyan, acting Managing Director of the Obuasi mine. The MRT team presented Mr Enyan with gifts from the children at Churchfields Primary School, located near Apedale, for the children who attend the mine’s schools in Obuasi.

The locomotive will be housed at the MRT’s Apedale site, near Newcastle-under-Lyme in North Staffordshire. It will be assessed for eventual restoration to full operational condition.

Phil Robinson, the MRT Chairman said "The locomotive is a significant addition to our already large and varied locomotive fleet, and, when restored, will be a valuable locomotive for use on our steeply graded passenger railway into the Apedale Country Park. This important project illustrates the credibility that the MRT has established throughout the UK railway preservation movement and, it seems, the world."

The MRT wishes to acknowledge the assistance of AngloGold Ashanti of Ghana, and Porterbrook Leasing Company in the UK, who sponsored the repatriation of the locomotive.

The MRT can be contacted at 11, Ashwood Road, Disley, Stockport, Cheshire SK12 2EL or contact us here.