New lease of life for historic Isle loco

ALL ABOARD FOR OVERHAUL: Former Isle of Axholme Light Railway loco 957 awaits passengers in this picture, but goes for an overhaul later this month.
ALL ABOARD FOR OVERHAUL: Former Isle of Axholme Light Railway loco 957 awaits passengers in this picture, but goes for an overhaul later this month.

A STEAM engine that used to work in the Isle of Axholme is to get a new lease of life starting later this month.

That’s when the 125-year-old Manchester-built engine will be taken out of service for a major overhaul that could last for at least two years.

In its heyday the engine, numbered 957, worked on the Isle of Axholme Light Railway, serving Crowle, Haxey, Epworth, Fockerby and running north to Goole, carrying passengers and freight including peat and peas, but had its moment of glory as The Green Dragon in the 1970 film The Railway Children.

It was also used to run special trains for excursions, and brought visitors to Epworth’s Old Rectory.

It’s currently part of the fleet of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, where volunteers and full-time engineers will do the lion’s share of the work on it, said railway spokesman Jim Shipley.

He added that the total cost of the work wasn’t yet known.

“It depends on what we uncover as the work progresses,” he said.

The Axholme Light Railway owned no locomotives. It was jointly owned by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and the North Eastern Railway, with the former owning 957.

The railway had almost 28 miles of track, most of which was closed in 1956, but a section remained open until 1972 at the request of the CEGB, which needed it for getting supplies to Keadby Power Station.

Mr Shipley said the loco was one of the first to be ‘rescued’, having moved into private hands in 1959. He added that the loco was small and relatively low-powered, but had been ideally suited to duties in the Isle.

Volunteers at the KWVR come from all walks of life, and had included BBC presenters and a former deputy chief constable.

The last chance to see 957 in steam before the overhaul begins will be Monday, January 20.