GWR 813 FUND – UPDATE JUNE 2022
There is both good and some rather bad news to report with this update.
The good news is that the Fund became a registered charity (C.I.O. Foundation Model) as from October 2021, a move intended to safeguard the future of the organisation and its assets. Of immediate benefit is that all future donations and member’s contributions now qualify for Gift Aid (adding 25 % to the amount donated provided that the donor pays sufficient tax in the current financial year to cover the amount contributed). Existing members and those previously issued with share certificates are now classified as Support Members of the Fund which is presently administered by eight trustees.
The bad news is that 813 suffered a serious mechanical failure whilst working a Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade local train during the recent SVR Spring Steam Gala and has now been sidelined for at least two to three months whilst repairs are assessed and carried out. The incident involved the fracture of the cast iron support to the large transverse spring located between the frames beneath the cab thereby causing the spring to rise up and protrude into the cab floor. Fortunately, the footplate crew suffered no injuries but the damage to the locomotive is considerable. The cab roof and bunker have now been lifted from the frames and the spring and pieces of the offending casting removed to await a decision as to the best way forward to rectify the damage. The choice would appear to be between making a new casting (in steel rather than cast iron) or to fabricate a replacement fitting. The latter would avoid the need to make a pattern for a casting but may be difficult to produce. The cause of the fracture has yet to be assessed but a contributory factor could well be the age of the casting which was probably as old as the locomotive itself. The final cost of the repair has yet to be determined but is likely to be substantial. Of equal concern is the loss of hire income. 813 was booked to visit the South Devon Railway for their recent 150th Anniversary Gala after which it was due to travel to the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway for the rest of the year. The potential loss of income could be in the region of £12,000 to £15,000 which would, of course, have made a significant contribution to the capital necessary to cover the next ten year boiler overhaul in four to five years time.
This current problem follows hard on the heels of an earlier setback in September last year when 813 had to be withdrawn from service during the SVR Autumn Steam Gala with a number of leaking boiler tubes. Following advice from the Bridgnorth boilersmith, it was decided to order a complete re-tube of the boiler which was undertaken by the SVR in November at a cost to the 813 Fund of £9,930. This was, of course, a quite unexpected setback as it was only five years since the boiler had been re-tubed during its last major overhaul.
Notwithstanding the problems of the past few months, 813 has proved to be a popular locomotive with its availability for hire being sought by a variety of heritage railways on a regular basis. Following completion of the last major overhaul in the Autumn of 2016, the loco has visited Didcot Railway Centre, East Lancs. Railway, Kent & East Sussex Railway, Bluebell Railway, Epping & Ongar Railway, the Battlefield Line, Elsecar Railway, Spa Valley Railway, Beamish Museum, East Anglian Railway Museum, Tanfield Railway, Mid Norfolk Railway and Telford Steam Railway as well as operating spells on the SVR (including working timetabled trains in the off peak season when train formations were reduced to four coaches). The downside is that the number of days in steam attracting hire revenue has been well down on the target number set in order to accumulate sufficient funds to cover the next ten year boiler overhaul in four to five years time. Especially bad was the effect of the Covid pandemic during which the number of days in steam in 2020 was just 8 out of the annual target for that year of 65.
ROLLING STOCK PROJECTS
Since the onset of the Covid pandemic there has been limited finance available for the Fund’s rolling stock projects. One additional vehicle has been acquired – GWR ‘Toad’ Goods Brake Van no. 114751 based on the West Somerset Railway, the purchase price of which is being covered by specific donations from individual donors. Work has, however, commenced on two long outstanding projects – the rebuilding of the unique ‘Coral A’ plate glass wagon 41723 that has been lying derelict for many years at Didcot, and the re-construction at Kidderminster of a GWR ‘B’ Type Container intended for eventual display on the Fund’s ‘Conflat’ wagon 39860 on the SVR. For the ‘Coral’, two new 12mm thick plate frames have recently been manufactured in Wolverhampton and will shortly be delivered to Didcot for reconstruction work to start. The latter will include the provision of new headstocks, drawbar springs, internal partitions and platework and will be undertaken by a small team of GWS members. One other recent development relates to the former Road MilkTank Trailer flat wagon 2501 which has been moved from storage at Honeybourne to Arley, SVR where it will act as a match wagon for hand crane 446. This move was effectively financed by the sale of the former match wagon, an ex B.R. ‘Conflat’ that has moved to the Nene Valley Railway. Other restoration projects are in the pipeline hopefully to be financed by specific donations or grants.
As stated above, the recent misfortunes involving 813 and the loss of hire income have had a detrimental affect on the financial resources of the 813 Fund. It is hoped that those wishing to support the Fund may be willing to make a donation to help. Existing Fund members and those wishing to make a donation only (i.e. without becoming members) should please complete the donation form to be found in the How To Help page in the 813 Fund web site. This can then be sent by post or e-mail as indicated on the form. Payment should preferably be made by cheque or bank transfer. If donors would also like to be recorded as new members of the Fund (donations of £25 or more entitle the donor to membership) the Membership Application form should be completed. Whatever form is used, Gift Aid provisions apply provided that the donor has paid sufficient tax in the current financial year to cover the amount contributed.
As regards the ongoing rolling stock projects, the renovation of the ‘Coral’, which commenced before the recent accident to 813, will proceed but is the subject of a separate appeal. Work on reconstructing the Container will continue subject to regular review of the financial situation.
MEMBERS OF THE FUND
There are a number of original members of the 813 Fund with whom contact has been lost over the years. If this includes you and you have not been in contact in recent months would you please advise the Fund Administrator (Pat Goss) by e-mail or letter so that the records can be updated.
Following an SVR Company policy change, the 813 Fund sales stand has moved from the station
concourse at Kidderminster to Bewdley. For the short term the stand is housed in the SVR Apprentices
coach in the car park bay platform but will be transferred to the adjacent Fund owned Riding Van no.55 in
mid August. Any donations of items for sale will be welcomed at the new location. The coach will
normally be open at weekends but, if potential visitors wish to check that it will be open on any particular
day, they are invited to contact Pat Goss on 01454 417749 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.