Sunday, 28 July 2013

Last Known Steaming

Anticipating an interesting day out, I visited the Langport steam rally on Sunday July 21st 2013. As well as four Sentinel steam waggons, there was a grand array of traction engines, tractors, old vehicles and sales stands plus lots more.

Quite unexpectedly, I spotted a book I'd not come across before called 'Steam Engines at Bressingham' by Alan Bloom which, after a little, gentle haggling, I bought.
ISBN 0 571 09462 7, 1970, Faber & Faber
In an article I posted mid 2011, I made reference to the fact that Sentinel 7109 had been transferred to Bressingham in 1968. Indeed, in the 1970 booklet 'The Bressingham Book - Gardens, Steam Railways and Engines', Sentinel 7109 is shown in the Bressingham museum interior (far left of picture in green).
7109 at Bressingham (SBN 8530 206 4)
So in 1970, it can be assumed that Sentinel 7109 was still at Bressingham.

What really caught my eye was one particular paragraph talking about the various Bressingham steam engines...

"This too was a Gas Works shunter, but of a very different type, for it was a Sentinel. Once again the good offices of J. B. Latham of the Industrial Locomotive Society had come into play. The South Eastern Gas Board were dispensing with steam at their Croydon works, and had presented it, together with a good supply of spares, for preservation. This very unconventional looking locomotive, with its vertical boiler almost filling the cab, had two enclosed engines and was chain driven. It had in fact more the outward appearance of a diesel than of a steamer, but because it was different from anything else I was glad to see it come to make the collection more comprehensive. Roger [Garnham] was something of an expert with Sentinels, having driven one often enough for a previous employer, and he was anxious to see it in steam. Steam was raised, but this preliminary test was not carried far. The steam brake failed to work and other minor faults consequent on its being discarded for some months would have to be put right before another attempt was made."

I don't believe another attempt was ever made so it seems that just prior to the 1970 publication date was the last time Sentinel 7109 had its fire lit.

I had previously not known of this and had assumed incorrectly that the last steaming date was around 1960 when it was taken out of service.

When we examined the steam brake cylinder 40 or so years later in 2011, it was in a really poor state. Even with the lapsed time, it's pretty obvious why it could not be made to work at Bressingham.


  1. I wonder what happened to all the spares the book mentioned...

  2. I visited Bressingham in June 2009 and asked about Joyce and her spares. Not surprisingly, after 40 or so years, there was no sign of them.


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