Rolling stock restoration
Full details will follow shortly, but in brief this vertical boilered locomotive was built for the Jaywick Sands miniature railway (Essex) to resemble a Sentinel product. The railway closed with the outbreak of war in 1939, never to re-open. In 1947 it was sold for use in New Brighton (Merseyside), along with some coaches. The Jaywick was later rebuilt with a dummy boiler and chimney to resemble a conventional locomotive, and the New Brighton line continued to operate until 1965, although it is believed the Jaywick was out of use by 1959.
At the present the locomotive merely exists as a “kit of parts”, but the potential for restoration does exist.
Spondon is a battery-electric vehicle built in 1926 by engineers of The Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Electric Power Company for use in their Spondon Power Station. Spondon’s main task, being a 2′ gauge loco, was to remove the ash from within the power station complex via the internal rail network. Spondon Power Station was also employed to supply low pressure steam and power to the adjacent Celenese Acetate plant. So successful was this ‘bi-product’ of steam that not only did it become one of the most profitable power stations in the network but it actually warmed the near-by waters of the river Derwent thereby allowing the local rascals to swim in it!!
When the Power Station closed in 1972, Spondon’s fate is somewhat nebulous but we do know she spent some time at Gloddfa Ganol Narrow Gauge Museum in North Wales. Sadly, this museum was short lived and in the late 1980’s when Narrow Gauge Railway preservation was enjoying a renaissance, she was repatriated to Derbyshire. During the early part of this century, Spondon underwent a cosmetic restoration and was re-gauged from 2′ to 18″, a considerable re-profiling of her body work undertaken, the 2 main electric motors were re-wound and much enhancement was made to her manual braking system.
But the loco remained un-useable.
In 2012, the ALRS acquired her and she was transferred to our engineering premises in Sheffield with a view to eventually running Spondon on a 2′ gauge railway……..
As we speak, her restoration is almost 50% complete. Viz – after a complete strip down, the chassis was inverted so the wheels/axles could be removed and sent away for re-gauging back to 2′. At the same time we decided to have a modern braking system. This was designed in-house and fitted at our Sheffield premises. Now fully air-braked, the chassis was righted and the body fastened to it.
With the electric motors in-situ and the wheels aligned with our rail system, Spondon can be pushed up and down the rails in our workshop.
We are now at the ‘expensive’ bit, and we’d very much like her to run under her own ‘steam’.
We need to have bespoke batteries built at vast expense because of the configuration of the motors and in order to control the power output, we need to build a state of the art control and protection system to allow her to move freely but safely. The batteries themselves are more than £5,000. The control system has yet to be established. Lights need to be fitted. All this has to be acceptable to the Light Railway governing body otherwise Spondon will not be allowed to operate in Public. We also need to ensure driver comfort for safe operation which means well positioned controls and brakes and suitable seats. All this is yet to be purchased.
We need your help please in restoring Spondon for future generations to enjoy and swap stories of her history and fill some of the gaps. We would also appreciate you passing on this information to anyone you think may enjoy being part of this exciting project.
Should anyone reading this have any information or pictures of Spondon, we would very much like to hear from you. Contact details can be found our website
I hope you enjoy the picture gallery which outlines what is known of its history and more recently, follows the progress of the restoration of an electric locomotive that once worked in Spondon Power Station.
Graham Ludlam (Trustee – The Ashover Light Railway Society)
The Society is now launching an appeal for funds to allow work to progress on ‘Spondon’, It has already been partially restored, it was re-gauged at some point after it left the power station but has now been set back to its original 24″ gauge. In addition the motor control system will have to be largely rebuilt from scratch, and new batteries have to be acquired. Current best estimates suggest that a total sum in the region of £10,000 will be needed to complete the project. Subject to funding availability it is believed that the locomotive could be completed within six months, after which the Society intends to arrange for it to run on the track The Society has access to at Peak Rail’s Rowsley site. Donors to the appeal would thus be able see the machine working at a preview day, could ride behind it, and possibly have an opportunity to learn to drive it.
If you would like to contribute to this appeal please complete the donation form and return it to:-
Mr T L Gosling
The Ashover Light Railway Society
14 Fern Lea
Derbyshire DE55 6EP
The Ruston locomotive is shown (above) before work started, and below during restoration.
And here is the mighty midget in full operating order and running on track at Rowsley for the first time in April 2015.