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10 1/4 inch gauge Dove Pacific - stock code 9982

A historic 10 1/4 inch gauge locomotive, built by Ernest Dove in 1949, originally as a 4-6-4. Dove had operated a railway at Skegness since 1946 and, along with his son, built locomotives which ran at both his own and other railways.

By 1950 the engine was running at Gwrych Castle in North Wales (currently the host of TV's "I'm a Celebrity") as "Silver Queen", with American outline - this may have been the form in which it was first built, with robustly proportioned motionwork and valve gear and "Boxpok" type wheels.

In 1953, by now with the addition of smoke deflectors, the engine had moved to Great Orme, Llandudno, carrying the name "Commodore Vanderbilt".

In 1951, a miniature railway opened at Skegness close to the site of Dove's 1946 line. Managed by Denham Till for Baydon Miniature Railways, the motive power was an Atlantic built by David Curwen. For the 1954 season the railway bought two locomotives from Dove - the petrol "Hiawatha" along with "Commodore Vanderbilt", the size of the latter requiring a new engine shed to be built.

The engine had a long career at Skegness, latterly changing ownership although remaining on the East Coast until 1970 when there was a proposal to move the railway to Thorney Wildlife Park which had recently opened near Peterborough. The railway was shortlived, the engine running there until the end of the 1971 season when it was moved to a line operated by John Rundle opposite his works in New Bolingbroke, near Boston. Some of the American details were removed at this time, whilst a permanent home for it was sought.

It was not until 1978 that a site was found at Ferry Meadows Country Park, where a 700 yards "there and back" line was laid by Autumn of that year, opening to the public in May 1979.

In 1981 the engine was converted from a 4-6-4 to 4-6-2 and rebuilt with a more conventional British outline - smoke deflectors, new cab, chimney and largely new boiler were fitted at this time.

By 1988, now in green livery, the engine had been renamed "Henry" after its namesake in the "Thomas the Tank Engine" stories (in the days when you could do that without threat of legal action from the owners of the franchise!). It ran in that form until 1997, when it was fitted with replacement cylinders and a new tender body.

Having carried many thousands of passengers over the years, in 2007 the railway changed hands, with "Henry" sold separately the following year. Advertised as in running order with boiler certificate at that time, it sold to a long-time customer of ours - we remember him calling into our works one afternoon to show us the engine on his way home with it.

Intending to lay a 10 1/4 inch gauge railway on his farm in Cumbria, he gathered together a good deal of rolling stock, track and equipment which were all stored in barns around the estate. A man of wide ranging interests - he ran a successful engineering business in Kendal, raced motorcycles in the Isle of Man and had one of the most comprehensively equipped home workshops we've seen - time eventually ran out for building the railway.

"Henry" never ran again after he bought it in 2008; we collected it still loaded on the trailer as it had arrived thirteen years earlier.

At seventy-one years old, the engine now requires restoration. To our eyes, a full rebuild to its 1950 semi-streamlined 4-6-4 condition would be wonderful, although perhaps a step too far for most owners!

Complete with a trailer which appears of similar vintage to the locomotive - fitted with new tyres for the two hundred mile trip home, it towed very well.

gauge 10 1/4 inch
length/inches 115 + 60
width/inches 24
height/inches 37
weight/kg est 1500
wheel material cast iron
axlebox type plain bearing
cylinder material cast iron
valve type slide
valve gear Walschaerts
reverser type pole
lubricator type mechanical
injector(s) 0
boiler type locomotive
boiler material steel
boiler construction welded, expanded tubes
superheater(s) 0
fusible plug yes
safety valve(s) 2
safety valve type spring
mechanical pump 1