1903 Fowler A4 traction engine

Posted by Chris Graham on 5th May 2021

Simon Nuttall provides an update on the new home he’s created for his superb, ex-Australian, 1903 Fowler A4 traction engine.

1903 Fowler A4 traction engine

1903 Fowler A4 traction engine: The newly-converted engine shed in Cirencester that now houses Simon Nuttall’s Fowler, certainly looks the business! (Pic: Southern Road Steam)

Simon Nuttall’s Fowler A4 (No. 9691) compound engine moved to its new premises last summer, and is settling in well, by all accounts. After Simon had negotiated the purchase last spring, Simon and Melanie Fisher and Roger Luck – the previous owners – had hoped to do a few final rallies with the engine, but Covid put a stop to that. However, the new owner has promised them an annual ‘steam fix’ with the engine in the future!

Simon and Alex Nuttall with their new charge; they’re looking forward to having it out again just as soon as they can. (Pic: Melanie Fisher)

Simon told us: “I’ve spent my adult life in and around steam, firstly on steam narrowboat President, and then as fireman on the Talyllyn Railway. However, it was seeing miniatures around the rally field that whetted my appetite for road steam, and a cost-effective, easy way in was through a Steam Traction World Kit.”

“I suspect that, like many miniature owners, I aspired to a full-size engine and, indeed, took myself on the excellent NTET driving course for three years – where, as an aside, I met Melanie Fisher and remember sitting with her at lunch discussing the engine. Little did I know then that I’d be the owner some five or six years later!

1903 Fowler A4 traction engine

Looking good; it could even be Melbourne, Australia, on a cloudy day! (Pic: Southern Road Steam)

“All of a sudden in 2018, the pieces of the jigsaw started falling into place. First of all I got the finances sorted, then managed to find somewhere to keep the engine. I was given access to two, rather tumbledown buildings in the grounds of my office, in the centre of Cirencester; one is an old coach house, and the other a stable/tack room.

“My first job was to set about getting the coach house converted into an engine shed; my architect decided that a traditional, stone arch was the way to go. This was built using modern techniques, but to a traditionally-styled design. The result speaks for itself; it’s a lovely, traditional engine shed in the centre of the town, together with a refurbished stable to use as a mess room. So, I’m delighted to report that Cirencester has a steam whistle echoing off its buildings once again.

Out in the sandstone streets of Cirencester goes the superb, ex-Australian 1903 Fowler A4 No. 9691, now with Simon Nuttall. (Pic: Southern Road Steam)

”I very much intend to keep the engine as it is, with the modest addition of quad tracks fitted by Berrybrook Steam & Classics, plus a replica LNER chime whistle (A4, of course!) to replace the sometimes shrill Fowler-style item. I’ll be out and about Cirencester, and ‘roading’ the engine locally so, if you see me and the old girl out and about, do give us a wave or come and say ‘Hello!’”

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