Exciting debuts spotted at Yeovil’s Abbey Hill Rally

Posted by Chris Graham on 17th June 2024

Joseph Lewis reports on a couple of interesting, steam-related debuts that were spotted at Yeovil’s Abbey Hill Rally recently.

Abbey Hill Rally

Abbey Hill Rally: Looking the part is the Jenkins’ 1915 Fowler D2, which many people have never seen together before. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

It was great to see Rob and Michael Jenkins from Nailsea, near Bristol, with Katie, the newly-restored 1915 Fowler D2 compound No. 14342, AX 3512. This was the 10-ton roller’s second trip out since the completion of its six-year restoration. The engine was stripped in the late 1970s and placed on pallets for many years, lying at the East Somerset Railway, Cranmore, near Shepton Mallet, until the owner died, at which point it was put up for sale. The restoration has involved a new boiler barrel, front tubeplate, new firebox and the main bearings have been re-bored.

The firebox was made by Mendip Steam and mechanical parts, assembly and painting was by Sam Henwood from Fraddon, in Cornwall, and the project was finished at Christmas in 2023.

The engine has been back to the steam centre at Cranmore where everyone was so pleased to see it again at the place where it had lived silently for so many years. A canopy is available, but needs to be restored by the team.

Abbey Hill Rally

Showing the rear rolls which look like new. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

This is an intriguing Fowler that carries a differential lock and those wide section rear rolls. Let’s hope it stays as a steam roller and isn’t converted to a tractor as it looks perfect and correct and like it was when built 109 years ago. The roller went on to take the award for ‘Best Engine In Show’. 

The second debutant was the Wallis & Steevens compound steam wagon W4 5T No. 7720, brilliantly created by John Lambert of Bridport Foundry, in Dorchester. Apparently, John started with an Oilbath roller part assembly and set about creating a W4 5T Wallis & Steevens steam wagon which had been started in 2004 as a project with three owners at the time. 

Abbey Hill Rally

The early part of the rally was wet and not suitable for movement, but that improved as the weekend went on. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

The wagon carries a new boiler, new top works and that was just for starters, of course. The Pickfords blue livery was chosen to reflect a Wallis steam wagon in their fleet – they ran at least 11 at one time. They started with No. 2938 AA2158 from October 8th, 1906, and the last was No. 7279 from April 24th, 1912. John has called the wagon King William, to highlight William Pickford who, in 1930, was the founder of the famous haulage company, originally based south of Manchester. 

The footplate section of the wagon of the W & S wagon is not very wide. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

It was certainly a wonderful wagon to see and complements the only other example to exist, No. 7279, based at the Milestones Museum, which was saved by Tom Redburn and last month’s OG correspondent, 93-year-old John Charles Butler. Congratulations on your achievement John.

Congratulations to everyone involved – it’s a winner out of the box. (Pic: Joseph Lewis)

This feature comes from the latest issue of Old Glory, and you can get a money-saving subscription simply by clicking HERE


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