1914 Orenstein & Koppel steam loco

Posted by Chris Graham on 23rd May 2021

We report on the long-awaited restoration of a much-travelled, 1914 Orenstein & Koppel steam locomotive, that’s now in operational condition.

Orenstein & Koppel steam loco

Here are two views of the 1914 Orenstein & Koppel steam loco No. 7529 undergoing successful trials at the Golden Valley Railway, in Derbyshire.

This 1914 Orenstein & Koppel steam loco, No. 7529 had a hard life working in a sand quarry in France for over 50 years, before beginning its patient, 50-year wait for restoration in the UK. Thankfully, the work’s now complete and the engine is back in operational condition at the Golden Valley Light Railway at Ripley, in Derbyshire. It’s expected to be put to work hauling passenger trains on advertised dates, once the Covid restrictions have been lifted.

The engine, which is an 0-4-0 Well tank locomotive, underwent a very heavy overhaul that took more than 20 years to complete. It’s privately owned by Golden Valley Light Railway (GVLR) members Eddie and Pat Draper, and it arrived at Swanwick on 28th January, 1995.

The GVLR is a 2ft gauge line based at the Swanwick Junction complex of the Midland Railway, in Derbyshire, and this German-built loco was originally sold to ‘Bellefille Levau’ of Saint-Pierre-les-Nemours, which was developing a sand quarry at Sable et Gres de Nemours.

The engine left Germany in the nick of time before the outbreak of the First World War and, due to its destination in France being south of Paris, it was never over-run by the German Army, so it just kept hauling sand.

It continued working at the same site until the mid-1960s, at which point it was purchased by a narrow-gauge railway enthusiast based at Ripley, Surrey, and was brought to England in 1967. The loco eventually moved to Teddy Boston’s Cadeby Light Railway, in Leicestershire, where it stayed until 1995.

The engine weighs a little under seven tonnes, and is rated at 50hp. One unusual feature is its steam-operated bell. This would have normally been fitted to locos that were required to operate on a roadside railway line. The line at Nemours did have some roadside running, but none of the other locos there were fitted with a bell. So, why one had a bell and the others didn’t has been a matter of some conjecture, with no satisfactory answer so far!

The Golden Valley Light Railway operates passenger services on days when the visitor attraction at the Midland Railway, in Butterley, is open to the public.

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