Well-known Fowler 8nhp showman’s road locomotive No 15653 of 1920, Renown, celebrated her centenary at the height of lockdown on May 8, reports Colin Tyson.
Owners the Howard family of Kirk Ireton, Ashbourne in Derbyshire, celebrated with a special steam-up, and played the organ at the time that, under normal circumstances, Renown would have been at her usual, early May bank holiday appearance at the Llandudno Transport Festival, and taking part in the street parade in all her glory.
Completed on May 8th 1920 for showman John Murphy of Co. Durham, the engine was built with no twisted brass, but fitted with a Thompson & Walton Feast Crane; the first engine to be fitted out in Fowler’s factory with one. Renown, and sister engine Repulse, were delivered in grey undercoat because they were urgently needed to work with Murphy’s Peacock Scenic Ride. The pair were supposed to go back to be painted the following winter, but never did.
They were painted blue and black at different times. Renown was used to crane cars off the scenic ride of W&WH Murphy, if they were on the same fairground. Its fire was often kept in for eight days at a time, because it was needed to pull, build and generate the ride. Around 1941, Renown was used on timber-loading in Cumbria. After the war, it stood derelict until 1952.
It then passed in 1952 to TE Tate of Co. Durham, then to W Johnstone of Warkworth in 1962, PR Bates of Consett in 1963, to AR Hawthorne & Sons of Woodcote in the same year and then to the Howard Brothers in 1979.
Renown has experienced her fair share of mishaps and disasters during her 100 years. In 1920, she was travelling in Ripon when a subsidence occurred and the engine partly fell into a cellar. In 1937, the flywheel sheared-off the crank and, towards the end of the season, she was towed back to the Tyneside shipyard for repairs.
More recently, following her appearance at the 2003 Great Dorset Steam Fair, Renown suffered major fire damage at the owners’ premises, and a complete restoration was again required. To the owners’ credit, the engine appeared in partially-restored form at the 2004 show. The full restoration was completed in early 2005.
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