2857 in service

2857 was built in 1918 at the GWR’s Swindon Works and delivered new to Salisbury GWR depot. During a working life of 45 years it was based in many depots around the GWR (and later British Railways Western Region), including a brief spell at nearby Stourbridge shed. The locomotive was withdrawn from Neath depot in April 1963 having recorded a total of 1,276,713 miles in service.

2857 in preservation

2857 was purchased from Woodham Bros scrapyard on 20th May 1974 by The 2857 Society for a cost of £5,250 plus £525 VAT. The locomotive was moved by rail from Barry to the Severn Valley Railway in convoy with GWR Mogul 7325, arriving on 13th August 1975 (the 2857 Preservation Society web site states 20 August). They were respectively the 69th and 70th locomotives to leave Barry.

Restoration and first steaming

Restoration began at Bewdley in January 1976 and was carried out in the open air. A major setback was the discovery of a cracked cylinder casting. Although attempts at welding this failed, the locomotive was first steamed in preservation on 9th September 1979, minus cladding. A replacement cylinder block was acquired, having been found during the demolition of the Briton Ferry Steelworks in South Wales. The locomotive was steamed intermittently through 1980 but without entering regularly in service. 

Continued restoration and first full boiler ticket

At the end of 1980 the SVR announced that preserved boilers on the railway needed to be brought up to 1980’s BR standards. The owning group therefore resumed the restoration, with the boiler being overhauled by the SVR as a contract job and the opportunity being taken to fit the replacement cylinder block among many other tasks.

2857 was steamed again on 18th August 1985 and after a week of running in was able to make her only appearance on the main line hauling a demonstration freight train as part of the GW 150 celebrations of that year (as a heavy freight locomotive, 2857 was not considered suitable for main line passenger rail tours).

Overhaul and second boiler ticket

After expiry of the boiler ticket in February 1995, the owing group began a heavy general overhaul. Filming took place in October 2000 for an episode of the 2001 TV series “ Off the Rails” featuring Vince Henderson. The overhaul of 2857 was one of the items featured, although the commentary referred to the locomotive as a pannier tank!

2857 re-entered service after overhaul in July 2011, although initially the return to service was anything but trouble free. In December of that year water was discovered in both pistons, resulting in a period out of service for repairs. By April 2012 the decision had been taken to take 2857 out of service for a second time, this time for a boiler lift to cure some leaking stays. A third period out of service was needed in August 2012 following a major valve failure. Finally in December 2012 a crack was found in one of the main steam pipes between the regulator and the superheater header. Sourcing a replacement steam pipe was not easy, but 2857 finally resumed service in early March 2013.

Following these troubles, 2857 became a reliable performer, recording the highest annual mileage of any steam locomotive on the SVR in each of the years 2013 to 2015. However it became apparent in 2016 that as the locomotive approached its 100th anniversary, significant work would soon be required including relining the cylinders, replacing valves and pistons and attending to a bent piston rod. The locomotive was therefore withdrawn for an intermediate overhaul in September 2017, with a complete boiler re-tube being carried out at the same time.

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Specifications:

Built By GWR Swindon Works
Configuration 2-8-0
BR rating 8F-9F
Status In Service
Loco Number 2857
History
Built 1918
Designed By George Jackson Churchward
Type GWR 2800
1974 Purchased by 2857 Society
1975 Arrived on SVR
1979 First steamed in preservation
1985 Entered regular service on SVR
1994 Withdrawn for overhaul
2011 Reentered service
Technical
Length 63ft 2¼"
Weight 75t 10cwt
Tractive effort 35,380 lb
Pressure 225 lb/sq in