How the skills of former steelworkers help get old steam engine back on track

A steam locomotive is back on track thanks to the engineering skills of three former steelworkers from Teesside.

Kelvin Whitwell, David Cholmondeley and David Wilkinson were part of the team which brings loco back to life at North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Ex-Redcar SSI employees Kelvin Whitwell (orange hi-vis vest), David Cholmondeley, 35, and David Wilkinson, 60, have helped restore steam engine no 80136 at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Built in Brighton in 1956, BR Standard Class 4 number 80136 was withdrawn from main line service in July 1965 and now belongs to the Class 4 Preservation Trust. It was brought to the NYMR from Crewe last April as a rolling chassis, a separate boiler and hundreds of parts that needed overhauling and refitting. Now, after more than a year of painstaking work by workers at the NYMR’s Grosmont depot, it has been restored to its former glory. “It has been over 10 years since this engine was last in steam on a heritage railway.”

Kelvin Whitwell, David Cholmondeley and David Wilkinson were all made redundant last October when SSI UK went into liquidation and the Redcar steelworks closed. Since then, the lads have all secured jobs at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway - Kelvin, 39, as a planning engineer and the two Davids as mechanical fitters. 'We had £20 left in our pocket on opening night, but the queue was round the block'.

And the three ex-SSI lads - Kelvin, 39, of Saltburn, David Cholmondeley, 35, of Teesville and David Wilkinson, 60, of Liverton Mines - are proud to have played their part in its revival.

Kelvin, who took a retraining course at Redcar and Cleveland College after losing the steelworks job he’d had for 20 years, said: “It’s come in at just over the allocated budget but within six weeks of the agreed time scale.

It’s hoped 80136 will be fully ready for service in the next week or so!

DAVE ROBSON - Gazzette Live