No 7007 - Great Western
About the engine
With the re-opening of the line in 1974, and the switch to electric motive power, there was a clear need once more for a second locomotive.
Alex Schwab had bought 5060 second hand (although only six months old), but now set about designing a brand new engine. He worked with Tom Smith of Lechlade, who had supplied the first electric engine, and together they produced the locomotive which entered service in 1976 bearing the number 7007 and the name Great Western.
Smith re-used the motor originally fitted to his electric railcar, on his own Lechlade Light Railway. (This railcar, converted to a saloon coach, later came to Saltwood as well - see C&W pages.) The motor never performed well in Great Western, and Alex Schwab expressed disappointment in the locomotive, until in 1986 Tom Smith recommended a full overhaul of the motor by Sid Shorter, who was the engineer of the Bridgehill & Beechwood Railway near Canterbury, a private 7¼" line near Canterbury, owned by Mike Stewart, which operated entirely with Tom Smith stock. Shorter identified a problem with the brush gear. He removed the motor to Canterbury and overhauled it, with Great Western returning to operational service during the 1986 season. The engine was transformed, and now operated beautifully, performing at least as well as sister-engine Earl of Berkeley. Sadly, these improvements only benefited the line for six months, as the tragic closure was to occur in 1987.
The motor in Great Western was a 24v dynostart motor from a Churchill tank. Tom Smith acquired eight such motors (Army surplus) and they were used in eight of his locomotive builds, including both Saltwood engines.
By mutual agreement Great Western was supplied slightly unfinished, so that Alex Schwab could make some alterations. Tom Smith had a very practical approach to design and construction, which sometimes left Alex Schwab wanting a little more in the way of attention to detail. The unfinished delivery condition was a compromise, allowing Alex to add the ‘finishing touches’, including mock springs, buffers, and other details.
Where is it now?
After Alex Schwab's death thieves broke into Saltwood locomotive depot and stole the nameplates from the cab sides of Great Western. The engine returned to Lechlade in the summer of 1987, and received a full overhaul, including a repaint into blue livery. The locomotive was subsequently sold on to Pettitts Amusement Park in Norfolk, for £1,200. The locomotive underwent extensive rebuilding; stripped of her electric motor, she was equipped with a petrol hydraulic drive and re-gauged to 10¼" gauge. In this guise she operated in Norfolk until largely replaced by Pettitts' own home-built locomotive. The engine became redundant and went into storage. Reportedly sold in September 1991, her whereabouts for several years remains uncertain. She emerged again in April 2009 and under the careful eye of her new owner, Jack Salter, was converted back to her original gauge and colour scheme. It was intended that the engine would return to service in the Doncaster area, but more recently the engine has once again slipped into hiding. Any up to date information would be gratefully received.