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My Favourite Class - Baldwin Steam Locomotive

Martin Lovell

MARTIN LOVELL reveals his favourite locomotive.

When our glorious editor called upon me to write this article, initially I was somewhat stumped.

I mean, how do you pick a favourite from so many different locomotives that I like?

How could I choose between a 1947 Decauville 0-4-0 T, such as the one at Amberley Working Museum, or the quarry Hunslets found on the welsh railways and even in Cornwall, or the vintage De Winton vertical boilered locomotive at Leighton Buzzard? All of which I have been on the footplate of. And what about the internal combustion side, the Rustons, the Hunslets, the Ransome and Rapier, the Simplexes...

This, I felt, would call for the judgement of Paris!

However, I decided that I would plump for a locomotive which, although not British built, was to be found on various Narrow gauge lines after the First World War, obtained as war surplus, namely the Baldwin.

Built in a variety of wheel arrangements, 2-6-0, 2-4-2, 4-6-0, many of these locos were built for use on the vast network of 2ft gauge railways serving the front line and surrounding areas in France and Belgium. They did not go too near the front, as, emitting steam, smoke, and sparks, they would be easily spotted targets for enemy artillery, the transport of shells and the like was a job left to the petrol and diesel locos such as the Simplex and Kerr Stuart "tractors".

Baldwin 2-6-2T Locomotive

A Baldwin 2-6-2T locomotive, shown in service after the First World War.

Most of the locos exported after the conflict were built around 1917 and were of the 4-6-0 arrangements, having 2ft driving wheels, 8 by 12 inch cylinders, and worked at 140-pound pressure. Being war surplus they were quite cheap compared to a new locomotive, hence 2ft gauge light railways and contractors were able to obtain a powerful but light locomotive, with a bar frame, suitable for tight curves, and ideal for the light rail used by these companies.

The Ashover, Glyn Valley, and Welsh Highland Railways all made use of these, many remaining until the end of these railways. Even then, some have survived until the present day on preserved lines, such as Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire. So next year most preserved Baldwins will be celebrating their centenary, not bad for unwanted scrap!

Unfortunately not preserved, my favourite Baldwin locomotive is "Lyn" of the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway in North Devon. This railway, meandering through the Devon countryside, was opened in 1898 and originally was supplied with 3 2-6-2 tank locomotives by Manning Wardle of Leeds, for the princely sum of £1,100 each, named after local rivers, Yeo, Taw and Exe.

The company had hoped that these 3 locos would suffice, but soon realised that this would leave no margin for summer season breakdowns or emergencies, so another loco would have to be obtained. Manning Wardle, as indeed many British Locomotive builders had their order books full, so an approach was made to Baldwin of Philadelphia in the U.S.A, for a suitable machine.

Baldwin Locomotive Lyn

Official builders photo of Lyn, 1898

The locomotive was shipped in parts, and erected at the companies Pilton Yard works in 1898. Named Lyn, she was a 2-4-2T with outside bar frames and equalised bogies, and was lavishly sprung. She weighed 22 tons, with 2ft 9in driving wheels, 2 10in by 16in cylinders, and a working pressure of 180lb giving a tractive effort of 7,418 lb, slightly more than the 7,269lb of the Manning Wardles.

She lasted until the end of the railway in 1935, and unfortunately along with 3 of the Manning Wardles was sold for scrap - for only £50! Lyn reduced to a heap of scrap metal, apart from her wooden cab which was obtained by one of the railway staff for use as a shed.

Lyn Locomotive Scrapped

The remains of Lyn after she was scrapped. Photo reproduced with kind permission from Oakwood Press, from 'The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway 1895-1935 (Seventh Edition)'

So there we are, the Baldwin locomotives.

Bachmann Baldwin

Forthcoming Bachmann Baldwin

In model form, Bachmann are due to be bringing out at least 4 models of the 4-6-0T type in different liveries, and Minitrains have various versions of the 2-6-2T Trench Train (Ed's note - as used by the USATC) all of these in OO9/ HOe scale.

Minitrains Baldwin

Minitrains Baldwin Trench Locomotive

Bachmann Spectrum did produce a Lynton 2-4-2T “Lyn” in G scale several years ago, and Gem had a white metal kit in OO9, once again, some years back. As Heljan are bringing out a model of the L&B Manning Wardle, perhaps they may follow with the Baldwin, who knows?

So until the next time, happy modelling.

Martin

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