Fairlight Works

Official blog of the High Weald Light Railway (1977) Co. Ltd.

When I grow up I want to be...

2'-6"-gauge amberley diesel industrial inspiration narrow-gauge preservation prototype

Front 3/4 view

…well, it’s an obvious answer isn’t it?

This Baguley-Drewry diesel mechanical is described as a “60hp” type but the engine is actually rated at 72hp. It was built around 1980 for the internal 2’6″ gauge network at Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD) Trecwn in Wales, and later moved to a similar facility at Dean Hill before sustaining a broken axle in a collision with another loco. After being laid up for ten years it was sold during equipment disposals prior to the base closing, which has seen a number of these locos and the larger 99hp type appear at preservation sites around the country.

As well as the necessary repairs, this diesel has also been regauged to 2′ and fitted with air brake connections to allow it work on the railway at Amberley Working Museum in West Sussex. At their Spring Industrial Trains event at the weekend I was lucky enough to have a chance to drive it for a short distance – thus fulfilling that boyhood ambition of “driving a train”.

Driver's seat

Perhaps due to its relative modernity and short working life, the Baguley-Drewry is remarkably easy to control, with a very responsive throttle and very effective air brakes. It will literally “stop on a sixpence” and the ride is very smooth even on the fairly rough trackwork around Amberley’s storage sheds. Sitting sideways as is the custom on industrial diesels there is a good view out of the large cab and the controls are sensibly placed. While I only took it for a short distance away from the public section of the railway it was enough to want to try it again!

Many thanks are due to James Smith of Nonneminstre Models, owner of the loco, for allowing a thorough inspection and a “go” on it.