A rail challenge - the Harborough volunteers refurbishing a steam train

The locomotive that has arrived in Market Harborough, is the 1906 model from a quarry near Kettering.

Friday, 27th July 2018, 3:22 pm
Updated Friday, 27th July 2018, 3:29 pm
John Locke takes a closer look at the boiler. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Yes, people of Harborough... meet Kettering Furnaces Number Eight.

This 112-year-old locomotive is currently in intriguing pieces at Welland Valley Vintage Traction Club, on Glebe Road, Market Harborough.

But in two years or so it will be pristine; restored to “museum standard” by a small group of dedicated club members.

Ian Morris, Mandy Hudson, Janet Locke, John Locke and Roger West with the Kettering Furnances No8 steam engine which they hope to rebuild in the next couple of years. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

“We’ve had custody of ‘Number Eight’ for about 30 years” explained club member Roger Webb.

“Originally we were storing it for Kettering Borough Council, but more recently the ownership has been transferred to us. We won’t be able to make it steam again – that would need another £50,000 – but we can make it look like new, and it will become a showcase for all the work we do here.”

The historic locomotive dates from 1906, and ran until the early 1960s, taking iron ore from quarries around Rothwell into furnaces at Kettering.

The 20-feet long locomotive ran on an unusually narrow, three feet gauge, quarry railway, on a two-mile line across the old A6, pulling trucks containing more than 300 tons of iron ore at a time.

Today the quarries have gone, Kettering Furnaces has gone and the railway line has gone.

But ‘Number Eight’ – as club members fondly call it – still survives.

Club chairman Graham Allen said: “This restoration job is going to cost us £5,000-plus and take thousands of man-hours.

“But by restoring this locomotive, we’re bringing a little bit of local history back to life.”

“It’s a cosmetic restoration” added club member Roger Webb. “But when we’re finished, it really will look like new.”

Around half a dozen club members will be doing the bulk of the restoration work, using skills from engineering to specialised cleaning.

When it’s finished, “Number Eight’ will be a star of the Market Harborough yard, and could also go “on tour” to rallies and exhibitions across the region.

“There are fewer than half a dozen locos of this type surviving” said Roger. “So, yes, it’s quite a rarity.”

“We’ve just ot to decide what colour to paint it!” said Graham. “There were three different liveries.”

As for the club itself, Welland Valley Vintage Traction Club has around 140 members, most of whom live within a 30 mile radius of Market Harborough.