Full steam ahead for Severn Valley Railway locomotive
The locomotive 75069 proudly puffed its way out of the Severn Valley Railway station in Bridgnorth on Saturday pulling a passenger train for the first time in almost a quarter of a century.
And some of the passengers were those who first saved the loco from a scrapyard back in 1973.
The heritage steam railway launched its 2019 season by unveiling the 75069 to the public after a seven year project to overhaul the loco and build a new boiler.
Specialist engineers, apprentices and volunteers have spent seven years and an incredible 25,000 plus hours working on the locomotive after it was decided it needed a major re-build.
Engineer service manager, Neil Taylor said: "It has taken seven years to restore after it was taken out of service 24 years ago. It needed a lot of work on it. It is nice to see so many people here obviously enjoying a visit to our steam railway."
Will Marsh from Church Stretton was the mechanical team leader on the project.
Like many of the staff he began as a volunteer on the railway and has always loved trains.
"I love them more than ever these days," he said.
"It is wonderful seeing it in service again after all these years."
Boilersmith, Ryan Parsons, 24, completed his apprenticeship on the locomotive.
Originally from Dorset he volunteers ont he Swanage heritage railway.
"I saw an apprenticeship advertised on the Severn Valley Railway and went for it. You get a real sense of pride when the work is done and the locomotive can go on the rails again."
For 73-year-old David Williams from Shenstone it is the second time he has seen 75069 back on the right track.
He was one of four men who rescued it from the Barry scrapyard in South Wales in 1973 after steam locos were retired in favour of diesel.
They paid £3,600 for it after 800 people came forward in what would now be called a crowd funding scheme to buy it.
He said: "I was a member of the Severn Valley Railway society at the time. After it was restored it was in service for about 10 years and then it was decided it needed an overhaul - which took a little longer than hoped."
Alex Rogers and her fiance, Steve Bradley both worked on the loco with Alex cleaning it up ready for today's journeys.
"We both work in the motor industry and we got talking and it turned out we both used to come to the railway as a child - now we both volunteer here and love it," she said.
"I do it for my Grandad, he would bring me up here all the time."
Many people took advantage of the spring weather to take a trip on the train or simply go along to the railway, which is also celebrating having a new refreshment room and new toilets.
Val Garland from Ketley, visiting with husband, Malcolm, said: "As a child I would sit on the railway bridge at Foxall and collect the numbers of the locomotives. This one is beautiful, you can see a lot of work has gone into it.
One of the youngest passengers was three year old Charlie taking a trip with his family, Wayne Roberts, Debbie Lees and John Lees. Mr Lees has been a member of the railway for 40 years and said it was wonderful to be able to take Charlie along to see the steam trains.
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