15 February 2023
Severn Valley Railway-based 4-6-0 locomotive to go on hire to West Somerset Railway following recent overhaul.
GWR 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ will spend the summer season away from its base at the Severn Valley Railway. It will go on hire to the West Somerset Railway as part of a mutual agreement between the SVR and the locomotive’s owners, the Erlestoke Manor Fund (EMF).
Erlestoke Manor, which has recently been overhauled and is still to complete its final running-in at the SVR, will appear in the railway’s forthcoming Spring Steam Gala from April 14-16. After completing its duties at this event, it will leave the SVR in late April to spend the summer at the West Somerset Railway.
Duncan Ballard, Head of Steam Engineering of SVR, said: “This is an excellent opportunity for the SVR to continue our close working relationship with the WSR, and builds on the arrangement some years ago when the-then WSR-based Raveningham Hall spent an extended period in service at the SVR.
“7812 will be of considerable benefit to the WSR during their peak summer season. If it remained at the SVR, we would find ourselves over-supplied with steam engines for our anticipated requirements.”
Adrian Hassell, Chair of EMF, said: “With an April launch at our SVR home, followed by our return in the autumn, we see an extended summer visit of 7812 to Somerset as beneficial to the SVR, WSR and the EMF, in aligning with both SVR and WSR steaming requirements, and helping generate valuable income for the Fund’s future projects.
GWR 7812 'Erlestoke Manor' at the SVR, pictured departing Highley, light engine, on a series of test runs. ALAN CORFIELD
“With 2023 being the 50th anniversary year of the EMF and 7812 fresh from its full overhaul, we’re delighted that the summer season hire will help maximise the opportunities for supporters and the wider public to enjoy the sight and sound of 7812 in action.”
Jonathan Jones-Pratt, Chair of WSR also commented: “We are thankful to the EMF and the SVR for allowing this freshly restored 'Manor' to visit our line for the 2023 season. We are preparing for a busy summer again and adding an extra 'Manor' to the home fleet will certainly help bolster our operating capability! We are looking forward to seeing three 'Manors' operating on our line too which will provide something special for all concerned!”
After appearing at the WSR throughout the summer, 7812 will return to the SVR in the autumn, to take up duties for the rest of the season, especially during the run-up to Christmas, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year at the railway.
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