Come back No.18, your time’s not up – Seaham steamer back on track

The restored steam engine from Beamish Museum during it's visit to Seaham, where it used to run in it's working days at the town's docks. Driver David Smith of Newcastle.
The restored steam engine from Beamish Museum during it's visit to Seaham, where it used to run in it's working days at the town's docks. Driver David Smith of Newcastle.
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A STEAM engine has returned home after it was restored to its original glory.

The No.18 locomotive was built in 1877 and spent 92 years working in Seaham Harbour, transporting materials around the docks.

It was put into storage after its retirement in 1969, then in 1975 it was passed on to Beamish Museum which put it on display at its Edwardian Colliery, until it recently underwent an overhaul.

But before it is put on the tracks again and run at the museum’s railway, it was brought back to its home town to show the crowds who gathered on the Terrace Green this week.

Among those who welcomed it back was Derek Bland, 81, from Parkside, who recalled the engine from his days spent working for Elgey’s timber yard and at Dawdon pit, before becoming a council gardener and grave digger.

Derek, who is secretary of the town’s branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “I remember it was puffing around all the time. It was very busy then.

“I think it’s fantastic. We should preserve more of our history.”

Deputy mayor Coun Barbara Ramshaw was among the members of Seaham Town Council on hand to see the engine brought into town.

She said: “I think it’s brilliant and it’s a great achievement to bring it back. The town council hopes the event will pave the way for other displays by the museum once the marina is opened to the public.”

Her consort, Coun Brian Allen, added: “It’s good to see it because a lot of these have been scrapped, used for parts or taken aborad.

“They’ve been vanishing and it’s great to see this one restored.”

The No.18 is a small standard gauge steam locomotive and its design was ideal for use on tightly-curved tracks and confined spaces around the harbour.

It is thought to be the last surviving engine made by Stephen Lewin and Co in Poole, Dorset.

Visitors to Beamish will be able to see it at its Power from the Past event, which runs until Sunday at its colliery railway.

It is expected to be running again soon, once final commissioning is done.

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