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4w Petrol-mechanical loco No.957
built by Frederick Howard Ltd, Britannia Iron Works, Bedford in 1926

Howard No.957 shunting SR 20T engineers wagon - Derek Hayward - 8 August 2010

In operation at the Bluebell's 50th Anniversary Gala on Sunday 8th August 2010 (Derek Hayward).

Britannia Gatehouse


Built by Howards in 1926, No 957 was used to shunt their agricultural implement and railway wagon factory sidings in Bedford. The Britannia Iron & Steel Works Ltd took over the site in 1932 to make pipe fittings and continued using it until a larger shunting loco was obtained in 1965. Through the intervention of a local enthusiast the company presented 957 to the Bluebell Railway where it was used for light shunting until about 1969. Under the auspicies of the Alf Brown Group an overhaul was begun in the 1970s at Horsted Keynes which had to include new wheelsets, and No.957 made its debut at the Bluebell's 50th Anniversary Gala in August 2010.

957 at Sheffield Park in 1960s Right: The imposing, and now listed, gatehouse of the Britannia Iron Works, Bedford, photographed in April 1995. This is the only remaining part of J & F Howard's premises where locomotive 957 was built and worked from 1926 until 1965. (Robert Bird)

Left: No.957 soon after arrival at the Bluebell in the 1960s

Further details, provided by Robert Bird, are available on a web page for the overhaul of this unusual locomotive.

The following details are taken from original sales literature:
Class: 2-speed 7 ton Main Line Loco
Wheel arrangement: 4w, chain driven
Maximum speed: 8 mph
Engine: Dorman type 4-JUD 3970cc developing 41bhp at 1000 rpm

Built: 1926 by James & Frederick Howard Ltd, Britannia Iron Works, Bedford
Maker's number: 957
Operated: 1926-1965
Arrived on Bluebell Railway: March 1965
Used on Bluebell until 1969, and returned to service: August 2010


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