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Fenchurch's Repair

Updated 3 November: Sorry, too much time spent working on Fenchurch has made it difficult to keep up with these pages. Latest news of Fenchurch's repair can be found on the news pages.

This page describes the events leading to the engine's current state of repair, the work already done, being done, and planned.

[View of Fenchurch on the pit] Fenchurch was bought by the Bluebell Railway in the Spring of 1964 as a working engine, at 91 years the oldest engine to have worked on British Railways. On the Bluebell it worked most years until 1970, and was then overhauled for its centenary in 1972. In 1975 its inner firebox was condemned, and after replacement with a steel box it returned to work in 1980. In 1988 a crack was found in one wheel hub, so it was taken out of use for a new set of wheels to be made.

At that time the Bluebell Railway's traffic requirements were such that Fenchurch's repair had a fairly low priority. A fund was started to raise money for the new wheels, the cost of which was not at all certain.

For reasons which are not entirely clear, Fenchurch was somewhat less popular with the footplate crews than most locos. Amoungst the small number of us who appreciated Fenchurch's special qualities was a young but highly skilled fireman, Matthew Wood. In 1991 Matthew died of an asthma attack, and the Fenchurch fund became a kind of memorial to him.

New Wheels

After many stages of work over a number if years, the new wheels are now complete and waiting for an engine to be put on top of them. Read the full story of the making of Fenchurch's new wheels.

The Boiler

Fenchurch has a boiler in good order, having had a major repair in the late 1970s. It now needs relatively little work to out it in steam again. Read about work on the boiler.

The Cylinders

The cylinders have caused a major setback in Fenchurch's progress towards working again. Corrosion from the top downwards has damaged them so much that complete replacement had been decided upon, a job which will take several years to achieve. However, a recent re-evaluation has led to a repair being possible, which will expedite matters. Read about work on the cylinders.

Frames and structure

Fenchurch is lucky to have frames in remarkably good condition for such an age, with no major corrosion or distortion. Some of the structural parts are showing their age, but there is evidence that much of it is original parts. Click here for more details.

To be continued as work progresses...

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