Bluebell Railway Villa Team


Sharpthorn was built by Manning Wardle & Co, and completed on 26 February 1877, making it the Bluebell Railway's third oldest locomotive, and the oldest surviving Manning engine. Its connection with the Bluebell started when the line's construction contractor Joseph Firbank used it for building the railway. Firbank disposed of it shortly afterwards, and after working in a number of industrial locations, latterly for Samuel Williams, it returned to the Bluebell line for the line centenary in 1982.

[View of Sharpthorn on display] Sharpthorn is currently on display on a short track in the upper car park at Sheffield Park station. Its condition is so poor that plans to steam it for the line centenary were quickly abandoned. The work required includes some major repairs to the boiler and the frames, and possibly a new wheelset and tyres. Any use which could be made of the engine will be for show purposes only, as it is only a little more than half of Baxter's power (its tractive effort is only 5000 pounds, whereas Baxter's is 9000). Its limited potential for use, combined with the fact that Baxter will likely run for many years to come, and the major repairs required, and the heavy workload already under way in the workshop, suggests that some considerable time will pass before Sharpthorn runs again. This, however, is planned to happen - perhaps in about 15 years time.

[View inside Sharpthorn's cab] Sharpthorn has Manning Wardle's characteristic bent-over sheet cab roof, and side sheets forming little verandahs each side. The driver has to walk outside to notch up. Its current blue livery was made out of some old paint given to us, but it is planned to paint it in some kind of blue colour when it does run.
One interesting feature of Sharpthorn is the Salter safety valve columns housing the springs - these are graduated with the boiler pressure, a relic of the days before modern Bourdon-tube steam gauges were fitted. It has a steam gauge now, which is just as well as the two columns disagree by a wide margin. [View of Sharpthorn's safety valve columns]
[View of left leading wheel hub] Some indication of the nature of the repairs required is shown in this picture of the left leading wheel hub. The extra gaps between the wheel hub and the axle suggest that at some time the wheel came off the axle (which may explain the distortion in the coupling rods). Whether this wheel and axle can be used again is not yet known.

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