A rather more typical industrial locomotive than the others in the Bluebell's collection, it was a product of the Avonside Company of Bristol, and built for the Stavely Coal & Iron Co. Ltd. Supplied new to Pilton Quarries in Rutland on 23 February 1927, it spent its working life around the ironstone quarries in the Rutland area.
For 50 years ironstone was quarried at Pilton. The Pilton Ironstone Company commenced the construction of the ironstone quarries in 1919 and the quarries were connected by a standard gauge mineral railway from the Midland Railway's Manton Junction to Stamford line. The quarry railway served three pits, Ancaster Pit, Scott's Pit and Wing Pit.
'Stamford' brought the last load of ironstone out of the quarry on 4 June 1969. Whilst locomotives 'Pilton' and 'Staveley' were sold for scrap, 'Stamford' was secured for preservation, being delivered to the Bluebell Railway in October 1969.
It was purchased by a group of Locomotive Department members at the time when the Bluebell only had eight locomotives, and we were looking for a more powerful addition to the fleet. Discovered to be in worse condition than initially apparent, and with a number of other locomotives arriving in the following years, it has never been used on the Bluebell. At one time, during a national coal shortage, consideration was given to overhauling it and returning it to traffic as an oil-burning locomotive.
With no forseeable use for it on the Bluebell Railway, in 1998 it was placed on long-term loan to a museum close to its original industrial working territory, the Rutland Railway Museum (now Rocks by Rail - the Living Ironstone Museum). Initially stored off site, the loco was transferred to the museum site near Cottesmore in May 2010 and can currently be seen in the exhibition building awaiting conservation work.
During late 2020 agreement was reached for the Bluebell Railway to sell the locomotive to the Museum so that it can remain in Rutland, and it was the subject of an appeal by them to raise around £10,000 to buy the locomotive and for its repair, re-assembly and conservation as a historic museum exhibit.
Right: 'Stamford"' at Pilton in 1966 (T.J. Edgington)
Built: 1927, Avonside, Bristol, Works No.1972
Final industrial Number: Stewarts & Lloyds No.24
Arrived on Bluebell Railway: 24 October 1969
On loan to Rocks by Rail, Cottesmore, since 2 October 1998,
and sold to them in April 2021.
Length: 26ft 6in
Weight: 27 Tons
Water capacity: 1,000 Gallons
Coal capacity: 1 Ton
Boiler Pressure: 160 lb/sq.in
Driving Wheels: 3ft 2in
Cylinders: (2, inside) 15" x 20"
Tractive Effort: 16,100 lbs
Engine Brake: steam
Note on Stamford's boiler
When the locomotive was built in 1927 the boiler would have been fitted with a copper inner firebox as per standard Avonside practise. However in Eric Tonks book "Ironstone Quarries of the Midlands Volume V11 Rutland" it is recorded that 'Stamford' received a new inner firebox in late 1962, and this firebox was of steel construction.
Our thanks are due to David Atkinson, Rocks by Rail's Curator, for this information.