I know you are saying what has this engine to do with Bridgwater. Actually, it’s a very historic steam locomotive and Bridgwater plays an important part in its history. 0-4-0ST number 1338 is one of a class of only two engines, unusually employing Kitson-Hawthorn valve gear with the link above the running plate, built for the Cardiff Railway in 1898.
The Cardiff Railway was owned by the Marquis of Bute and was the smallest railway absorbed into the Great Western in 1923. It operated a ‘main line’ of 11 and a half miles connecting to the Taff Vale railway (also absorbed into the GWR in 1923) and 120 miles of dock and colliery sidings. It owned only tank locomotives of various sizes.
This attractive little engine was built as Cardiff Railway No. 5 in 1898 by Kitsons of Leeds (works number 3799), to replace an older No. 5. With its twin, No. 6, it was inherited by the GWR in 1923, who-renumbered them 1338 and 1339. 1339 was cut up in 1934, but 1338 remained, initially in store but then loaned to Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd of Swansea during the second world war. On return it was transferred to Taunton depot in 1943 for working in Bridgwater docks, then to Swansea docks in 1960. From there it was finally withdrawn in September 1963, becoming the last withdrawal of all standard gauge locomotives absorbed into the GWR. It ran 354,000 miles in GWR and BR service, a huge mileage for such a small engine.
In April 1964, 1338 was saved from scrapping and moved to behind the up platform at Bleadon & Uphill (Somerset) station, where it could be detected amongst the bushes from passing expresses. Anyone remember the museum at Bleadon & Uphill Railway Station? Well I’ve added a paragraph at the end of this article about this Somerset museum now long gone.
In 1987 the locomotive was taken to Didcot Railway Centre, and was restored to working order, though the boiler certificate has now expired and the locomotive is on display in non-working condition. You can see it for yourself there – opening times can be found at www.didcotrailwaycentre.org.uk
The picture used for this article was taken by me on 20th July 1976 and shows 1338 at Bleadon & Uphill station.
For moremore information about Bridgwater Docks www.bridgwatermuseum.org.uk
Bleadon & Uphill Railway Museum
Yieldingtree Railway Museum at Bleadon & Uphill Station near Weston Super Mare was run by Bob Smallman in the 1960s. The origin of the museum was that the station was adjacent to his house and when it became an unstaffed halt, he was able to rent it for the purpose of a museum. Besides 1338, there were also many narrow-gauge exhibits including some from Ireland. After it initially closed, it was reopened as the Somerset Railway Museum on 7th June 1969 and exhibits included a BR Railbus. I cannot find a date for final closure, but some pictures from 1983 can be seen at https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/bleadon-uphill-station-september-1983.56269