Start of overhaul of steam locomotive 34007 Wadebridge

Based at The Watercress Line in Hampshire, 34007 Wadebridge was out of service after its boiler certificate expired in 2016, but now Wadebridge 34007 Locomotive Ltd has announced that the overhaul has begun.

The overhaul will see the works split in two with the Watercress Line engineering works at Ropley and Riley & Son Locomotive Engineers Ltd at Heywood.

Work at the Watercress Line saw the locomotive partially disassembled and on 9 August the chassis and boiler were sent by road to Heywood, no doubt a lucky few might have glimpsed its journey.

Work in progress at Riley & Sons will see the repair and re-tubing of the boiler, overhaul of frames, movement, brakes, springs and cylinders as well as wheel rotation. The most taxing part of the job will see the repair or replacement of the inner cylinder.

34007 Wadebridge // Credit: Edward Hindell

Back at the Watercress Line, Ropley will undertake the refurbishment of boiler fittings, cabin fittings, copper piping and cladding, as well as carrying out the tender.

Once the work is completed at Riley & Sons and the chassis and boiler returned, Ropley will then undertake the reassembly, testing and painting of the locomotive and tender before it is returned to service.

The massive project was specifically designed and executed with the option of operating Wadebridge on the main line as well as at home on the Watercress Line. It is hoped that Wadebridge will be back in action in 2026.

The locomotive is owned by Wadebridge (34007) Locomotive Ltd, with the Watercress Line Heritage Railway Trust being the majority shareholder.

Wadebridge Ltd chairman Stephen Evans said he was “absolutely delighted that Wadebridge is undergoing an accelerated overhaul”. This was made possible by the locomotive’s extraordinarily generous Swiss benefactor, Alex Choremi. Thanks to him and the Ropley and Riley’s teams, there is every chance that Wadebridge will return to the top rank of British operating steam locomotives within four years.

Jose P. Rogers