Steam locomotive GWR 813 out of service for several months


The GWR 813 Preservation Fund has released an update on Great Western Railway (GWR) 0-6-0 Saddle Tank No. 813 after it suffered a serious mechanical breakdown, and says it will be out of service for at least two to three months.

The incident happened while 813 was working during the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) Spring Steam Gala, when there was a fracture in the cast iron support for the large cross spring between the frames under the cab. This caused the spring to lift and protrude into the cab floor, but fortunately the footrest crew suffered no injuries, although the locomotive suffered considerable damage.

The cabin roof and bunker have now been lifted from the frames, and the spring and fractured casting parts have been removed pending a decision on how best to repair the damage. The choice seems to be between making a new casting in steel rather than cast iron, or making a replacement fitting, which would avoid having to make a pattern for a casting but could be difficult to produce.

The cause of the fracture has yet to be assessed, but a contributing factor may well be the age of the casting which was likely as old as the locomotive itself.

The final cost of the repair has not yet been determined, but it is likely to be substantial. This is compounded by the loss of rental income as 813 were due to visit the South Devon Railway and the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway. The potential loss of revenue could be in the region of £12,000 to £15,000, which would have gone a long way to covering the costs of the next ten-year boiler overhaul in four to five years.

This current issue follows an earlier setback in September last year when 813 had to be removed from service at the SVR Fall Gala due to a number of leaking boiler tubes. This necessitated a complete retubing of the boiler, which was undertaken by the SVR in November.

The recent misfortunes of 813 and the resulting loss of rental income have had a detrimental effect on the financial resources of the 813 Fund.

Donations can be made via the Fund 813 website at


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