This is a very interesting little loco. It came to us as a 5" gauge model of an unknown prototype and with equally unknown history. When it arrived, a little investigation proved it to be actually 4 3/4" gauge,..... and the more we looked into it the more intriguing it got!
The name on the tank was 'ISCA', so we started there. A little research showed that the Isca Foundry in Newport ran a couple of little industrial locomotives from the latter part of the 1800s through to around about the 1930s,.... and low n behold,... the earlier of the two was named 'ISCA'. It was listed in a couple of independent reference sources as 'ISCA' in capitals, and not the more obvious 'Isca', and so we felt fairly sure that we had our prototype.
The full size ISCA, was listed as having been built by 'B', which the standard locomotive manufacturer's key has down as Barclays & Co. No build date or works number were recorded, and it wasn't clear what year the locomotive arrived in Wales. This seemed to date it to between 1872 and 1882, as Barclays & Co only traded between those years. Interestingly this company was an independent spin off set up by Andrew Barclay for his brother and a few of his own sons. It had it's 'Riverbank' works across the road from the more famous and prolific 'Andrew Barclay' Caledonia works affair.
When we looked at old photographs of early Barclays & Co locos, they did appear to share a number of similarities with our engine. The large dome above the firebox supporting twin salter safety valves anchored to the boiler barrel on the left, the thin frames, early wooden brake blocks, general size and shape. so again things were pointing to our having got the right prototype,.... but in the absence of any definitive smoking gun or photographic evidence, we were still not convinced!
Having said that, we were keen to push on with the locomotives restoration, and as we were ready to paint and line the components, we took our inspiration from ornate and unusual the Barclay & Co makers plate. We thought it gave a sufficiently 'Victorian' look and was fiddly enough to make it interesting!
Having stared at a million photos of industrial 0-4-0s, something had been bugging me and eventually the penny dropped. Although we had been assuming the tank on ISCA as modeled to be a later addition, and the same with the bigger cab and driving wheels, the cylinders on our model are inclined, and all Barclays & Co products were horizontal cylindered. For me that sealed the deal that we didn't actually have a Barclay here, and that the reference source had been mistaken. On top of that I kept coming back to a 1930's Brush saddle tank that appeared to have a lot of similar lines to our ISCA. The smoke box door has a very distinctive ring around it's edge, the saddle tank (which we had been assuming to be a later addition) was very similar having a square bottom tank edge and being made up of overlapping flat head riveted sheets. The general size and shape of the cab, the correct angle of the cylinders, position of the sand boxes etc,.... all similar enough to be a later product from the same builder.
Looking into Brush locomotives proved even more tricky than those from the Barclay & Co concern! Set up by Henry Hughes in about 1865, The company 'Hughes's Locomotive & Tramway Engine Works Ltd' began producing steam locomotives, mostly little 0-4-0 tramway locos around 1867. It morphed into the Falcon Engine & Car Works Ltd in 1882, and then finally into the Brush Electrical Engineering Company by 1889. Without knowing any more about ISCA, we are not sure what year it would have been built, and therefore by which company. But for me the general size and shape, plus the lightness of the frames, and early boiler design point toward it being a Hughes or Falcon product.
Looking back again at the history of the Isca Foundry, it appears that Richard Leybourne took over as director in 1878, having just spent the previous 10 years converting,... of all things,.... little 0-4-0 Hughes built tramway locomotives to more conventional locomotive layouts for the Monmouthshire Railway & Canal Company. Although obviously this is essentially guesswork, it isn't too much of a stretch to think that Leybourne would go to the company that he knew when his Foundry needed a new locomotive. He was by all accounts a dynamic driver of the company which grew under his directorship, and from a long railway background so I think it quite probable that he invested in a new locomotive fairly soon after taking the reins. If he did so within 4 years of taking the helm, ISCA would be a Hughes, rather than a Falcon or Brush built locomotive.
Lastly, I currently think this is a Hughes locomotive, because,... daft as it sounds, I can't find any Falcon built locomotives with brake blocks mounted behind the wheels rather than in front of them. I can't be sure that there weren't any of course, but from the scant photographic evidence that I can find, Hughes appears to have been placing brake blocks in front of the wheels by around 1880, (the Corris and then Mersey locos testifying as much). The early 1867 Hughes sketch above shows them behind the wheel, and also has a general layout closer to that of ISCA.
For all the above reasons I think Richard Leybourne is the link for our locomotive, and I suspect it is a product therefore of around the 1878 mark. This is really as far as we have got, and we would be very grateful for any information that you might be able to provide. In the restoration of the model we are probably going to go with a Hugh's makers plate rather than a Falcon one, based upon the above assumptions, and the fact that the basics of the loco seem to suggest a fairly early prototype. I've attached a bunch of photos below of the project's progress.
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