Well here we have a rather superb and fascinatingly historic machine, and another one that we've had in our ever growing Steam Workshop collection for a good few years now. Originally constructed in 1925 by Frank Baldwin of 'Baldwin Brothers Ltd for Sir Aubrey Brocklebank, who at the time was the chairman of the Directors' Locomotive Comittee for the GWR. She was designed by J N Maskelyne, and was his first entirely original design. Sir Aubrey laid down various specifications, the loco should be designed to a 'conventional British outline', but to the larger American loading gauge to give it that extra measure of power. It should be fast and simple to maintain, and negotiate radii down to 30 feet. We have a lovely early article from the Model Engineer by Maskelyne describing the project where he writes that he "knew that Sir Aubrey would not tolerate anything that looked clumsy or awkward".
Maskelyne originally penned a pacific, but Sir Aubrey pushed for the extra set of driving wheels of the 4-8-2, and so the drawings were thus extended. Interestingly, although Maskelyne went to see Frank Baldwin to pass on the drawings after Sir Aubrey placed the order, it seems that Baldwin more or less committed the whole thing to memory based upon their meeting and built the loco without direct reference to the drawings as Maskelyne states that he took them home with him when he left that day!
Steam trials were held in September 1926 at Bill Hart's Streatham railway, and the model was exhibited by Baldwin Brothers at the National Model Engineering exhibition that year before delivery. This is the rather grainy 1926 photograph that Maskelyne published of the loco as built.
There is then a gap in the model's known history, presumably during her time with Sir Aubrey Brocklebank. The next time we find her is when Edgar T Westbury and Maskelyne bumped into the model in the workshops of Bonds of Euston in 1954, where she was undergoing a re-build and the addition of a third cylinder. At some point the model then passes into the ownership of a Mr Ivan Scott, who in 1968 gifted the loco to the Beech Hurst Park miniature railway, to be used as a club locomotive. This is the first record of the locomotive bearing the name 'Etna'. The decision was taken by the club, partly out of respect for her age, and partly due to the need for 'heavy repairs' that she wouldn't be pressed into the normal revenue earning service. This photo shows the model as it arrived at Beech Hurst in 1968.
After clocking up another 20 odd years of life the club took the decision to pass the model on rather than undertake a further overhaul, and it moved again, this time to Derbyshire into the capable hands of Steve Andrews. Steve got straight onto a full and sympathetic rebuild that the engine required, this time to include a brand new boiler up to modern standards so that the loco could be again safely steamed. We've included here a few photos that Steve has been kind enough to send us.
The model then passed on to a new owner up in Lancashire, who although running the model on at least one occasion, generally preferred to kept the model in his private museum.
Finally, at the amazing age of 89, the loco then came to us a year or so ago, and after she underwent some remedial repairs and re-commissioning, she's now fully steam tested with fresh boiler certificates and she's ready to go.
We've run the model on just 2 occasions in our ownership. Once in the clip below the photos showing the initial static re-commissioning steam test at the workshops, and then once at Urmston Society of model engineers in Manchester, to ensure that everything works as well as it should in service. A credit to all the people involved in the historic care that this locomotive not only still exists, but runs so beautifully at nearly 90 years old!
For any more information please don't hesitate to give us a bell on 07816 963463.
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