Martello Restoration

The overhaul and return to steam of Victorian tank engine ‘Martello’ (LBSC A1X No. 662) is our most recent and high profile project at Bressingham.  The engine had an active career up to 2011, visiting many preserved railways on hire but unfortunately had to retire from traffic early due to a number of problems with its boiler.

Now the plan to restore this engine and re-instate standard gauge steam passenger rides is almost complete. Bressingham Steam Society initiated this project, with support from the museum.  The main work involved a boiler lift and full replacement of the tubes and refurbishment of the chassis.  The condition of the boiler and chassis were good and mainly required metalwork cleaning and repainting.  It was an aim to raise a large proportion of the funds from within the society, who also managed the restoration, provided the workforce and will oversee Martello’s subsequent running.  The remaining costs were covered by public subscriptions/donations and included driver experiences and other incentives. Details of our current ongoing upkeep scheme are now set out on the membership/donations page.

Work began during the winter of 2014/15 and progressed throughout the 2015 season; the boiler overhaul itself becoming a working exhibit within the museum. The objective was to have Martello return to steam by the 2016 season, which has been achieved. The locomotive will remain predominantly at Bressingham and make use again of the museum’s standard gauge demonstration track, which had been out of action for some years due to lack of motive power. It was planned to have the Society’s ex LMS brake van restored at the same time.  This will then be used to carry visitors behind the loco.  Work has been underway on the brake van for some time, although there is still some interior refitting and modifications to the brake system required to make it compatible. Although the main overhaul project is now complete there are still ongoing costs such as the brake van. So further donations are always welcome. It is hoped and expected that the brake van will be available for public rides and the loco for footplate experience courses during the 2017 season.

This is a very exciting venture for the society, being the first major overhaul it has undertaken.  The choice of locomotive is also fitting, as Martello has become something of an ambassador for Bressingham, in addition to being an interesting machine in its own right. Now in steam again it is (along with the other operational ‘Terriers’) one of the oldest running locomotives in the world.  Built in Brighton by William Stroudley in 1875, it celebrated 140 years in 2015.