In November 2006, the restoration of Gertrude was taken over by a small team at Exmoor Transport. The locomotive was moved from Peter’s home to the restoration team’s base in Devon. The restoration took just over two years and was carried out at a range of sites and with the help of several friends and supporters. The project has been entirely financed by Exmoor Transport, and it is intended that the cost the the restoration will be covered through the engine’s operation while the loco remains on lease. The photos below are just a few depicting the restoration of Gertrude during her time in Devon.

Gertrude being rolled onto the lorry ready to go to Devon

Gertrude being rolled onto the lorry ready to go to Devon © Bob Sweet

Gertrude with trial fitting of boiler

Gertrude with trial fitting of boiler © A Kennedy

Between Gertrude's frames

Between Gertrude's frames © A Kennedy

One of the first decisions taken was to re-gauge the locomotive from 2ft to 60cm to make her compatible with track standards on the Ffestiniog, Lynton & Barnstaple and many other narrow gauge lines. The wheels were removed and sent to Baguley Engineering at Burton-on-Trent. Investigation there showed the axle journals had been welded to build them up on the bearing diameters. We took a decision to have three new axles, re-profile the tyres and flanges, fit new eccentrics and new crank pins and quarter the pin throws accurately.

In November 2007 Exmoor Transport started the restoration in North Devon in earnest under the control of Les Driver, their resident engineer, and apprentice Shaun Robins.

Inside Gertrude's cab during restoration

Inside Gertrude's cab during restoration © A Kennedy

Gertrude half way through the restoration

Gertrude half way through the restoration © A Kennedy

Every component has been refurbished or replaced; major replaced items are as follows:
There are 2 new buffer beams and the rear chassis has been straightened. A new brake shaft, new main spring mounting and pins and links. A new hand brake screw and nut, new cab complete. Re-machine axle boxes and all new horn-guide castings. New piston rods, new slide bars, new slide bar bronzes, new high pressure steam pipes, new smokebox door ring and boiler strip, a new fire box, all new stays, new foundation ring and fire hole door ring and new tubes. All new boiler crinolines and cladding, new safety valves, new cylinder drain cocks, new water tank lids, new brake hangers, and blocks. New pistons, rings and glands and air brake equipment. “Gertrude” was never fitted with air brakes or an air compressor so the brake shaft has all been made new and adapted to accommodate air braking; new couplings have had to be adapted. One of the last jobs was a new ash-pan.

In spite of the seemingly endless list above, “Gertrude” truly is a restored engine faithfully replicating the original working engine with only two significant deviations – the modern air braking system and the construction of an enclosed cab.

Gertrude on her first steaming after passing her boiler test, August 2009 © Nik Barrie

Gertrude on her first steaming after passing her boiler test, August 2009 © Nik Barrie

On 18th August 2009 ‘Gertrude’ received her boiler certificate, and over the August Bank Holiday weekend she visited the Leighton Buzzard Narrow Gauge Railway where she was reunited with sister engine (‘The) Doll’ for the first time since the pair were removed from Bilston in November 1960. Nearly Fifty years had passed since ‘Gertrude’ last worked a train, the Bilston Steelworks Rolling Mill line having been decommissioned in October 1959, and she had never worked a passenger train until the evening of Saturday 29th August when the Westmacott family were in attendance, an emotional reunion, especially as Sue Westmacott had tragically, and unexpectedly, passed away a few days earlier.

Restoring any steam locomotive is no easy task, and to achieve the fantastic standards attained with the restoration of Gertrude has only been possible with the support and or practical assistance of the following who we would like to acknowledge -

Les Driver, Andy Richards, Jim Pounds, Shaun Robins, John McGarrity, Len Howse, Darren Oggiano, Eric Leslie, Chris Poile, Bill Leadbetter, Roy Broxholme, Chris Hannaford, Robert Neighbour, Tony Brown, Mike Buse, Mike Selby, Andrew Kennedy and the Stirland Family. Thank you to everyone.

We, Exmoor Transport, are now managing the locomotive lease until August 2019 and the locomotive is available on both short and long term hire. All enquiries relating to the locomotive should in the first instance be made via the contact details on this website.