Full steam ahead for bid to restore classic engine

AN APPEAL has been launched to put a classic Yorkshire-based steam locomotive back in action and tickets for its first outings are on offer as incentives to donate.

The Bahamas Locomotive Society (BLS) was set up to buy Jubilee Class steam engine No. 45596, Bahamas – one of a series named after Commonwealth countries – when British Rail at Stockport withdrew her from use in 1967. Since then, the BLS has become a national player in rail heritage and runs its main museum and workshop at Ingrow, on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, where it is currently restoring an 1888 locomotive for the National Trust.

Bahamas is on display at the Oxenhope end of the line.

She has been out of action since her last boiler certificate expired, in 1997. But BLS members have saved 115,000 towards the estimated 400,000 it would cost to restore her and the society has decided 2011 is the right year for a drive to raise the rest – being the 50th anniversary of the fitting of the engine's unique double chimney, which was the last experiment by BR to improve the performance of steam locomotives, before they were retired from routine use.

The society has recruited the Bahamas Tourist Office to support the restoration project but is particularly hoping for Yorkshire support, because it is thinking of running Bahamas between Leeds and Carlisle, taking in the famously spectacular Settle-Carlisle line. It has put together a list of incentives for substantial donors, including dining-car tickets and footplate rides. (See Steam's Last Blast Appeal at www.bahamas45596.co.uk)

The 135-ton Bahamas was built in Glasgow in 1935, for the London Midland & Scottish Railway. Her last major overhaul was performed by the Hunslet Engine Company, in Leeds, over six months from 1967 into 1968, and kept her at work in the nostalgia business for the next 30 years.

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