The volunteers at Groudle Glen Railway are delighted to announce that they will soon be taking delivery of a brand new steam locomotive for 2019 which has been christened ‘Otter’.
‘Otter’ has been built by the North Bay Railway engineering works in Darlington and is one of two locomotives constructed by them based upon the historic locomotive ‘SIPAT’ design which was built by Bagnalls of Stafford, the first being ‘Georgina’ which entered service on the North Bay Railway in 2016 with construction work on Otter started at the time with the view to finding a buyer which didn’t materialise.
The volunteers at Groudle Glen Railway have been working closely with the North Bay Railway in recent years assisting with the provision of patterns and designs for the ‘SIPAT’ locomotives. Also more recently Groudle’s original locomotive; ‘Sea Lion’ built 1896 by Bagnalls of Stafford, was rebuilt at the North Bay Railway following major unexpected boiler works being required with the support of the Manx Lottery Trust, The Elizabeth Clucas Trust, The Scheinberg Family,The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and Culture Vannin.
Steam locomotive maintenance issues at Groudle over the past two years reinforced the aspiration that the volunteers have held that the railway requires three steam locomotives to maintain the basic service at the railway, as with major works required on ‘Sea Lion’ and the privately owned locomotive ‘Annie’ left the railway at times without any steam motive power.
As part of this aspiration, in 2013 Groudle Glen Railway launched an appeal project to build a replica of their other original Bagnall steam locomotive, ‘Polar Bear’ of 1905 as she now resides at the Amberley Museum in Sussex. The “Build Brown Bear” appeal has been successful and she is in the final assembly stage and is expected to be launched at the railway during the 2019 Isle of Man Heritage Transport Festival in July. (picture above)
To complete the aspiration of owning three steam locomotives, the opportunity arose for Groudle Glen Railway to purchase ‘Otter’ when construction had been halted due to the lack of a buyer. At this stage Groudle Glen Railway was extremely fortunate to be generously supported by the Alan Chinery Trust in providing funds to ensure the locomotive was completed. She is ideal for Groudle Glen Railway due to her design, power capabilities and being of a Bagnall design similar to ‘Sea Lion’ & ‘Brown Bear’ which will aid future maintenance of the locomotives.
Once she arrives at the railway she will undergo testing with a view to seeing her enter service this summer season and be launched alongside’ Brown Bear’ in July. With her striking blue livery, the volunteers are confident she will be a very popular addition to the railway with local families and visitors alike.
The volunteers are delighted that this once in a lifetime opportunity arose to acquire ‘Otter’, and alongside her Bagnall designed stablemates Sea Lion and Brown Bear will be the realisation of the railway’s aspiration to own three steam locomotives to safeguard the railway’s future.
The volunteers wish to thank the Trustees of the Alan Chinery Trust, The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and the North Bay Railway for their support in the construction of Otter whilst also thanking the supporter of the Brown Bear appeal over the past 6 years which have ensured that the railway’s future is secure in terms of steam locomotive power.
(Photos courtesy of Peter Johnson / Richard Booth)
Groudle Glen Railway will be operating Easter Bunny Trains & the free Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday and Monday 21st & 22nd April from 10am to 4:30pm. Tickets available online at www.ggr.org.uk and include return train travel, Easter Eggs for the children from the Easter Bunny, entry in the egg hunt to win a Car plus 4 return with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company plus free tea, coffee and orange juice and a downloabled photo with the Easter Bunny.
The Groudle Glen Railway Summer Season Timetable:
Sundays – May to September: 11am to 4:30pm
Wednesday evenings (in conjunction with MER services):
June 19th to August 28th : 7pm – 9pm
Manx Heritage Transport Festival: Launch of Brown Bear & Otter:
Wednesday 24th July: 11am – 9pm
Saturday 27th July – Victorian Day: 11am – 4:30pm
Sunday 28th July – Gala Day: 11am – 4:30pm (Locomotives Launch: Midday)
Cliff Top Concerts:
Sunday 11th August
11am – 4:30pm
Santa Trains: 14th, 15th 21st & 22nd December – 10am to 3pm
Mince Pie Trains: Boxing Day 26th December – 11am to 3pm. – *Tickets available online from October 2019.