Photo Gallery: Appeal to complete overhaul of unique workhorse steam railway loco based in north Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 14:12 08 January 2014 | UPDATED: 14:34 08 January 2014

The J15 loco in action when it provided a

The J15 loco in action when it provided a "fix it" for Abbie Panks' dream to fry a "fireman's breakfast" egg on a shovel on the footplate. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2013

A bygone railway workhorse needs a final shunt of fundraising to complete a £250,000 overhaul transporting her back 101 years.

Loco facts

The loco was built at Stratford works, on the site of the Olympic site development in 1912.

The Y14 and J15s were a familiar sight on the branch lines in East Anglia, where they were known as “maids of all work” - hauling freight such as milk and cattle as well as passengers.

Around 40 locos of her type, but not this engine, saw service in France during the first world war ferrying troops and munitions.

And in the second many served local military bases. One hauled a massive 14-coach train from Norwich to Weybourne’s Muckleburgh camp, showing the power of the humble little loco.

The J15 was bought by the M&GN Society in 1963 to save it, and was restored in the 1970s, before making the North Norfolk Railway its base.

The last surviving J15 has been a regular sight on the North Norfolk Railway for 40 years as one of its founding fleet of locos hauling happy holidaymakers past seaside scenery.

But during her working days the all rounder engine pulled freight and passenger trains right across the region.

Her latest major overhaul will convert the engine back to its near original guise as a Y14, with minor differences including a canvas cab roof, and royal blue Great Eastern paint livery.

Owners, the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway Society, build up a kitty for such overhauls through the steaming fees it charges the heritage line for using the loco.

J15 loco overhaul - how it will look when finished to the near original Y14 specificationJ15 loco overhaul - how it will look when finished to the near original Y14 specification

But it suffered a blow when a £100,000 Heritage Lottery Grant application was turned down, leaving them having to find the remaining cash elsewhere.

Chairman Neil Sharpe said the loco was “in a bit of a mess” suffering from rusting bodywork, making strange noises, and some damage from “an argument with some buffer stops.”

The major overhaul included the boiler and the mechanical running gear. Work had started using the existing funds, and the loco was in pieces at the repair works in Bury, while the society sought to find the remaining funds.

A plea to society members brought in an amazing £50,000 in 14 weeks, and there was now a 2014 push for the other half of the balance.

“Members have been terrific, with donations from £5, from people I know can ill-afford it, to £5,000 from a big supporter. Another person gave us a load of model trains from his late father for us to sell.”

The next fundraising push also allows people to sponsor parts on a shopping list ranging from £15 washout plugs, and £25 boiler clack valves to £75 for the overhaul of the whistle and leaf springs.

“It’s not often we ask for financial assistance, but it we really need help to finish this important project to get Y14 back steaming by September,” said Mr Sharpe.

“She’s a really popular loco and the crews like her because she is easy to fire and drive, - and she looks the part,” he added.

■ One off donation cheques can be sent the M&GN Society Joint Railway Society, care of Neil Sharpe, 3 Fairmile Close, Worlingham, Beccles, NR34 7RN.

For more details of the appeal, including part sponsorship visit

To chart the progress of the follow the appeal and overhaul follow it on facebook, or @mgnjointrailway on Twitter.

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