A tank engine for all seasons
Whereas 5820 and 90733 were built for long-distance freight working, the military needed the standard design of engines to work in yards and military installations. The Austerity saddle tank design was the answer, with many lasting wells beyond the end of the war.
A life of military service
Although built for the war effort, 118 was a home bird, working on the Longmoor Military Railway (LMR), the Royal Engineers military training railway in Hampshire, helping to train soldiers in the art of operating a railway and firing and driving steam engines.
When the LMR closed, 118 ‘Brussels’ was purchased for use on the KWVR.
Built: 1945 Leeds
Boiler Pressure: 170 psi
Tractive Effort: 23,870 lbf
Weight 48.25 tons
Valve Gear: Stephenson
Cylinders: 18”x26″ Inside
Numbers carried during working career: LMR 118
The engine was built by the Hudswell Clarke Company of Leeds in 1945 and spent all of its working life in military service, being based at Longmoor Military Railway which was the Army’s training railway. Many military railway personnel were passed out for firing and driving on ‘Brussels’.
In 1970 the Ministry of Defence announced its intention to discontinue railway operational training and thus the Longmoor site was to close. Some enthusiasts established a group to save the depot and reopen its railway for public use, in the same vein as the Keighley and Worth Valley.
With this in mind, a local supporter of the project purchased no 118 “Brussels” for use in the scheme. Once this scheme failed to materialise, however, ‘Brussels’ was offered to the KWVR. The Society purchased the locomotive and it finally arrived at Haworth in September 1971.
When the engine was first steamed in 1972 it was found to be underpowered in comparison to the sister locomotive ‘Fred’. To address this, the locomotive was converted from coal to oil firing. Although the KWVR had the experience of other oil-fired locos, actually undertaking-the conversion made no 118 unique among the ranks of KWVR owned engines. As well as fitting firing equipment to the boiler, the conversion also involved replacing what had been the coal bunker with an oil tank. During this time No. 118 was also fitted with both vacuum and Westinghouse air brakes. After a series of modifications and tests including modifications to valves and cylinders and a change over from using heavy fuel oil to a lighter type, the engine, at last, became efficient for the steeply graded KWVR line and it found useful service on the Railway until withdrawal.
The locomotive is now on static exhibition at Oxenhope will no plan to return it to steam.