A photograph of 4160 after it was purchased by the Plym Valley railway group on the old Millbay Station site in Plymouth taken in 1981 outside the Duke of Cornwall Hotel. 4160 was put on display for publicity purposes for nearly a year then moved to the Marsh Mills site to begin restoration. We understand that the Millbay Station originally had broad gauge track.
This is the history of the Large Prairie Locomotive number 4160 and Paul Johnson’s early involvement in Plym Valley Railway to the present day, together with the many other dedicated people who had a hand in restoring this loco.
The 4160 was built in Swindon in September 1948 under Lot No 369. This 4160 was the first of the last batch of 19 engines to be built at Swindon. This class of 5101 was designed by CB Collett at a cost of £8,190 for the whole engine; the boiler no is 8810 and was built at a cost of £1,553. The loco’s weight is 66 tons empty and 78 tons 9 cwt fully laden.
The first shed allocation was in Barry South Wales 1948. The second shed allocation was at Rhymney in 1954 and the third allocation was at Radyr in 1958. The engine was then stored in 1962 and the fourth allocation was in Radyr in 1963. The last shed was Severn Tunnel Junction, arriving in October 1964 where the loco was condemned to be scrapped in June 1965. The last known recorded mileage in December 1963 was 443,312.
The loco was moved to Woodham Brothers Scrap Yard with other ex-Severn Junction locomotives in 1965, and languished there for 9 years until it was purchased by the Birmingham Railway Museum. It was then moved to Tysley in August 1974.
Plym Valley Days and the "Happy 100"
By 1981 the loco had been put up for sale and an embryonic group called The Plym Valley Railway based at Marshmills Plymouth Devon purchased the loco. This group had originally been set up to purchase another loco 5967 Bickmarsh Hall that was at Woodham Brothers Scrap Yard in Barry. At the time 4160 was considered to be in much better condition than Bickmarsh Hall, which had considerably deteriorated, and 4160 was more suitable for the Plym Valley Railway line. 4160 was then purchased for the sum of £10,000. The loco was moved to Plymouth by Mike Lawrence in May 1981. Initially it was displayed on the derelict site of the old Millbay Station opposite the old Continental Hotel in Plymouth.
During 1982 it was moved to a storage site on land owned by English China Clay this was adjacent to the Plym Valley Railways current site. At the time the Plym Valley Railway site was not legally accessible until late 1982, much to the frustration of the then Plym Valley directors, one of which was Colin Rolfe, the initial founder of the project and a shareholder in 4160 Ltd.
4160 Lt d was incorporated in 1982 by people such as Christopher Jones, Peter Pratt, Godfrey Endean, who were the original directors of the company. They were joined by about 100 people who agreed to buy £100 worth of shares each and multiples of, in the newly formed company. They were known affectionately as the “Happy 100” and sadly not as many are involved today.
Once 4160 was on the Plym Valley Railway Site at Marshmills the restoration work started in earnest. Albeit in the open air, on rough ground, no electric, water or compressed air! Because of the lack of facilities not a great deal of major work was possible.
During 1983 the late Malcolm Roe became involved with the project; Malcolm was an experienced engineer who was working in the maintenance section of Mother Pride Bakery in Plymouth at the time. He really began to move the dismantling work forward and acquired two old van bodies which were used as workshops and stores. A small generator was acquired and at last progress was beginning to be made. At this time he was assisted regularly by shareholders such as, Ernie Crang, Mike Mills, Steve Harris, Peter Frazer, Chris Liddicoat, Edgar White, Norman Bowley, Norman Emmett to name just a few.
In 1984 the current 4160 Ltd director and company secretary, Paul Johnson, first became involved with the project in Plymouth. Paul originates from Plymouth and had been a founder member of the Plym Valley Railway joining at the inaugural meeting in February 1980. He had begun his long association with railway locomotive preservation in 1975, first as a member of the Plymouth Railway Circle, then after meeting the renowned Richard Elliott, at the PRC. He became an active member of the Dumbleton Hall Preservation Society, regularly working on No 4920 at Buckfastleigh for many years until it was completed in 1990/91.
In 1980 Paul Johnson was a student studying for his HND in mechanical and agricultural engineering and during his holidays was able to get involved once access was allowed for site clearance at Marshmills. At this time he was also involved with the Traction Engine Restoration Movement in South Devon and East Cornwall, regularly assisting various engine owners with repairs and crewing on the road and at rallies in the Newton Abbot and Bodmin areas. He also assisted the colourful character, Alan Wheelhouse, with his Rapid Wallis Advanced Roller. Also he assisted the likes of John Woodley and his Robey Tri-Tandem, Steve Veale and the Daniel brothers in Cornwall with their rollers and ploughing engines.
From 1984 Paul began contributing monthly by standing order to 4160 Ltd as part of the share purchase scheme.
At about this time the ever enthusiastic, Peter Pratt had managed to negotiate the gifting of a South African Railways 3ft 6ins gauge Beyer-Garratt articulated loco to 4160 Ltd, the loco was basically in working order when it arrived at Marshmills.
All that had to be found was the shipping costs to UK and road transport to Plymouth! In the event the shipping was arranged on a sponsorship deal by Peter Pratt along with craning at Southampton, leaving only the road transport to Plymouth and craning off to be paid for by 4160 Ltd, the cost for this was in the region of £15,000. This money was borrowed from the bank at a time of rising interest rates, in hind sight not a good idea.
Peter had a dream and predicted great things for the Garrett, he was a great fan of South African steam, and even seriously proposed relaying sections of the old Princetown branch on Dartmoor to the 3ft 6ins gauge to run the Garrett on. The restored Plym Valley Railway once it had reach Yelverton, would then link to the onetime junction for Princetown Branch. Unfortunately the dream never came true.
The next few years saw little progress on 4160 or the Garrett ‘plan’. In the meantime Paul was working as a marine diesel engineer in Kingsbridge Devon, where he lived with his long-time partner Judith whom he met while at college in Wiltshire. While in Kingsbridge Paul met the future director of 4160 Ltd, Mike Crees, who was running his marine engineering business in Salcombe. Mike had grown up in Maidenhead and had lived next to the Great Western Railway for a number of years, and had witnessed Kings Halls and all classes of GWR engines prior to their demise. Paul introduced Mike Crees to 4160 Ltd and Malcom Roe and a friendship developed.
Iffey Rivet Company to West Somerset Railway
In 1985 Paul visited West Somerset Railway for the first time where a small Prarie No 5572 was on hire for the summer. On the first trip from Bishops Lydeard David Rouse, who was driving the train, and upon learning that Paul lived in Kingsbridge and was interested in the old Kingsbridge Branch, invited him on to the footplate of the 5572. David’s fireman that day was Paul Conibeare, who is now the WSR plc’s General Manager. Thus began Paul Johnson very long and deep interest in the WSR, from this first trip he was bowled over by the length of the line and its immense untapped potential and the sense of actually going somewhere. It also began a very lasting and deep friendship with David Rouse, who amongst many other railway preservation achievements, had been the man responsible for saving 2251 class 0-6-0 No 3205 from British Rail in 1965.
On the return journey from Minehead that day on a Gloucester DMU Paul was invited into the driving cab to chat and observe the forward view by the driver, who was Doug Hill the then General Manager of WSR. From then on Paul was hooked and upon returning home to Kingsbridge he immediately joined the West Somerset Railway Association who were the support group to the railway. Paul visited the WSR on many occasions over the next few years, always keen to see progress on the many different ongoing projects, particularly the restoration of loco No 4561 then underway at Minehead under the direction of the inimitable Bill Monteith. Also under restoration in the late eighties was S&D 2-8-0 No 88, which was returned to steam first in the autumn of 1987. Paul made financial donations and sold draw tickets for both of these locos. David Rouse’s loco 0-6-0 3205 was also now at Minehead awaiting minor boiler work before it too came into use on the WSR for the first time in 1988.
In late 1987 Paul and Judith moved to live near Weston Super Mare where Judith came from. Paul still went down to Buckfastleigh South Devon Railway, regularly to work on loco 4920 and began a spell helping out at Bitton on the Avon Valley Railway, working on a RSH 0-6-0 overhaul with Colin Baseley.
During late 1988 after a spell working for Kellands of Bridgewater Paul decided that he would like to spend time travelling and working in Australia. So in November Paul set off for Melbourne and an eight month adventure travelling in Auz. He visited as many railway preservation sites in Australia as he could, including a long held ambition to see, in the metal, loco 4079 Pendennis Castle, which at the time was owned by the Hammersley Iron Company in Karrather, Western Australia. While in the Melbourne area Paul came across none other than 4472 Flying Scotsman on its Australian tour and spent a couple of days helping Roland Kenington the loco’s resident engineer fit a large chime whistle under the driver’s side of the cab. A footplate ride back from a trip to Bendigo was the reward!
Upon return to Somerset in July 1989 Paul responded to an appeal in the WSRA Journal for people with engineering skills to assist with the latter stages of the restoration of loco 4561 at Minehead, so in August 1989 began in earnest Paul’s long association with the Locomotive Department of the WSRA. At the time loco 4561 was being restored mainly by a volunteer group that had adopted the unlikely mantle of the ‘Iffy Rivet Company’, a name first coined by Andrew Forster who at the time was overseeing the restoration as a virtually full time volunteer, being between jobs at the time. The WSR Chief Engineer at the time was a man named Malcolm Kershaw but he moved on in late 1989. Another increasingly influential member of the team was Paul Conibeare, who at the time lived in Minehead and worked as a BT linesman specialising in business lines, his girlfriend Glenda would appear at the shed with their young daughter. A character who appeared for the first time in August 1989 was Gareth Winter, who at the time was working as a construction plant fitter in Bridgewater. Gareth went on to become a major player in the Iffy Rivet Company and later still became the much respected and well liked full time engineer at the WSRA’s Williton Workshops, which evolved out of the Iffey Rivet Company.
4160 moves to Minehead
While working on 4561 almost full time Paul Johnson returned to Plymouth every couple of weeks do some work on 4160. Alas progress on the 4160 had ground almost to halt due to the constraints of the location and the lack of finance owing to all of 4160 Ltd’s income having to be used to service the loan taken out to pay for the transport of the celebrity Garratt. (Interest rates at the time peaked around an unconceivable 15%). Further problems arose when Peter Pratt resigned as a director of 4160 Ltd as he had moved to Tamworth, where he had set up a narrow boat marina business. Malcolm Rowe was by now the 4160 Ltd chairman and he asked Paul Johnson to become a director of the company.
The company secretary was by now a Mrs Norma Gazzard. So Paul was duly co-opted onto the board in September 1989. The first thing he set about doing was to investigate the selling of the Garrett locomotive, as it had become a major drain on the company’s resources, with no prospect of it ever being able to realise any potential that it may or may not have had! After investigation it was established that 4160 Ltd was free to dispose of the Garrett as it saw fit.
Paul soon found a buyer for the Garrett, namely the Springburn Museum of Social History in Glasgow, where the Garrett No 4122, was originally built by the North British Locomotive Company. A price of £28,500 was agreed upon and the sale was made. The money was used to immediately pay off the outstanding bank loan, with the remainder being used to fund work on 4160 and the transport of 4160 in a dismantled form to the West Somerset Railway at Minehead, arriving there in April 1990.
Prior to this at the West Somerset Railway, 4561 had been finished and had entered traffic in October 1989, hauling a special return to steam dinning train, using the WSRA’s Quantock Belle Dinning Train, with the restoration team as the invited guests of honour. The question then arose among the restoration gang of what would be tackled next? This was a matter of a relatively light overhaul required to be carried out on 3205 which it was estimated would take around 9 months to complete. There was also talk of assisting the Great Western 2-8-0 No 3850 or 4-6-0 Dinmore Manor, both of these were owned by a private company which was governed by a WSR plc volunteer Robin George, who was the WSRA committee’s locomotive officer. Mr George was becoming increasingly unpopular and due to the characters of people within the Iffey Rivet Company there were inevitable tensions.
Meanwhile Paul Johnson had spotted a potential opportunity for the future of 4160. Negotiations therefore began with the WSRA’s management through talks with John Pearce, the chairman and the respected treasurer Mrs Audrey Short, with a view to a joint funding exercise between the two organisations. An agreement was reached in principal. At this point it should be remembered that Plym Valley Railway group had already invested a considerable amount of time and money in the purchase and restoration of 4160.
It was now up to Paul to convince the 4160 Ltd original shareholders that it was a worthwhile idea to transfer 4160 to the West Somerset Railway to continue the restoration, 4160 Ltd board of directors were in agreement. To clarify the situation none of the directors of 4160 Ltd at this time were connected to WSRA or WSR plc.
So at the 4160 Ltd AGM in November 1989 in Plymouth, a resolution was put to the shareholders to move the 4160 to Minehead for further restoration. A heated debate then ensued at which several of the Plym Valley based shareholders voiced their strong objection to ‘their’ locomotive being taken away from the still largely underdeveloped Plym Valley site. However, the resolution was carried and so it only remained to work out the finer details of the move between the parties concerned which were WSRA , WSR plc and Plym Valley Railway. At the same AGM Paul Johnson was ratified as a director of 4160 Ltd.
Detailed negotiation between the parties concerned, which once arrived at were formally drawn up by a firm of Solicitors with company law experience.
To represent the WSRA’s interest in 4160 Ltd and to assist with good governance and financial advice Christopher Dowrick was appointed as a director of 4160 Ltd. Chris was a recently retired bank manager and a long standing director of the WSR plc.
At the end of 1989 the position of WSR plc chief mechanical engineer was offered to Andrew Foster, a leading member of the Iffey Rivet Company who took up his post in January 1990. A new and more forward looking era of locomotive engineering was thus begun in WSR, prior to 1989 the WSR workshop at Minehead did not even possess its own lathe. Also in the early 1990 WSR plc created a new salaried post of Managing Director, Mark Smith, who was a WSR volunteer, took up this new position in May 1990. Mark Smith had previously worked as a deputy headmaster in the Taunton area. Again a new era of WSR plc management was about to begin. The WSR plc was chaired at the time by Dennis Taylor, a retired director of a London based oil company. The WSR plc general manager was Doug Hill, he worked alongside Mark Smith to show him the day to day running of the railway, within the year Doug Hill had retired early by mutual agreement.
Meanwhile Paul Johnson had taken up a part time post as lecturer in Agricultural Engineering at Cannington College near Bridgewater, he was living in the Weston Super Mare area in early 1990 with his partner Judith but later in that year moved nearer Williton.
Whilst living there Paul began his long association with line-side vegetation clearance on the WSR, starting at Stogumber with members of the Stogumber station group, who in those days consisted mainly of ex-members of the Dart Valley Railway. They were Richard Jones, Dick Wood, Tim Searle with the ‘new boy’ Ian Jonas, who went on to become a major influence in line-side clearance, which in 1990 was sadly lacking with large areas of the railway heavily overgrown after years of neglect. Once 4160 was on site at Minehead work began in earnest on the restoration, with the driving wheels being sent to Swindon for re-profiling, and the frames were set up for realignment/horn block refurbishment.
Peter Gransden of Didcot was contacted to undertake the re-staying and patch screwing of the boiler on site in Minehead, he lodged at hotel Paul Johnson, travelling to and from Didcot very appropriately by rail as he does not drive. The loco’s wheel sets were despatched to what was left of the operating works at Swindon under the auspices of the legendary and somewhat overambitious Ken Ryder and his foreman, old Swindonian, Bill Jefferies. Paul Johnson was as usual arranging this work and the transport but once the wheels were ready to return to Minehead, Paul Connibeares’ impatience seems to have got the better of him and he was not content to wait until suitable return transport was available and without consultation with Paul Johnson organised the transport. Unfortunately with a non rail experienced contractor from Bridgewater. This resulted in the wheels being loaded and roped down incorrectly on the lorry so that the sharp edges of the flanges on one pair of wheels rubbed and bumped into the finely machined surfaces of the axel box journals on another wheel set. The result was large deep groves which had to be dressed out as best he could by another old gentleman of the WSR and beyond, Don Haynes, assisted by Paul Johnson. This took many hours of delicate judicious filing and copious amounts of emery cloth.
Restoration continued alongside the work on 3205 but was hampered by lack of funds, so the WSRA promoted the funding of the restoration through their quarterly journal and agreed to purchase in the WSR’s name a special class of share. The West Somerset Railway Steam Trust also agreed to buy a batch of ordinary shares, with the money going specifically towards the boiler overhaul. Once 3205 had been finished in June 1990 all effort reverted to 4160. Paul Johnson had spent much of the spring working week days on 3205 concentrating on the cladding, the copper pipe work and the renewal of the cab floor.
During the early stage of the work on 4160 Paul Johnson was managing the work with oversight and advice from Andrew Foster, the new WSR Chief Engineer. The Iffey Rivet work team had grown to some 20 people on a Saturday and usually 12 on a Sunday and the same again on Wednesday evening, usually under the supervision of Paul Connibeare. All went well until the funds were unable to keep pace with the rate of progress achieved by the restoration team! One of the things Paul Johnson was doing on behalf of 4160 was arranging the batch manufacture of various castings and components, selling the surplus items to GW loco restoration groups. This had the dual advantage of making the company a small profit as well as providing the much needed parts for 4160, additionally it helped foster good relations with many other GW loco groups, many of whom are still friends with Paul Johnson today. This form of fund raising was not appreciated by Paul Connibeare at the time and he made his feelings known to the other 4160 directors and ‘his team’ of workers complaining that Paul Johnson was wasting the company’s money.
There were lighter moments when the team would all head for The Hobby Horse pub on the sea front for the excellent food and beer, under the ownership of the late Tony Saunders, this was also the venue for many of the 4160 AGM’s. The Wives And Girl friend’s of the ‘team’ were forced to frequent the pub too, in order to spend quality time with their other halves, amongst these were Paul Johnson’s Judith and Paul Connibeare’s Anna.
During the winter of 1991 Paul Johnson worked part time for Henry Williams who was the contractor installing the level crossing and new signalling system on the Seaward Way Relief Road, this was being built by Somerset County Council at the Taunton end of the Minehead Station. Two of the contract staff, Tom McClarnon and Steve Harris lodged at Paul Johnson’s house during this time. Others on the team were Brian Hooper, Fred Reed, and the much respected ex-BRWS&T Engineers, John Madley and Vic Dodswell both now sadly departed. Following Robin White’s resignation from Bristol Temple Meads Station, where he was a junior manger, he then became WSR Plc’s Operating Superintendent for 18 months. Robin was also involved in the developments at Williton Station, he was also working with the late but still legendry Chris van den Arend.
About this time there was probably the worst shunting mishap the WSR has ever seen. The Operating Superintendent was carrying out a shunt of stock into the bay platform one sunny summer evening, the driver of the class 14 loco was the ever tactful Hein Burger (The Flying Dutchman). Hein was propelling the set back into the bay with gusto, Paul Johnson who was disposing the S&D No 88(53808 as it was then), had a ringside seat in the loco pit. He witnessed the whole incident in sickening slow motion, completely unable to intervene. It transpires The Flying Dutchman had lost sight of Robin White’s calling back signals in the bright setting sunlight, completely misjudging the train’s length and continued propelling the seven carriage train backwards towards the buffer stops at a determined steady pace, even though Robin White was shouting and waving like someone possessed imploring the Flying Dutchman to stop. The inevitable happened and the rear carriage duly hit the buffers, a large wood beam attached to the bay platform end wall, and smashed the whole lot out towards the car park taking with it the newly built Catering Store complete with its concrete base. This Catering Store was recently erected by the colourful Terry ‘Nine Elms’ Potter. The carriage then rose up, body parting from the bogie, and continued its journey out into the carpark by half its length before finally coming to rest at a steeply inclined angle, only narrowly avoiding demolishing the end of the bay platform canopy. Paul Johnson stood helplessly only a 100ft away in utter disbelief at the chaos and destruction that unfolded before his eyes.
In lighter moments, Paul Johnson was often out and about with the much missed and never to be forgotten David ‘3205’ Rouse, in the old Bedford CF white van and usually in a hired 7.5 ton lorry to places such as Margam, South Wales for various DMU spares, Swindon Works in its final death throws for all sorts of GWR related goodies, Newton Abbot Depot for an old sand drier and even Brighton Preston Park to view an old Rod Tender. David wanted to restore the old Tender to run behind 3205, the tender is still in store at the South Devon Railway, awaiting restoration.
Along with David Rouse another WSR stalwart was Martin Witcher of Williton who has now passed away, others who were around at the time were Earl Marsh, Rob Lindley and Ken (Scoucer) Steel.
4160 Enters Traffic
At the 1991 AGM the Iffey Rivet Company turned up in force, many had purchased shares in the company. They had declared their intention to paint 4160 in BR lined black livery, completely in contravention of every previously agreed intention of the early Plymouth based shareholders, who had wanted the loco turned out in the original early hybrid GW/BRW unlined green. Needless to say these democratic intentions to paint the loco green did not stand in the way of the Iffey Rivet Company member’s insistence to paint the loco black. To underline their non-negotiable intent they all turned up in black sweatshirts with the 4160 logo on the front. This situation prompted the board to write to every single shareholder and ask them to vote on the colour of the loco, the majority vote was for plain BR green livery. In direct defiance of the 4160 board and the majority of the shareholders the engine was finished in black, this goes to show the lack of control and authority the 4160 Ltd board had over the Iffey Rivet Company at that time.
At the same AGM there was a late announcement of a nomination proposing that Andy Chatwin become a member of 4160 board, Andy was a member of the Iffey Rivet Company and had worked on the engine, the late chairman, Malcolm Rowe allowed the proposal to go through.
At about this time Malcolm Rowe was becoming increasingly concerned together with Paul Johnson about the lack of control that the board had over the Iffey Rivet Company and so the direction of the restoration. This situation did not help the failing health of Malcolm Rowe, and Mike Crees became involved as an unofficial advisor to Paul and Malcolm at this trying time. Malcolm Rowe asked Mike Crees to become his alternate Chairman on the 4160 board to be his ears and eyes as his failing heath prevented him from attending meetings. In order for Mike to get a feel for the situation that Paul and Malcolm found themselves in, Mike listened to all the tape recordings of previous meetings, this enabled Mike to have an in depth understanding of the situation. The first board meeting that Mike attended consisted of Andy Chatwin, Paul Johnson, Chris Dowrick, Dennis Armstrong and Paul Connibeare. Mike asked Paul Connibeare when the loco was scheduled to be completed and was told it was maybe expected to be some seven to eight weeks.
Very shortly after this meeting, it was therefore, a great surprise to Mike Crees when he found that the restored 4160 had actually been test run from the restoration site at Minehead! Mike immediately contacted Paul Johnson who knew nothing about this, he also asked Chris Dowrick and Andy Chatwin who also stated they were ignorant of this important event. Further investigation revealed that Andrew Foster, the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the WSR Plc was not on the footplate of the engine, it appears that it was only volunteers that were present on the loco for this first test run.
Although the board did not know about this test run they in their positions as Directors were ultimately responsible for the actions of the volunteers who took it upon themselves to test run the newly restored engine without seeking permission of the board to do so. If an incident had happened with a member of the general public at any of the level crossings that they passed the liability would have fallen on the individual members of the 4160 board. This situation could not continue. Mike Crees immediately reported this back to Malcolm Rowe trying not to worry him unduly as he was very sick. An urgent meeting was then held between Chris Dowrick and Mike Crees, Chris Dowrick was at the time the Plc Treasurer. One of the questions put to Chris Dowrick by Mike was ‘Were the volunteers covered by the Plc Public Liability insurance if no Plc employee were present at the time’? Chris Dowrick was shocked by these events and could not answer the question and agreed that this situation could not continue. It was now beyond doubt that the Iffey Rivet Gang were totally out of control and must be stopped.
Previously to this incident, there had been other events which showed that the Iffey Rivet Gang were continuing with their demands. One demand, made by Paul Connibeare was that 4160 Ltd should give the restoration team £500 per month for consumables and incidentals, it must be paid into an independent bank account with the only signatories being Paul Connibeare and Dennis Armstrong. Paul Connibeare then suggested that Dennis Armstrong attend Board Meetings to be a conduit of information between the board and the restoration team.
Mike Crees then had a meeting with Malcolm Rowe where he asked for authority in writing from Malcom to remove the restoration team. Whilst there was sterling restoration work done by some members of the team, there was undoubtedly an out of control element within the team, who appeared to be controlling the 4160 board. Mike was very conscious of the fact that he did not want to blame everyone for the failings of a few so he would only exercise this authority with great care. As the situation progressed it was not necessary to use this authority as the engine transferred from the restoration team to the Plc under a hire agreement in only a few weeks.
Within a short time other mechanical problems were to face the board of 4160 Ltd. Paul Johnson and Mike Crees decided that it would be advantageous at this stage for 4160 to be inspected by a qualified locomotive inspector before it went into traffic, due to the unstructured nature of the restoration work that had been carried out. This was done by Bob Judge who was an ex-BR locomotive inspector.
The report uncovered some very worrying problems. Fifty percent of the horn ties were loose and worn, this should have been one of the first things to be reconditioned when the frames were rebuilt making the unofficial running of the engine even more worrying. Mike Crees and Paul Johnson then had a meeting with Andrew Foster and Chris Dowrick to discuss a possible solution as the Plc wanted the loco into traffic as soon as possible. Andy Foster suggested he could shim the worn horn ties therefore taking up the wear, this would allow the engine to go into traffic with the proviso that it must be inspected every week and any play taken up. This was August so there were only a few months to go before the end of the season. Mike and Paul were not entirely happy with this situation. Mark Smith wanted this engine in traffic as soon as practically possible. Someone had told BBC radio about these problems and Mike Crees and Mark Smith were interviewed on BBC radio about these event, both put a positive light on the situation.
At end of the season when the engine came out of traffic Paul Johnson and Morris Johnson, an outside contractor who was no relation, removed individually the horn ties building them up and machining them to get them to be a snug fit. This was not an easy job in the cold and wet conditions of the engine shed at Minehead.
(to come the first ten years of a new life for 4160)