Foxcote manor -
From Rescue to Resurection.
In this section we look at the life of Foxcote Manor post Barry Scrapyard where thanks to the Foxcote Manor Society and Dai Woodham she escaped the dreaded cutters torch.
In 1972 the FMS was formed, their role was to save the engine from Barry scrapyard where she had been standing for 9 years exposed to the sea elements and inclement South Wales weather. The plan was to overhaul 7822 to a standard where she could be run again hauling passenger trains in a world where steam preservation was growing.
After the purchase 7822 returned to her former stomping ground at Oswestry to begin overhaul. Former Foxcote Manor Society member Chris Warburton told me that "the first job was to strip her down to her component parts, no mean feat given that every nut and stay was completely oxidised".
However its just what they did, stripping her down and laying everything down in the order it came off as to those that had never stripped a loco down that was completely rusty it was hard to know what each bit was! Progress continued but 7822 needed a permanent indoor home for the overhaul to gather pace and everything be reassembled and the boiler completed. The society settled for the Llangollen Railway into a new home in 1985 and erected purpose built shed for her overhaul and shelter which is now the very busy boiler shop at Llangollen.
7822 stalwart Alasdair Rodgers says of the overhaul "Today we have heritage restoration bases with the skills readily available to us for a price, in the 1970's and 1980's we had nothing and we had to learn to do it all ourselves!". It was the tail end of the 1980's before we saw the Manor in service, the infrastructure work done on the Llangollen Railway afforded her a few miles to stretch her legs on. She emerged from the Manor Shed in 1987 painted in BR lined green livery with a ten year boiler ticket.
As the reputation of Llangollen railway grew so did the reputation of the Manor, she hauled trains at all events and on Good Friday 1990 famously hauled the first passenger train to reach Deeside Loop since the closure of the line in 1965. The manor had become part of the fabric at Llangollen Railway, and her reliability was fundamental in developing the growth of the line.
7822 continued to work into the 1990's before she was placed out of service for scheduled overhaul in 1998, it was a quick turnaround which saw her back running in 1999. The overhaul cost many thousands of pounds.
This shot was given to me by Peter Bowers and shows Foxy at Berwyn Station on the 9th April 1988. This was Foxcote Manors comeback special, on her relaunch following overhaul.
Her next overhaul was scheduled at the end of the boilers ten year ticket, this afforded 7822 the chance to participate in Steel Steam and Stars 1 alongside engines like the Dukedog No. 9017, an engine class that would have shared the lines across Wales in the 1960's.
In 2008 she went back into the shed and would not be seen running for almost 3 years. When 7822 returned it was at the Spring Steam Gala in Llangollen with the aim of seeing double headed Manor's recreating trains of the early 90's at Llangollen. Unfortunately 7812 "Erlestoke Manor" was unable to make an appearance on that occasion as planned but Foxcote Manor was ready in the nick of time and stole the show (not just because we are biased).
Following her comeback in 2011, Foxy was running regularly at Llangollen with a visit to the North Yorkshire Moors in late 2011, receiving running repairs along the way of course. The work of the volunteer members and the skill of the fitters at Llangollen kept maintenance work well under control. Matt Davies led a project in 2012 to tidy up the bottom end of the tender while the wheels went away for new tyres, other repairs have included work on 7822's boiler, pistons and valves.
In late 2013, following a highly enjoyable visit to the West Somerset Railway and the Avon Valley Railway, Foxcote was pulled from traffic with a cracked throatplate. Assessments at Llangollen showed that the original plate was cracked on both sides and a new plate would need to be produced and fitted. NDT tests showed that the shoulders of the backplate were also showing signs of fatigue and new pieces would need to be riveted over the affected areas.
This was a major blow to the society still trying to build finances after an overhaul costing over £250,000. The pot was soon emptied and a long period of fundraising took place to get her back. Having her sat silent in the shed just isn't an option!
With a mix of volunteers and paid staff, the engine was repaired with the new throatplate, patched backhead, new tubes in the boiler and a fresh coat of BR Unlined Black with red applied to the buffer beams and inside motion.
7822 returned to traffic on April 2nd 2016, with a members special train to thank everyone for their donations, it was the first time a Manor would reach the town of Corwen in over 50 years, a momentous occasion indeed.
2016 saw visits to the Keighley and Worth Valley, and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway before a return to Llangollen Railway for the Winter.
Here it was decided that the locomotive was in need of a rebore and new valve heads. The work was undertaken and the locomotive then moved on to the Kent and East Sussex Railway for what was meant to be a short visit. Unfortunately the loco failed there with valve problems. New valves were made and the locomotive completed its obligations two months late before moving on to the West Somerset Railway.
It was decided after much fettling on the loco to stay at the West Somerset to try and recoup the losses of 2017, and she ran there throughout the 2018 season. She achieved a record for herself in terms of running in 2018, running at the WSR and visiting the Mid Hants Railway for the first time too. She completed 161 days in steam, a massive amount compared to previous years.
Foxy spent the first 6 months of 2019 at Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham, having a full bottom end overhaul. A massive undertaking which required the skill and labour of TLW's staff and as many volunteers as the FMS could muster. The society is indebted to trustee, Martin Fuller for his outstanding skill and dedication. His role should not be understated.
7822 then returned to the West Somerset Railway for the latter part of the Summer season.
7822 has now returned to the Llangollen Railway for a 6 month return home, and it is expected that she will then return to the WSR for the summer season.
ABOVE: Foxcote Manor undergoing her first preservation overhaul, with her own shed being built around her at the time. Copyright Bill Shakespeare.
ABOVE: Foxcote Manors last day in service before overhaul on 12th October 2008. Copyright John Rutter.
ABOVE : A shot from John Rutter showing the Manor "mid maintenance" in Llangollen MPD, note the missing piston!