The Weston Clevedon and Portishead Railway was a 13 3/4 mile standard gauge light railway in North Somerset opened in 1897 between Weston Super Mare and Clevedon, the extension to Portishead being completed in 1907. The company was unable to support the debt incurred by the last extension and the line was in the hands of the receiver from 1909. The receiver appointed light railways specialist Colonel Holman Stephens to manage the WC&PR and, following Stephens death in 1931, his former deputy W H Austen took over this role until closure.
Operated on a shoestring the line ran through level but sparsely-populated countryside, though provided the only direct link between the coastal towns and communities, the GWR lines being further inland and needing a passenger to change trains, often at least twice, to complete a journey 'along the coast'. Most of the locomotives and rolling stock were bought second-hand from various sources, a varied collection notable for including open balcony coaches and early petrol railcars trialled by the Southern.
Despite the economies permitted by the Light Railways act and effected through the use of petrol railcars in place of steam locomotives for many passenger services the line never managed to emerge from receivership and, not having been included in the lines deemed essential for wartime use, closed on the 18th of May 1940.
The railway owned a variety of locomotives, choice being restricted by the receivers' desire for absolute minimal expenditure to keep the railway operating and the lines' maximum axle load limit of just 10 tons. Latterly the principal locomotives were two ex-LB&SCR/SR 'Terrier' 0-6-0 tank engines, numbered 2 and 4.
This model recreates Weston Clevedon & Portishead Railway No. 4 as running in the late 1930s.
The WC&Ps' second 'Terrier', No.4 was constructed as LB&SCR No.53 Ashtead. Rebuilt to A1X in 1912 the engine was also fitted with the air-controlled regulator gear for working pull-push or motor trains. Out of service on the Southern in 1937 when W H Austen was seeking another locomotive for the WC&PR she arrived under her own steam in Maunsell era Southern livery, described by the lines' historians as mid green with black edging and white lining. The company's initials were added to the side tanks at Clevedon shed in chrome yellow letters using stencils created for lettering the coaches, the letters forming an arc over the number.
Like many Terriers LB&SCR 53 has an interesting history, having been the first Terrier to receive the new 2000 series numbers but being stored by the mid-1930s, one source suggesting it lacked wheels and motion when inspected by W H Austen, having donated these parts to speed the overhaul of a sister Terrier. Following some financial shenanigans to meet the receivers expenditure limits SR 2353 received a full overhaul before being despatched under it's own steam via Salisbury to the GWR and thence onward to Clevedon.
At closure GWR accepted the WC&PRs rolling stock as settlement for payments due to them, the usable rolling stock consisting principally the two Terrier locomotives. The engines were used to recover 'stranded' wagons, re-usable materials and scrap metal from the WC&P line, the larger company having no alternative locomotive light enough to safely traverse the light railways bridges. The WC&P had purchased one of the GWRs few lightweight locomotives, number 1384, many years previously, though this engine did prove too much for a WC&P bridge near the companys' wharf in 1934!
Becoming GWR no.6 ex-WC&P No.4 is believed to have been allocated to Bristol St Phillips Marsh shed and used on temporary military camps around the Bristol area, as one of the few engines the GWR was willing to risk on temporary track! Some sources suggest she was also sent to work at a Ministry of Supply depot in the Nottingham area, though details of wartime workings were carefully censored and both Terriers could be found at Bristol in the post-war period. The engines were used as shed pilots at St Phillips Marsh, around the Bristol docks and the many small goods yards across the city. One of them was loaned to Frys at Keynsham while the chocolate factorys' own Sentinel was out of service, being the only type available small enough to negotiate the curves in the factory complex.
Though nominally of the same class as WC&PR 2 'Portishead' (GWR 5) number 4 was actually less powerful than her sister engine, having had lined cylinders fitted along with air-control system for pull-push train working and GWR 5 was withdrawn in 1948, possibly donating parts to keep her sister running. GWR 5 Portishead remaining in service until 1954.
Due to limitations of the Dapol tooling it prevented the fitting of the condensing pipes in the production stage. A pair of condensing pipes and extra vacuum brake pipes are supplied with the model, along with photographs showing the positioning on these. We have a supply of additional pipes for fitting below the buffer beam to replicate the air control connections and can forward a set on request, however fitting these extra pipes will make access to the coupling very difficult, so will likely be suitable for a static display model only.
Weston, Clevedon & Portishead Railway, Christopher Redwood
Weston Clevedon & Portishead Railway Pictorial Record, Peter Strange
With thanks to the Colonel Stephens museum, Tenterden Station (K&ESR).