Chris Proudfoot and Tony Massau of the 82045 Trust kindly answered some questions about the project.
When did project start, and how? Why a 3MT?
Tony: The project started around 1998 by a volunteer fireman at the South Devon Railway, and I became a member of the 82045 project. By 2003 he decided that he had too many commitments and asked me if I would take over the project. I agreed to see what could be done and managed to get the scheme accepted on the Severn Valley Railway although self funded etc.
We feel a modern 2-6-2 tank engine is an ideal type for many of the UK’s heritage lines. It should be remembered that a lot of these railways run daily services from Spring to Autumn, marketed at Joe Public having a steam train ride during a day out. Whilst there are often plenty of volunteers helping to run these railways at weekends, it is often a different story during the week and a Monday-to-Friday driver and fireman are often on their own in preparing the loco, operating it all day and then disposing in the evening. Therefore an engine that has all the modern aids such as outside valve gear for ease of oiling, rocking grate, and hopper ashpan is most attractive, as is being able to drive from the seated position.
What’s the estimated total cost for the completion of the loco? How much have you raised, and how much remains to go?
Chris: We think it may be possible to build 82045 for just under the million thanks to the considerable volunteer input. We’ve raised approximately £800,000 to date and I estimate we will need about another £100,000 over and above what we have in the kitty or guaranteed to come in over the next two years.
The website and news updates are very high quality – did you make a conscious decision to prioritise that? What benefits has it brought?
Chris: We were very lucky with the website as our webmaster, Paul Bennett, offered us his services at an early juncture and is a wonderfully helpful chap. I wrote most of the text for the various sections, and we are very strict about keeping the monthly reports up to date: Tony, Barbara and myself produce notes towards the end of every month. We have been told on many occasions that the quality of the website is one significant reason why people are attracted to the project.
What’s your fundraising strategy – what kind of person is donating the money, how do you find them, what are the revenue streams?
Chris: The bulk of our fundraising is sourced among the wider membership of the Severn Valley Railway, since we have been closely tied in with the SVR from the start, although we are 100% independent.
Revenue streams can be divided as follows:
- monthly standing orders (our rock and cornerstone)
- Gift Aid
- VAT refunds
- one-off donations including sponsorship of parts
- spikes following a bout of publicity
- special events on the SVR (we don’t go anywhere else – experience has proved it’s not worth it)
- sales stand revenue.
We have all sorts of supporters, from donors of large sums of money to those who contribute by monthly standing order. Advertising in the hobby press, in the form of an article backed up with an appeal leaflet, produces a very good response. Best friends here are SVR News and Steam Railway.
How big are the active members? Who does the work on the locomotive?
Tony: We have our own team of retired engineers so do as much of the work as possible ourselves. Numbers vary a little from one week to another due to other commitments, but it is not unusual for about twelve to be working on the loco.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome so far? How significant over the long term did the copper theft of a few years ago prove to be in the end?
Chris: Biggest obstacle so far was antipathy in the early days, something which I’m happy to say evaporated as it became clear we really meant business!
The copper theft, while distressing at the time, did not set the project back too much.
It used to seem that making new boilers from scratch in the UK was unachievable, but numerous projects are now doing it. Your boiler is essentially being assembled at the SVR as I understand it, with the fabrication of at least some components outsourced – how much of a step up is that from work that’s been done there previously?
Tony: The boiler is being made from scratch in the UK. It is not such a huge step up from repair work already carried out at various steam repair centres. Some repairs that have been carried out have been very extensive, so the skills are there.
There are occasional passing mentions online of the possibility of further 3MTs to follow – is there anything to this? Or would you like to do another locomotive entirely, as some groups have already committed to?
Tony: Whilst we have said that a batch production run of class 3 tank locos might be an idea it is not for us to undertake it. Some of our group are of an age that we intend to retire properly once 82045 is completed.
There seems to be quite a well established community of groups building, restoring or running BR standard locomotives – is that the case, and how useful or important has it been if so?
Tony: There is an umbrella organisation for BR Standard locos called the BR Standard Locomotive Owners Group, and it is very helpful in exchanging information and other practical help.
Photos by Tony Massau, courtesy of the 82045 Steam Locomotive Trust.