Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of the Groudle Glen Railway
. My favourite steam locomotive in the world is Sea Lion, the lines first loco, still going strong over 100 years later.
Well, we say still going strong, but at the time of writing, she's undergoing a serious restoration after some boiler problems. While being worked on, it was found that her tanks, put on in 1986 during the first major restoration by BNFL apprentices, were too far gone. A new set has been fabricated, along with a new cab back and loads of other bits.
What to do with the old parts? Rather than keep them kicking around the shed, the Groudle decided to put them on eBay.
Where I saw them.
Now, this provoked a terrible dilemma. Thanks to a tax refund that I still don't understand but HMRC assure me is correct, I could comfortably afford to buy them. You couldn't flog me bits from Flying Scotsman, but Sea Lion, oh boy, I wanted these.
But what on earth would I do with them? I've got enough stuff in store. There was also the issue of picking them up. The auction specified collection and the GGR isn't easy to get to by road. I could have spent more money hiring a van (they are too large for a car apparently) and ferry fares than buying the metalwork! Just so I could own something, it didn't seem right.
The solution came via the very helpful Mike Buttell and the Isle of Man Heritage Volunteers - Steam Railway group
. I met and interviewed Mike when over a couple of months ago
so dropped him a line to see if there would be a chance of adding them to the displays in Port Erin steam museum.
It turns out there was. Not only that, the railway were happy to collect. All I had to do was win the auction - which I had taken the precaution of checking was genuine. A bit of late night nervous bidding and I won!
A couple of weeks ago, the cab back and tank (I'm assuming by the way that the other tank is
staying on the GGR) were loaded onto a wagon and trundled to the road access point halfway along the line. From there, they were taken to the museum to be seen for the first time at the last "Night at the Museum" event.
In due course, they will form a proper display in time for next years season. Technically, they are on loan - if the museum decides they don't want them, I'll hire that van and take them away. Placing an exhibit on long-term loan to a museum has always been an ambition anyway, so that's another ticked off.
Thanks to Mike and museum guys for doing all the hard work. I'm looking forward to heading to Manx land next year to see what I bought and am so pleased to have been able to do my little bit to make this happen.