A former Devon steam engine has returned 'home' again this week after an absence of nearly 60 years as a surprise guest visiting loco at the South Devon Railway (SDR) where it will be running for two weeks in October.
British Railways 1952-built Ivatt Class 2 Prairie No. 41312 arrived at the SDR on Tuesday 2 October fresh from the West Somerset Railway's autumn steam gala.
The Ivatt 'Mickey Mouse' is needed in order to provide emergency steam engine cover for resident SDR loco No. 6412 which is going away to Shackerstone for their 12/13 Oct gala as planned, and also because SDR engine No. 5786/L92 is still awaiting completion of boiler re-tubing and out of commission temporarily. These trains were nick named Mickey Mouse tanks due to the placing of route indicator discs either side of the smokebox that then looked like ears.
Following a test run on Tuesday, it entered service yesterday and will run every day today until 14 October, before leaving on 16 October when No. 6412 returns.
It's the first time that this type of popular little steam loco, once a common sight on now closed railway branch lines in North Devon and into Cornwall has been back in the county since it was last shedded at Barnstaple Junction in North Devon in the 1960's! Welcome home, Mickey!