I was very interested in the article in the current Steam Railway regarding the latest reconstruction of the Lewin No.18 as I supplied the copies of the Works photographs of the engine as No.683 which I believe were used to carry out the rebuild to its 1877 appearence. I “rediscovered” the originls as a schoolboy in the hands of a decedent of Tarrant who was Lewin’s Works Manager during the time locomotives were being built at the Poole Foundry and still have the copy negatives which were also used in the 1978 book on Lewin by Wear and Lees. I was lucky enough to see the Lewin at Seaham in the mid 60s and am very pleased to see it back to life again. Michael Hardy, Brentwood, Essex
Many thanks for posting your comment. I am very interested in the continued existence of the copies of the images – I had always wondered where the curators here had found them in the 1970s. Have you ever had them re-scanned with modern digital equipment? The reason I ask is that I will in due course produce a monograph on No.18 as part of a part-work transport guide for the collection here and I would love to be able to scrutinise such views in more detail (and even use them in the booklet) – there are certain things that aren’t clear, one being the number of holes in the driving wheels – Wear and Lees repro suggests that an additional hole was added to each wheel at Seaham, for instance. I am also interested in views of Ant, Bee, Hops, Malt and Lindholme – as we are developing a project to build a replica of Samson (for many years thought to be the first Lewin locomotive, of 1874) but only have one image and a couple of engravings to go on. Therefore looking at near-contemporary engines from the same builder is a very important part of the archaeology for this project as we stare deeply into the shadows on various published images!
I hope you will be able to see No.18 at work at Beamish at some point, and we might even have the first bits of Samson to show next April when we open our new workshop complex as part of the Great North Festival of Transport.
Best wishes, Paul
Keeper of Transport
I have just revisited an old Bradford Barton book of 1976 “Industrial Steam” and there is an illustration of No 18 on page 7 stating the build date as 1863. Any idea why the discrepancy with your record showing 1877?
That was one of the books that helped perpetuate the myth! Lewin’s first locomotive appeared around 1874, just pre-dating Samson in fact. There was a certain claim that No.18 was the oldest loco still at work in industry in the country during the late 1960s – in fact the Black Hawthorn ‘Wellington’ (working at the quarry at Wirksworth as reserve engine) took the record, being built in 1873. Other publications have suggested 1865, or 1875 but the work of Russell Wear and Eric Lees pretty much proved it was 1877 (they are the authors of the book on Stephen Lewin and his Poole foundry). Even books recently published still perpetuate the incorrect date, which is pretty annoying as there is no shortage of information on the locomotive available. There are two articles in the ‘downloads/articles’ section of this site if you want to read more on the history and restoration of No.18. In due course there is a books worth of info, probably in combination with the other Colliery locos. Very much on the ‘one day’ list however! Kind regards, Paul
Are there any books outlining the transport development of the museum?
When i first visited about 1985, i believe the Rowley station line originally connected to the colliery. This sparked my early interest in the railway development of the site. Having visited again last year and seeing all the excellent work underway from a transport perspective (tramway, railway, trolleybus and waggonway) it has heightened my interest in the historical development of the transport facilities as a whole.
I know of one book, ‘Beamish 40 years on the rails’ by Middleton Press, But are there others, perhaps more up to date or plans for any?
I’ve had a look about but apologies if I missed it anyway. I’m wondering if there are any plans available for the No. 17 Coffee Pot that operated at Seaham. I’m hoping to model it in it’s full cab form but the only reference I have for it is this photo-
Is there anymore documentation on it? Happy to make a donation in exchange.
Hi Steve – there aren’t any drawings that I know of for No.17 and to date the research that I have done on it has not been published. There are only the two images known of it complete with cab, which I would guess dates from the 1890s – the locomotive was presumably supplied sans cab and the engine works added it later – the style and hallmarks are very much in keeping with other locomotive work the Seaham Harbour Engine Works built in the period. I have always wondered if the cab windows were later re-used on No.18 (the rear face ones). You are welcome to make an appointment to measure No.17 – it is worth being aware that it is now shorter than it used to be! Perhaps as a result of a collision the frames were trimmed back, but the result is the tank sitting on blocks to clear the springs, rather than on the footplate itself (which was also replaced). I have a large number of photographs of No.17 take through the years, but as I say, just two with the cab fitted. There is also evidence of a steam brake being fitted to the front axle (separate from the handbrake that worked only on the rear one) – the reason was, I guess, to save the complication of compensating between hand/steam where there was restricted space on account of the boiler – so they kept them separate! The eccentric rods are curved for this reason – a very unusual feature.
In due course I would hope to see No.17 restored to the cabbed-condition, with the original length restored as well as those features identified through the photographs and study of the locomotive today. It is an interesting beast!
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