A wide variety of steam and diesel-powered locomotives and railcars
have provided motive power on the Lambourn Valley Railway.
In addition to the two engines
commissioned by the LVR – before the GWR's acquisition of the
undertaking – during the early years, a small Sharp Stewart 2-4-0 tank
engine no. 1384, which was originally built for the Watlington &
Princes Risborough Railway in 1875, was rented from the GWR and gave
the newly-formed LVR company a breathing space until its own power
units could be purchased.
The next hurdle for the officers of the
LVR to overcome would be the purchase of their own motive power. The
continued locomotive hire charges of the GWR were a drain on resources
and could not be allowed to continue on an open-ended basis. By May
1898, following advice from Mr. MacIntyre, Colonel Archer-Houblon
signed an agreement with Chapman and Furneaux of Gateshead to build two
locomotives for the LVR, The price agreed was £1,330 each. Both
locomotives arrived in October and were named Aelfred and Ealhswith,
names that were synonymous with Lambourn's historical past. Aelfred
started work hauling passenger services for the first time on the 18th
of October 1898.
It was ordered that a plate be fixed in
the cab of each engine stating: "This engine is the property of Colonel
Archer Houblon of Welford Park Newbury".
Aelfred and Ealhswith were identical
0-6-0 side-tank locos. Both engines were painted in a dark blue livery
with black lining edged in white, and nameplates mounted on the side
tanks. The drivers spoke favourably of the engines although they did in
fact suffer a few gremlins in the early days of use. Aelfred for
instance was reported to"run warm" and was also for some time, the
victim of leaking tubes. The engineer from Chapman and Furneaux spent
time on site repairing the faults, and within a few weeks the locos
were working fine. At this point, the final payment of £660 was made to
The first full year of operation
produced an overall profit just short of a £1,000, although this did
not take into consideration the payment due to Col. Archer Houblon
under the terms of their agreement. In December 1902, despite the
company's precarious financial position, the directors decided to
purchase a third locomotive. It would be built by the Hunslet
Engine Company from Leeds and would be of similar design to
Aelfred and Ealhswith.
The LVR was offered deferred payments by the manufacturer and Eadweade
arrived in the Spring of 1903. It was perfect timing in fact, as
Ealhswith was now in great need of overhaul, which was undertaken by
the GWR at a cost of £276. The LVR brake van also needed major repairs, work that was carried out by the Plenty's, of Newbury.
||In 1904, the GWR offered to rent two railmotors
to the LVR for the total sum of £420 per year. The idea seemed an
attractive one and the LVR decided in favour of the proposed plan.
After grouping in 1923, the GWR ex-Midland and South Western Junction
Railway 2-4-0 tender engines, originally numbered 10, 11 and 12 but
renumbered by the GWR to 1334-1336, were frequently employed on the
Lambourn line until their withdrawal in 1952.
Other visitors included 0-6-0 pannier
tanks during the 1930s, and even a then-new 48xx 0-4-2 tank engine, a series subsequently renumbered as the 14xx series. This
engine worked horsebox specials in connection with Newbury race
In 1932, the ex-Cambrian 0-6-0 tender
engine no. 908 helped haul coaches and goods, and in 1936 and again in
1938-9, a pair of class 850 0-6-0 saddle tank locos, nos 1925 and 2007,
worked the branch on alternate weeks. Although transferred off the
branch early in WW2, they were seen as particularly suited to the
branch's sharp curves and steep gradients.
After the ex-MSWJ locos were withdrawn,
steam workings were taken over by Dean Goods 0-6-0 tender engines, with
no. 2573 a frequent visitor until its withdrawal in 1953. The class had
been used previously in emergencies but restricted to 15mph on goods
trains and 25mph on passenger workings. The regulations were
subsquently relaxed to allow engines of the yellow route restruction
group to work the branch, after which members of the Collett 22xx class
joined the branch, in particular 2208, 2245 and 2299.
Auto-coaches were used on the branch but
never for the purpose for which they were originally designed: no
push-pull locos were ever employed on the line.