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The Isle of Wight Terrier Engines

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The Isle of Wight Steam Railway:
The Isle of Wight Terrier Engines | Adams O2 W24 Calbourne
W8 Freshwater on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway

When people think of steam engines, they usually remember the biggest and most powerful locomotives. Engines such as the Mallard or Flying Scotsman, ones capable of pulling the heaviest loads at the fastest speeds. Smaller engines, especially tank engines, are usually forgotten. Yet during the age of steam, the small railways on the Isle of Wight did not have powerful tender engines and instead small, second-hand tank engines exclusively hauled all services.

This is the story of a type of tank engine with strong Isle of Wight connections, the A1, nicknamed the Terrier. The Terrier was the workhorse on the Island's railway lines for the 50 years when the Isle of Wight's railway was at its height. They served from 1899 when the extension to Ventnor West, the final of the Isle of Wight's 55 miles of railway line and 36 stations, was being finished, to 1949, just before the first closure.

A1 'Terrier' Engines

The London, Brighton & South Coast Railway, commonly called the LBSCR, was formed in 1846 when five railway companies1 merged. It had railway lines from South London to Surrey and Sussex, including to resorts Brighton, Eastbourne and Worthing and the ports of Shoreham-by-Sea and Newhaven.

The A-class 0-6-0 tank engine was designed by William Stroudley in 1872. The LBSCR wanted to build six lightweight engines that could pull passenger trains along their lightly-laid lines around South London, especially between Victoria and London Bridge. These lines had been made quickly and cheaply and were initially unable to cope with larger, heavier engines. The Terrier engine proved so successful, reliable and versatile that 50, rather than the initial six, were made between 1872-1880, with 21 kept in a single shed at Battersea alone.

The A-class engines were soon nicknamed 'Terriers'. This not only reflected their small size but also the 'bark' noise made by their exhaust. While most steam engines make puff or chuff-chuff noises, a Terrier sounds more like Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!.

Despite their diminutive size, small even for other engines in the 1870s, they had power and fast acceleration that was ideal for frequently stopping commuter trains around South London. They soon worked on the East London Railway too, including through Marc Isambard Brunel's Thames Tunnel. Initially Terriers were named after London boroughs but as the engines found themselves working outside London, they were named after other towns served by the railway. The engines were given Brighton numbers between 35-84, although the LBSCR railway's numbering system put the Terriers in the order in which they replaced older numbered engines rather than consecutively. Thus the first Terrier built became number 72.

One engine, destined to be the Isle of Wight's W11 Newport, was exhibited at the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle, representing the LBSCR under the name 40 Brighton. There she made many display runs to demonstrate the effectiveness of her Westinghouse air brake system, and was awarded a gold medal for her design, workmanship and finish.

After 1880, the LBSCR's suburban track was relaid and enhanced, capable of being used by larger locomotives. In the early 20th Century, the LBSCR began electrifying their suburban lines and so steam engines, even ones as reliable as Terriers, were no longer required on these. The Terriers were gradually redistributed across the network and by the early 20th Century LBSCR decided that they only needed 15 Terriers, now known as the 'A1' class, and sold off many of the others, including to the Isle of Wight's railway companies.

From 1911-1930, many Terriers were reboilered and had their smokeboxes modified, with most given newer chimneys. These upgraded engines, following a design by DE Marsh, were classified as 'A1X'2 to differentiate them from the original unmodified 'A1' class.

DimensionsA1 A1X
Overall Length26'½"26'½"
Overall Height11'3"11'¾"
Weight24 tons28 tons

Terriers on the Isle of Wight

By the turn of the century there were four railway companies on the Isle of Wight: the Isle of Wight Central Railway3 or IWCR, the Isle of Wight Railway or IWR (1864)4, Freshwater, Yarmouth & Newport Railway or FYNR (1889) and Newport, Godshill & St Lawrence Railway (1897). The Isle of Wight Central Railway purchased four Terriers in 1899-1903, the four engines becoming the most numerous type of engine that that railway ever owned. In 1913 the Freshwater, Yarmouth & Newport Railway bought a Terrier to become their second locomotive. Southern Railway was formed in 1923, merging most of the railways in the south of England into one company. The five original Terriers on the Isle of Wight were joined by three more by 1930, although sadly the first was scrapped in 1926. All the terrier engines were shedded in Newport, used predominantly on the Freshwater and Ventnor West lines.

Remarkably, half of the Island's Terrier engines still survive today. The Terriers to serve on the Island were:

The two surviving Terriers still on the Isle of Wight shown in Bold.

NumberNameAlso Known AsBuiltOn Isle of WightFate
W9 75 Blackwall1872March 1899 - April 1926Scrapped 1926
W10Cowes69 Peckham1872April 1900 - May 1936Scrapped 1949
W9Fishbourne50 Whitechapel1876May 1930 - May 1936Preserved as 61 Sutton by the Borough of Sutton
W2, W8Freshwater46 Newington1877June 1913 - April 1949, June 1979+Preserved
W11Newport40 Brighton1878January 1902 - February 1947, January 1973+Preserved
W3, W13Carisbrooke77 Wonersh1880May 1927 - April 1949Scrapped 1960
W4, W14Bembridge78 Knowle1880May 1929 - May 1936Preserved by the Terrier Trust
W12Ventnor84 Crowborough1880November 1903 - May 1936Scrapped 1949

Unlike the Isle of Wight Railway, which named their engines after the towns and villages they served, the Isle of Wight Central Railway did not name their locomotives5 and so the first W9 did not have a name before being scrapped. Following the creation of Southern Railway the engines owned by the Isle of Wight Central Railway were also named after Isle of Wight towns and villages and given Isle of Wight numbers beginning with W. The Isle of Wight's numbering system was occasionally subject to change. As with other railways, the lowest numbers, typically 1-5, were reserved for the more prestigious engines. When four newer E1 engines were introduced to the Island between 1929-32, the existing engines numbered W1-W4 (including three Terriers) were renumbered to free these prized numbers for the newcomers.

On arrival to the Isle of Wight, the Terriers were modified to have an extended coal bunker. Able to hold 1½ tons, this allowed a much greater capacity than the original design. Most also had new chimneys fitted to match those of other engines on the Island. In the 1920s the Terriers were equipped with push-pull operation and steam heating, making them even more versatile. During 1930-6 there were seven Terriers in operation on the Island. The Ventnor West, Bembridge branch and Freshwater lines were their most common runs.

From the end of the 1930s the Island's branch lines were relayed and strengthened to allow the safe running of the larger London South West Railways (LSWR) O2 class, and so the Terriers were gradually withdrawn from the Island. As they had the larger coal bunker, the Island's Terriers were sought after elsewhere, in particular operating on the Hayling Island Billy Railway.


The fifth Terrier, completed in November 1872, was originally known as 75 Blackwall. In 1898 the Isle of Wight Central Railway purchased her as a replacement for their two ageing 1862 2-2-2 Slaughter Grünings well tank engines. This 26-year-old Terrier with 581,000 miles on the clock was bought for £800 and soon painted IWCR red. The engine immediately proved its worth and over the next four years three more Terriers were purchased by the IWCR.

W9 travelled over 321,500 miles on the Isle of Wight in her 27-year career on the Island before being scrapped in 1926 thanks to a faulty boiler and firebox failure.

W10 Cowes

The eighth Terrier built in 1874 and originally 69 Peckham, the IWCR bought her from LBSCR in 1899 for £700. With only 576,000 miles on the clock, she arrived on the Island in early 1900 and worked on the Island until 1936. Then she was sent to Eastleigh where she was stored and cannibalised to keep other surviving Terriers running until her remains were scrapped in 1949.

W11 Newport

W11 Newport is the Terrier that has been on the Island the longest and the only surviving engine to have served on the Isle of Wight Central Railway. The 37th Terrier built in 1878 and originally 40 Brighton, she was sent to the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle, arriving in France on 21 March. At the Exhibition she won a gold medal for her design, workmanship and finish. During 1878-94 she was used for experimental work to test new designs, initially by Stroudley, her designer, until his death from bronchitis at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle6, where he was exhibiting another of his locomotives. Yet by 1901, with a mileage of 522,500, the engine was no longer needed on the mainland.

At this time the IWCR were after a third Terrier and bought her for £600. Renamed Newport, she came to the Island in 1902 and was converted into an A1X in 1918. After over 45 years service, Newport left the Island in 1947.

Her name and number taken from her, she was renamed first 2640, then 32640 after 1951, and over the next few years spent time working around Winchester, Hayling Island, the Kent & East Sussex Railway (KESR), Newhaven, Fratton and Eastleigh before returning to Hayling Island in 1959 until 1963. By now she had totalled 1,164,724 miles. In 1963 she returned briefly to Brighton and it was planned to have her scrapped in 1964, but Sir William 'Billy' Butlin saved her in May 1964. One of the three Terriers he bought, he had her painted yellow and sent for use as an attraction to his Butlin's holiday camp in Pwllheli, Wales, displayed next to LMS Pacific engine Princess Margaret Rose.

In 1971 the Wight Locomotive Society, formed in 1966, persuaded Billy Butlin to loan Newport to them. This Society, soon renamed the Isle of Wight Steam Railway after operating trains in 1972, had become the South of England's second fledgling heritage railway to run steam-hauled trains. This was after the world's first standard gauge heritage line, the Bluebell Railway (1960), and before the Kent & East Sussex Railway, despite this having been formed earlier (1961), but did not run its first train until 1974. Newport was externally restored to its former glory, unveiled to celebrate the Centenary of the Ryde to Newport Railway on 24 August, 1975, but this was in appearance only. Newport was bought from Billy Butlin for £3,500 in 1976, but the years in the salty seaside air at the holiday camp made restoration difficult. In January 1981, Newport had the honour of being the first locomotive in the new workshop at Havenstreet, although she was pushed rather than travelling under her own steam.

Newport's restoration was finally completed in 1989, remaining in service in British Railways (BR) black until an overhaul in 2002, returning to service in 2014. She is now adorned in Southern green livery rather than Isle of Wight Central Railway crimson.

W12 Ventnor

Built in 1880, the last Terrier, originally named 84 Crowborough, was the last Terrier to be purchased by the Isle of Wight Central Railway, for £725 in 1903. Ventnor was soon put to work, covering 20,000 miles in her first year of operation on the Island. She was upgraded to an A1X in 1916. She remained working the Island's branch lines until 1936, when she was replaced by the O2 class and sent to Eastleigh to be used as a source of spares, before being scrapped in 1949.

W8 Freshwater

The 30th Terrier to be built, originally 46 Newington when completed in 1877, Freshwater has had a busy life complete with eight different owners. After being renumbered 646, in 1902 she became one of two Terriers sold to the LSWR at a price of £500. She then had 574,000 miles on the clock and was renumbered 734. After being housed in Guildford, they were intended to operate the Lyme Regis branch line. This line, owned by the Axminster & Lyme Regis Light Railway Company and operated by the LSWR, was completed in July 1903. It had notorious steep gradients and sharp curves. Few engines were suitable to operate on such a difficult line, especially as it had been lightly laid. While the line was completed, Freshwater worked the Guildford to Bournemouth via Alton line, following what is now the Watercress Line. They were replaced on the Lyme Regis line in 1906 by O2 engines. She then worked various small parts of the LSWR network, such as between Yeovil Junction and Yeovil Town, Botley to Bishops Waltham, Exmouth and Bournemouth.

In the early years of the 20th Century, the Isle of Wight Central Railway had operated trains to the West Wight on the line owned by the Freshwater, Yarmouth & Newport Railway. By 1911 the two companies were in serious dispute regarding this, and by June 1913, after two years of talks failed, the FYNR and the IWCR parted on bad terms7. The FYNR therefore needed their own locomotives, purchasing a Manning Wardle Q class to become no 1 and also hired the Terrier destined to become Freshwater from the LSWR for 15 shillings a day, with an option to purchase for £900, which was taken up. This, their no 2 engine, was painted in bright green livery, lines with white and black. She travelled an average 150 miles a day. In 1923 after Grouping8, the bankrupt FYNR reluctantly became part of Southern Railways.

After years of service, in 1949 Freshwater was one of the last two Terriers to leave the Island and was sent to Eastleigh. There she was renamed 32646 and worked on Hayling Island. In 1958 she returned to Brighton Works, where she had been built, and was the last locomotive overhauled there before the works closed. When Hayling Island's line was closed in November 1963, Freshwater was withdrawn from service. The Hayling Terrier Fund, an organisation intending to preserve a Terrier engine on Hayling Island, attempted to purchase her but they could not raise the full amount. Instead, Charles Ashby of the Sadler Railcar Company bought her.

The Sadler Railcar Company, also known as the Sadler Rail Coach Company, were based at Droxford on Hampshire's Meon Valley line. The Meon Valley Line had run between Alton and Fareham. It was one of the last mainline railways when built in Britain in 1903, but the southern section closed in 1962. Ashby bought Droxford Station, where he designed the Sadler Rail Coach railbus. Launching a company called Sadler Vectrail Ltd in 1966, he planned to reopen the Island's Ryde to Cowes railway using his railbuses, but sadly this never came to fruition. Ashby was keen to operate private charters and operated Freshwater on his section of the Meon Valley line between Droxford and Wickham. The hoped-for Meon Valley Railway suffered a series of severe setbacks, including a fire at Droxford and the closure of the mainline connection. The line south of Wickham was closed in 1974, with the last line closed 1975.

In 1966 Freshwater was sold to the Portsmouth-based Brickwoods Brewery, who wanted her to be an eye-catching pub sign on nearby Hayling Island, outside their new Hayling Billy pub. There she remained on a plinth for a decade, initially under the name Newington until a team of Islanders travelled over to the Haying Island in the 1970s and repainted her back to Freshwater. Brickwoods Brewery was bought by Whitbread and in 1979 Whitbread donated Freshwater to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

As Freshwater was in a better preserved condition than Newport, efforts were made to restore her first, and in June 1981 Freshwater returned to traffic on the Isle of Wight once more. She quickly established herself as a reliable workhorse, and in 1984 was the only working steam engine the railway had.

W13 Carisbrooke

Built in 1880 and originally called 77 Wonersh, the 44th Terrier's early career was spent working the Guildford to Horsham line. In 1911 this Terrier became the first one to be converted into an A1X and later worked in Tunbridge Wells, East Grinstead and Haywards Heath. A consistently hard-working engine, by the time of Grouping she had the highest mileage of any Terrier at over 1,230,000 miles. So in 1925 she was taken out of service and was due to be scrapped.

When W9's boiler problems were realised in 1926, Southern Railway instead decided to send Carisbrooke to the Isle of Wight to replace W9. Arriving in May 1927, and originally allocated number W3, Carisbrooke was locally nicknamed Coffee Pot as she had a unique copper-capped chimney. From 1930 she regularly worked the Bembridge branch line and in 1932 was renumbered W13. In 1936 the turntable at Bembridge was replaced with a larger one, allowing the line to be used by O2 class locomotives. Though many Terriers departed from the Island at this time, Carisbrooke remained, working the Ventnor West line and also undertaking general shunting duties. In 1949 she was one of the last two Terriers to leave the Island and, under the number 32677, worked the Hayling Island line until 1959. Then in 1960 in Eastleigh, having run up an impressive mileage of over 1,500,000 miles during her career, she was scrapped.

W14 Bembridge

Originally 78 Knowle, the 45th Terrier was completed in 1880 and worked initially in East London, before heading to Tunbridge Wells for a few years and in the 1890s worked the Hayling Island and East Southsea lines from Portsmouth. In 1907 the locomotive's name was removed when she was renumbered 678, and was upgraded to become an A1X in 1911 having a mileage of 764,000 on the clock. After working in Bognor, West Croydon and Horsham the Terrier was no longer required on the mainland when Southern Railway realised that the Isle of Wight needed another Terrier. She arrived in May 1929.

Now numbered W4 and named Bembridge, she initially worked the Bembridge branch line and later the Freshwater line. In 1932 she was renumbered W14 to allow the fourth E1 0-6-0 engine to arrive on the Island to have the number 'W4'. In the mid-1930s the Bembridge and Freshwater lines were upgraded to allow the O2 class to work them. And so in 1936 W14 Bembridge was returned to the mainland, with new-to-the-Island O2 class W33 now given the name Bembridge.

On arrival in Eastleigh in December 1936, Bembridge was condemned but not scrapped and instead given a new boiler and returned to Hayling Island in 1937. In 1940 the engine was loaned to the independent Kent & East Sussex Railway as number 2678, and when the railway became part of British Railways she was renamed 32678. In 1949 the engine was derailed and fell onto its right hand side into a swamp adjoining Wittersham Road. She was on the Kent & East Sussex line on the last day of passenger service in January 1954, pushing the very last passenger train. She remained there until 1958, as two freight trains a day and occasional Hop-Pickers' Specials still used the line. She then returned to Hayling Island and pulled trains up to a month before the Hayling Island line closed.

In 1963 she was based in Brighton and worked along Newhaven West Quay. She was the last Terrier there before Newhaven's harbour lines closed, and the last Terrier to be based at Brighton. In 1963 she was sent to Eastleigh and withdrawn from service, after almost 1,400,000 miles. In 1964 Billy Butlin bought her to be displayed at his Minehead holiday camp next to the Duchess of Hamilton. She was subsequently purchased by a group of West Somerset Railway supporters in 1975, who stored her in a barn. Unable to restore the engine, in 1983 they tried to sell her to the Bluebell Railway, but they felt the project required too much work. Instead she was purchased by Resco Railways and restored in Woolwich. In 1988 she was moved to the Kent & East Sussex Railway's headquarters at Rolvenden.

In 1999 the engine steamed again after 33 years. Sold to the Terrier Trust in 2000, she took part in the Kent & East Sussex Railway extension from Northiam to Bodiam celebrations in 2001.

W9 Fishbourne

The 27th Terrier built in 1876 and originally 50 Whitechapel, her early career began working around East London and Croydon. In 1901 she was renumbered 650 and sent to work on Hayling Island in 1912, also working in Sussex. In 1930 she was sent to the Isle of Wight as a summer season engine, given the Isle of Wight extended coal bunker and renamed W9 Fishbourne. It is believed that while on the Island she steamed her millionth mile. However when the Island's Terriers were replaced with O2 engines in 1936 she was numbered DS 515 as Departmental Stock and used in the Lancing carriage works. She remained in the carriage works until 1953, when she was swapped with another Terrier to work on Hayling Island, as its Isle of Wight bunker was preferred to Terriers which had not been modified for Isle of Wight use. She was now numbered 32650, and served on Hayling Island until 1963. On Sunday, 2 November, 1963, Fishbourne pulled the very last passenger train from Hayling Island, the 9pm service.

In 1964 the Borough of Sutton and Cheam announced that they intended to purchase Terrier no 61, later 32661 Sutton, to be displayed in the Civic Centre being developed. They wished to acknowledge the part played by the railway in Sutton's development. Unfortunately Sutton had been cut up in September 1963. Undeterred, the Borough of Sutton decided to purchase Fishbourne as a substitute, renaming her Sutton in the original's place. As the Civic Centre was still being developed, the Borough was happy to allow the Terrier to be kept on the proposed Kent & East Sussex Railway – the railway would restore the Terrier to working order and in return could use her services, provided she use the name Sutton rather than either her original or Isle of Wight names.

'Sutton' arrived on the KESR line in 1964 and was fully restored by 1969. In 1974, 'Sutton' hauled the first official train of the KESR9. In the early 21st Century Sutton Borough Council felt that the KESR did not consider the engine to be a priority and so moved her to run on the Spa Valley Railway, a Tunbridge Wells-based heritage railway formed in 1994 by TWERPS10.


It is perhaps indicative of their advanced design that, of the 13 LBSCR engines that survive today, ten are Terriers11, with four of the ten having served on the Isle of Wight. The very first Terrier, Fenchurch, was the oldest locomotive to work for British Railways, still in service 91 years after being built.

Butlin's Railway Rescue

Holiday camp magnate and railway enthusiast Billy Butlin rescued eight engines from destruction. Three of the engines that he preserved as displays in his Butlin's Holiday Camps were Terriers, purchased from BR for £750 each. This was largely on the advice of AB MacLeod, Controller of British Railways' London Midland Region. MacLeod was a renowned railway photographer and author of Rails in the Isle of Wight. Having been in charge of the Island Railways between 1928-34, he was particularly fond of Terriers and with Billy Butlin saved two he knew well, Newport and Bembridge.

T'Other Terriers

The four Isle of Wight Terriers are not the only surviving members of her class, six others survive. Of these, Stepney is by far the most famous. She was the first engine to steam on the Bluebell Line12, the world's first preserved standard-gauge steam passenger railway, in August 1960. The Bluebell Line's oldest engine is her sister Terrier Fenchurch.

EngineDateNotesLocation Today
72 Fenchurch1872The first Terrier, British Railways' oldest operating engineBluebell Railway
70 Poplar1872The Terrier Trust renamed her 3 BodiamKESR
54 Waddon1875Donated to the Canada Railway Historical Assocation in 1975Exporail, the Canadian Railway Museum, Montreal
55 Stepney1875World famous, appearing in Thomas the Tank EngineBluebell Railway
62 Martello1875Displayed at Butlin's at Heads of AyrBressingham Gardens, Norfolk
82 Boxhill1880Kept as a historical artefact since 1947NRM


  • 1846 - London Brighton & South Coast Railway formed.
  • 1862 - Opening of Cowes & Newport Railway, the first railway company on the Isle of Wight.
  • 1864 - Isle of Wight Railway between Ryde to Shanklin opens.
  • 1872-1880 - Fifty Terrier engines constructed.
  • 1887 - Isle of Wight Central Railway formed.
  • 1898 - First of seven Terriers, W9, arrives on the Island.
  • 1900 - The Isle of Wight's railway lines now stretch 55 miles, with 36 stations.
  • 1923 - Grouping merges LBSCR, LSWR and the Isle of Wight's railways etc to form Southern Railway.
  • 1948 - British Rail formed.
  • 1949 - Last Terriers leave the Island.
  • 1966 - Only the 8½ mile Ryde to Shanklin line and six stations remain on Island.
  • 1967 - Wight Locomotive Society formed, purchasing an engine and two carriages.
  • 1971 - Wight Locomotive Society becomes Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
  • 1972 - First passenger train on Isle of Wight Steam Railway, between Havenstreet and Wootton.
  • 1973 - Newport returns to the Isle of Wight.
  • 1979 - Freshwater returns to the Isle of Wight.
  • 1981 - Freshwater steams again.
  • 1989 - Newport steams again.
  • 1991 - Isle of Wight Steam Railway now 5¾ miles long following Smallbrook Junction extension.
1The London & Croydon Railway, The London & Brighton Railway, The Brighton & Chichester Railway, The Brighton, Lewes & Hastings Railway and The Croydon & Epsom Railway.2Also A1x, A1/x and A1/X.3Formed in 1887 with the merger of the Cowes & Newport Railway (formed 1862), Ryde & Newport Railway (1875) and The Newport Junction Railway (1879), later taking over the Newport, Godshill & St Lawrence Railway in 1913.4Purchasing the 2¾ mile branch from Brading to Bembridge run by the Brading Harbour Improvement Railway & Works Company (1880), later renamed Brading Harbour Railway, in 1898.5Although the companies that merged to form the IWCR had named their own locomotives. The first two engines on the Island for the Cowes & Newport Railway were named Pioneer and Precursor with two Newport & Ryde Railway locomotives named Cowes and Osborne, while the Isle of Wight Newport Junction Railway had the first engine named Newport. When the IWCR was formed, it imaginatively renamed these engines 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 respectively.6Best remembered for its centrepiece, the Eiffel Tower.7In Victorian and Edwardian England, hell hath no fury like that between neighbouring railway companies. Among the worst feuds outside Scotland was that between the London Chatham & Dover Railway and the South Eastern Railway which lasted until 1923, despite the two companies having all but merged in 1898.8Following the 1921 Railways Act, 120 railway companies in Great Britain were forcibly merged or 'grouped' to form four much larger companies.9The delay had been caused by difficulties in obtaining a Light Railway (Transfer) Order allowing trains to run on the line. The first actual train had been hauled by Bodiam.10Tunbridge Wells & Eridge Railway Preservation Society.11The others are an E1 0-6-0 preserved as W2 Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, B 0-4-2 Gladstone in the National Railway Museum and an E4 0-6-2T Birch Grove on the Bluebell Line, who are also building a replica H2 4-4-2.12The Bluebell Line has the second largest collection of steam locomotives in Britain after the National Railway Museum (NRM).

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