Lavender Line in Isfield gets historic train

ISFIELD’S famous steam railway, The Lavender Line, has taken delivery of an historic locomotive.

Last month specialist restorers moved Hawthorn Leslie 3837 on a low loader by road from the Leatherhead Leisure Centre to Isfield.

The loco was built in 1934 by Hawthorn Leslie of Newcastle and spent its working life at Stewarts and Lloyds iron and steel works in Corby.

For the technically minded, it weights 35 tons, is an 0-6-0 saddletank with two outside cylinders, 16 inches in diameter with a 24 inch stroke and Stephensen valve gear.

Boiler pressure is 175 pounds per square inch, driving wheels 45 inch and the tractive effort is around 19,000 pounds. The loco was withdrawn from active service in 1969 by which time it had been converted to burn oil rather than coal.

It served on the Battlefield Line at Market Harborough, the Nene Valley Railway at Peterborough and finally the Swanage Railway in Dorset.

Then it was bought by a Dorking based firm and presented to the Leatherhead Leisure Centre’s water park which closed a few years ago leaving the engine forlorn, unwanted and decaying.

Last August enthusiasts Peter Pope and Brian Davis decided to rescue the loco which was due to be disposed of by the local council. They formed the Hawthorn Leslie 3837 Preservation Society (now 40 members strong) and their bid was accepted.

Brian said: “It’s nothing like a sleek express engine but we love our old loco and once we got it into the car park several centre visitors of all ages admired it.

“Very young children love its ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ blue.”

Brian has been a great Thomas fan for most of his 63 years and wanted to call it ‘Roland the Rescue Engine’ although fellow committee members say it warrants a more sensible name.

The society is always on the lookout for new members, particularly now the restoration programme has started, and the friendly team welcomes anyone who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty.

Peter is chief mechanical engineer and his credentials include working on notable steam engines including the Flying Scotsman.

Brian says donations are welcome no matter how small. To find out more about the project email him at: or write to: 63 Cannon Grove, Fetcham, Leatherhead, Surrey, KT22 9LP