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1973 - 1980
Cadley Hill, near Swadlingcote in south Derbyshire, was a great
place - not especially scenic, not particularly photogenic - but it
retained, and used, steam well after everywhere else had been
dieselised. I believe it was the last "normal" standard gauge
steam in the UK.
Quite why, I was never entirely sure - perhaps the manager, or
someone else significant, was a steam enthusiast. That would
maybe explain the visiting arrangements - there was no need to
write in advance, just turn up "on spec" and sign the indemnity
There was a diesel, of course - a fairly standard Sentinel. But it
didn't seem to be very reliable... Steam locomotives were Cadley
Hill No 1, a Hunslet "Austerity" no 3851 of 1962, "Progress", a
most attractive RSH no. 7298 of 1946, and "Empress", a rather
fine Bagnall 3061 of 1954. Sadly, I never saw either of the latter
in action - it was always "Cadley Hill No. 1" - and on a couple of
occasions towards the end, the Sentinel...
The four locomotives detailed above were joined by several
others over the years - some of these are seen below, including
yellow no. 65, HE 3889 of 1964, the second-last steam
locomotive built for normal UK industrial service. "Swiftsure"-
Hunslet 2857/1943, had arrived from Dodworth Colliery
(Barnsley)* when I visited in April '76, but I’ve no idea what’s
under the sheets behind it. The Giesl oblong ejector indicates the
presence of Empress's sister locomotive WB3059 of 1953, ex-
Florence Colliery, Stoke-on-Trent - "Florence No. 2". And on my
last visit, in August 1980, a yellow Ruston diesel stood in the
shed (544875 of 1968). Meantimes, Swiftsure has had a coat of
paint. I'd be grateful to anyone who can help with identifying the
* Thanks again to Frank Webster
April 1973: Cadley Hill No. 1 in action
25 June 1974: More action with Cadley Hill No. 1; Empress stands outside the shed; Progress rests within.
April 1976: "Florence No. 2" (that looks like a Giesl Ejector to me),
Progress and Cadley Hill No. 1 are all in the shed - someone has got
the Sentinel going! Meanwhile, others (Swiftsure et al.) are gathering
August 1976: No. 65, Florence No 2, and
20 August 1980: Last visit...
I'm not certain when steam was last used at
Cadley Hill; I believe it may have been the
following year (1981). The pit closed seven
years later, on March 25, 1988, marking the end of deep coal
mining in South Derbyshire. What happened to the locomotives?
Cadley Hill No. 1 is at the Snibston Discovery Park
Empress is at Mangapps Farm Railway Museum
Progress returned to the north-east - to the Tanfield
Florence No. 2 went back to Staffordshire - to Foxfield
Swiftsure is on the Strathspey Railway - via Bodmin!
No 65 went to the Rutland Railway Museum