History of the collection

Polar Bear - W G Bagnall, Stafford, 2-4-0T No 1781. Built 1905.

Probably our most famous locomotive is "Polar Bear" which was built in 1906 for the Groudle Glen Railway on the Isle of Man, the second of two similar locomotives constructed by Bagnalls of Stafford for the line. When the original GGR closed in the 1960s, Polar Bear was acquired by the Brockham Museum Association and came to Amberley when the two collections were amalgamated in 1982. Here we see Polar Bear, not long after its reboilering in 1993 operating the Museum's Santa Special train while, in 1996, Polar Bear returned to its old line, reopened in 1986, and is seen here double-heading a train with Sea Lion, the older of the two Bagnalls on the line. Polar Bear operated at Amberley from 1984 until 1987 when the boiler (which later we found out dated from 1927) was condemned. A new boiler was constructed in 1992 and the loco returned to service in 1993 in its original yellow livery


Although strictly speaking not an Industrial locomotive, Polar Bear does demonstrate the tourist industry of the Victorian and Edwardian periods when many lines like the Groudle Glen Railway were built to take tourists to places that they would otherwise not be able to reach.

Peter - W G Bagnall, Stafford, 0-4-0ST No 2067. Built 1918.

"Peter" was built in 1918 as a 3ft gauge machine for the Canadian Forestry Commission but with the cessation of the WWI hostilities, was returned to Bagnalls. Peter was then rebuilt to 2ft gauge and purchased by the Cliffe Hill Granite Co in Leicestershire, where it worked until 1949 when it was stored out of service. Peter was then acquired by the Narrow Gauge Railway Society and eventually came to Amberley with the Brockham Collection.

The locomotive was restored to working order under the skillful eye of volunteer the late Doug Bentley (right) with assistance from Bill Johnston, and returned to service in 1993.

Peter heads out of Brockham with some wagons past the lever frame which has since been transferred to Brockham.

Barbouilleur - Decauville, 0-4-0WT No 1126. Built 1947.


Our third steam locomotive is the french Decauville locomotive "Barbouilleur", owned by Peter Smith, and which has been on loan to the Museum since it was restored in the 1980s. It seems to have done little work in industry, having spent much of its life as a hire locomotive with its builders, and, after acquisition by a number of french enthusiasts at the Froissy-Cappy-Dompierre project near Amiens, during which time little or nothing was done with it, Peter Smith obtained it and brought it to Amberley in 1982.

It was our only operational steamer for several years while Polar Bear was being reboilered and it now shares the work of providing our visitors with a steam train ride with the two Bagnalls.

Peldon - John Fowler Resilient Class No. 21295/1936

Peldon is the only working example of a 2ft gauge, Fowler Resilient 4w industrial diesel locomotive. It was built by John Fowler & Co (Leeds) Ltd for the Essex Water Authority for use during the construction of the Abberton Reservoir near Colchester, Essex. “Peldon” is powered by a 40hp Fowler Sanders 4 cyl engine, No. M443, B series.

After the Water Authority had no further use for it, the loco was sold, with “Layer”, to the Alpha Cement Company, at Cliffe at Hoo, Kent. It was acquired for preservation by the Brockham Museum Trust, and transferred to Amberley with the Brockham collection in 1982. The locomotive was acquired in a rundown, derelict state, and was restored by volunteers at Amberley, again led by Doug Bentley, finally re-entering service in 1987.

Peldon is fitted with emergency air braking and an air horn and is seen here on the Museum's passenger train towards the end of the 1999 season.


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© Gerry Cork & Amberley Working Museum - February 2000
Updated Octber 2012

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