Local loco returns home to mark 100th birthday

29 May 2012

Children from Sand Hutton Primary School threw a party today to celebrate a local celebrity reaching their 100th birthday.

Synolda, a 15 inch gauge Bassett-Lowke 4-4-2 steam locomotive, was built in 1912 and spent the first part of its life operating on the Sand Hutton Miniature Railway – a railway which served the estate of Sir Robert Walker, the 4th Baronet of Sand Hutton. The event also marked the locomotive's return home after 90 years. This unique event was made possible due to the engine travelling from its current home at Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway in Cumbria to the National Railway Museum in York to attend Railfest – Britain's biggest rail celebration.

Sir Robert Walker purchased the newly built steam locomotive in 1912 from Bassett-Lowke of Northampton and named it 'Synolda' after his first wife. When the Sand Hutton Miniature Railway was first built, 350 yards of track were laid in the grounds of Sand Hutton Hall, but this was extended to 1,245 yards by the end of 1913. During the First World War, the Hall and grounds were subject to abandonment with many of the local men joining the war effort. Following the war, Sir Robert Walker reopened the line and set in motion plans to extend and connect the railway with the North Eastern Railway station so that the longer line could serve as the main transportation system for the estate. By the end of 1920, much of the work had been carried out, but it became apparent the new line was steeply graded and would require a more powerful locomotive to operate efficiently. Synolda remained at Sand Hutton until 1922 after which it was sold on to Belle Vue Miniature Railway.

Returning home 90 years later, the little blue engine received a warm welcome from children at Sand Hutton Primary School who threw a party to celebrate its 100th birthday ahead of its attendance at Railfest 2012. Once the cake had been eaten and the obligatory 'Happy Birthday' song had been sung, the engine was transported to the National Railway Museum in York to take part in the Railfest event taking place 2 – 10 June.

Bob Gwynne, Associate Curator of Rail Vehicles at the National Railway Museum, said:

"We're delighted that we were able to mark Synolda’s birthday with a fitting celebration at the very place it started its operating life 100 years ago. Synolda captured the hearts of the local people of Sand Hutton when it was first brought here in 1912 and it’s lovely to see that the little engine has created similar excitement with the school children today. The next stop for the locomotive is the National Railway Museum where it will be added to the impressive line up of vehicles attending Britain's biggest rail celebration, Railfest."

Railfest 2012 will see an enormous space the size of 11 football pitches bustling with an awe-inspiring line up of more than 50 locomotives including record-breaking historic and modern locomotives from the museum’s collection and visiting locomotives from across the UK. A wide variety of railway-related activities, attractions, sights, sounds and smells will add to the exciting atmosphere with the opportunity to get up close to the exhibits.

The festival will bring together over 30 record-breaking locomotives that have made their mark on rail history for being the fastest, strongest, first, last and oldest. Among the confirmed record-breaking attendees is holder of the record for the word’s fastest steam locomotive at 126mph, Mallard, the newest mainline steam locomotive in operation, Tornado, and the most powerful industrial tank engine built for use in the UK, Mardy Monster. The first steam locomotive to reach 100mph, Flying Scotsman, is also set to attend the event. The locomotive is currently undergoing major restoration work and will be on display to the public during Railfest with further work being carried out on Flying Scotsman after the event. Railfest 2012 will welcome the largest gathering of railway record breakers ever brought together in one place.

With key support from the leading rail magazine titles; RAIL, Steam Railway and Model Rail, the festival is expected to draw railway fans from far and wide.

Tickets can be bought by visiting nrm.org.uk/railfest2012* or on the day. Those wishing to attend the event are encouraged to buy their tickets in advance to fast-track their entry and avoid the queues. Ticket prices start at £8 for children aged 2-15 years and £13 for an adult. Family tickets and group offers are available. Railfest will be hosted in an outdoor area at the museum with entry to the rest of the museum remaining free to visitors during the 9 day event. For all the latest updates and announcements, visit nrm.org.uk/railfest2012 or sign-up to receive the museum's email newsletter.

For more information contact:
Emma Rodgers, Press Officer, National Railway Museum
01904 686271

Notes to Editors:

• The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts over 700,000 visitors per year.

• The National Railway Museum's collection includes over 300 locomotives and rolling stock, 628 coins and medals, 4899 pieces of railway uniform and costume, railway equipment, documents, records, artwork and railway related photographs.

• The National Railway Museum houses a world class collection of Royal trains, which includes a collection of Royal carriages, from those used by Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II.

• The National Railway Museum's vast art collection comprises of 11,270 posters, 2,358 prints and drawings, 1052 paintings, and 1,750,000 photographs, many of which have never been on public display.

• The National Railway Museum forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, the National Media Museum in Bradford and Locomotion – the National Railway Museum in Shildon.

• Admission to the National Railway Museum is free.

• For more information visit nrm.org.uk.

• Follow us at twitter.com/railwaymuseumPR.

• Join us at facebook.com/nationalrailwaymuseum.

Background: L&SWR Adams 563