Suburban Electric Railway Association      
Located at the COVENTRY ELECTRIC RAILWAY CENTRE, Rowley Road, Baginton, Warwickshire           

Established 1996

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Kearsley Electric Locomotive No. 1

Power Supply 550v overhead wire
Length Over Buffers Unknown
Transmission Four 45hp traction motors driving axles via reduction gearing
Weight In Working Order Approximately 38 tons
Wheel Diameter 2 ft 9 inches

A Brief History Of The Locomotive

The locomotive was built by the Hawthorn Leslie Company in 1928 for the Lancashire Electric Power Company Limited for use at Kearsley power station, at least one other identical loco to this one was built at the same time but this example was the first delivered so was given running number 1. The choice of electric locos to handle shunting internal coal traffic at the power station was a natural one as by nature of the premises electricity could be supplied to the overhead wires in the yard by the power station itself. The locos were employed moving trucks loaded with coal to feed the boilers that produced the steam that generated electricity for this part of the county. The line to the power station ran from the exchange sidings at Kearsley Junction and ran under the Manchester - Bolton railway to the power station. The ruling gradient of the line was 1in 22 going downhill when running to the power station, with some sections at 1 in 25 and 1 in 27. At the power station the line looped around over the weighbridges and the coal tippler before heading back to the exchange sidings.

Traffic of coal to the power station increased over the ensuing years as output had to meet rising demand. Loco number one was joined by three other locos to a near identical build in 1936 (Number 2), 1944 (Number 3) and 1946 (Number 4). Locos 3 and 4 were built by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn, who had absorbed Hawthorn Leslie.The two latter locos were more powerful than numbers 1 and 2 having four 65hp motors. All of the electrical equipment on the four locos was supplied by the British Thompson Houston Company. Kearsley power closed in 1982 but the internal railway system had ceased to operate a few years prior to this. Thre of the locos still exist. Number 1, Number 3 is preserved at the Tanfield Railway whilst Number 2 is still earning its keep in industrial use having been converted to battery operation and located at Heysham Nuclear Powere Station.

The loco had a nomadic existence when passed into preservation. First it was donated to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry where it spent a few years before being declared surplus in 1992 and sold to John Lees for his 'Shropshire Locomotive Collection' which was a collection of over 50 industrial steam, diesel and this solitary electric loco kept at a garden centre in Shrewsbury. The whole of that collection was sold to individuals and moved to the Yeovil Railway Centre in 2001. In December 2004 it was sold again to a member of the SERA who brought it to Coventry.

This type of loco was used extensively in industry during the first half of the 20th century. It's design is called 'steeple cab' due to the single driving cab that sits centrally between the two upward sloping bonnets that contain the traction control equipment and air compressor to work the locos brakes and sanding gear. Power stations were originally run as private concerns and had extensive internal railway systems. Heysham nuclear power station in Lancashire still employs a steeple cab loco (battery powered) for internal railway traffic to this day.


Kearsley Loco No.1
Kearsley Number 1 is pictured at the power station
between duties in 1976.

Kearsley Loco No.1
Kearsley Number 1 parked at the Coventry site
Waiting for restoration to former glory to start.

A view of sister loco; Kearsley number 2, date unknown
The loco is on the back of a road transporter.