Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway

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NEWS UPDATE! April 2021 - "Skeggie Simplex" was awarded runner up in both categories.

Well done to all involved in the painstaking restoration of this fine locomotive!





The near-30 year restoration of a small diesel locomotive on the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway has been shortlisted for not one, but two, national awards in the 2021 “Railway Oscars”.

It is the third consecutive year in which the railway in the Skegness Water Leisure Park has been shortlisted by the Heritage Railway Association (the trade body for heritage railways, tramways and museums in the UK and Ireland) for an award. It was a joint winner with neighbours, the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway at Ludborough, near Louth, for its achievement in reopening in 2009. The LCLR was the very first heritage railway in the world to be built by enthusiasts on a greenfield site when it opened on 27th August 1960 on its original site, linking the bus terminus at Humberston, south of Cleethorpes, with the local beach and The Fitties holiday camp.

Barbara Barnes, Board Director of the Heritage Railway Association, advised the LCLR that the Nominations Panel of the Awards had shortlisted their entry “Skeggy Simplex - Iconic Simplex Success” for the Award for Diesel Locomotion and also for the Coiley Award. Winners will not be known until the day of the Awards (to be held in York on 3rd March or 27th April 2021, depending on covid-19 restrictions) as voting is done by secret ballot.

The locomotive is an 0-4-0 Diesel Mechanical 20 hp straight frame “Simplex” built by Motor Rail Ltd of Bedford in 1947, as works number 9264. It is locomotive number 8 in the LCLR fleet.

Restoration was started more than 25 years ago by members of the LCLR Historic Vehicles Trust  at the then home in North Somercotes (north of Mablethorpe) of Richard Shepherd, a Trustee (now Chairman). He has continued to work, with many other volunteers,  on the completion of the project. The loco is now in operation  at the LCLR HQ in the Skegness Water Leisure Park.

Railway spokesman John Chappell said: “We’re honoured to be short-listed alongside the great achievements of the giants of railway preservation, such as the Ffestiniog Railway and the Severn Valley Railway. Without any of their resources. our volunteers’ skill and dedication has brought back to life a small locomotive which has played a very large part in making the Lincolnshire Coast one of the most popular destinations in the country for families on holiday  – helping to protect the towns and villages and literally providing the motive power to build much of them in its everyday work”.

Richard Shepherd said: “It is wonderful to see and hear the ‘Skeggy Simplex’ running again after all the years of work, using only the most basic of tools. It’s not been an easy task, but persistence in solving problems and sourcing or making spare parts has paid off. I don’t think it occurred to us that one day, our efforts would be judged alongside those of the Severn Valley Railway, the Ffestiniog, the Tanfield or Mid-Suffolk – all lines whose achievements over the years we respect and admire”.

The shortlisted nominees are:

The HRA Award for Diesel Locomotion

Awarded to an HRA member organisation for excellence in the overhaul, restoration, preservation or operation of a diesel locomotive(s) or self-propelled diesel vehicle(s).

The Mid Suffolk Railway - The ‘Shredded Wheat ‘ Locomotive
Severn Valley Railway - Class 50 Alliance for 30 years of Class 50 Preservation Excellence
Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway - Skeggy Simplex - Iconic Simplex Success

The Coiley Locomotive Engineering Award

Awarded to an HRA member organisation who has completed an outstanding engineering project in the overhaul, restoration, or preservation of, a locomotive or self-propelled vehicle.

Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway - Skeggy Simplex - Iconic Simplex Success
Tanfield Railway - The restoration of 1904-built Andrew Barclay 0-6-0ST no. 1015 Horden
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways - Welsh Pony.

The “Skeggy Simplex” has a unique and remarkable history and its restoration has aroused much interest and recognition of the significance of the LCLR’s collection and its role in preserving unique elements of Lincolnshire’s heritage.

The loco was delivered new to a Mablethorpe firm of contractors, W.G.C.Hammond Ltd., who were  using it on work to strengthen coastal defences, when in 1953, the town and parts of the East  Coast of England and  Scotland, the North Sea coasts of Belgium and The Netherlands were overwhelmed by floods driven by strong winds, which killed 1,836 people, including 133 when the ferry MV Princess Victoria sank and many trawlers were lost.

The sturdiness and reliability of Motor Rail’s “Simplex “ design was shown when the loco was raised from the area swamped by the sea, drained of seawater, sand and debris, then topped up with fresh diesel, oil and water and restarted. She was immediately put back to work on the raising and strengthening of the sea defences. The loco was sold in 1964 to Mablethorpe Brick and Tile Co. Ltd, then resold in 1970, this time to C. F. Rawlinson of the Skegness Brick and Tile Company, who used it until 1976, when the company closed and in 1977,  sold its equipment. It was bought by Robert Dales of Hawerby Hall Farm, Wold Newton, near Grimsby, with some rails and V-skip wagons.

Some of the LCLR’s supporters already had followed its fate and when it was again put up for sale by Mr Dales in 1998, it was bought by a Trust member, who later donated it to the organisation.  Restoration work was started; a replacement radiator was sourced from Hampshire. In 2003,  the loco was moved to join the rest of the LCLR collection in Skegness.

After some years, it was  decided that it would be more practical to continue the restoration back in North Somercotes and once there, the brake and sanding gear were removed along with the radiator, footplate and bonnets.

It was found that the drive chains were in very poor condition, as were the sprockets; the wheels being deemed capable of re-use.

With the help of a local volunteer diesel fitter, the power unit was dismantled in August 2016. After an all-day struggle, the pistons were removed. They were in a very poor state, with piston rings broken and the ring grooves badly worn. Suppliers of Simplex spares could not help and a company called North Lincs Engineering was able to salvage and repair the parts.

A new wooden seat similar to the original  one has been made; the brake column was badly bent and completely worn out. Components from an old press were removed, machined by the donor and welded – and it works.

A new seat box was made by a friend of one of the trustees, and a spare genuine Motor Rail metal seat was donated and fixed. The fuel tank presented problems: the lower half had corroded and over a couple of summers, one of the volunteers repaired it with tinplate and solder. The fuel filter, which frost had broken into five parts, leaked on assembly and eventually the problem was cured by a local company which cast a replacement, using the broken one as a pattern.

Some idea of the difficulty which the team encountered in restoring the loco on a site which has only a minimal engineering facility, can be gained from the fact that the volunteers discovered an ominous gap in the flywheel between the inner and outer halves. They had to lift out the flywheel and associated equipment manually three times to replace and test it. Parts were made by one of the volunteers at his home, were refitted at Skegness, tested then returned to the home workshop for adjustment and taken back to Skegness, for fitting and a further test.

In every sense, it was a team effort, with many volunteers contributing time, expertise and labour to bring this unsung part of Lincolnshire’s heritage back to life, with it finally running faultlessly in 2020. It must be emphasised that the loco is now in “working” condition, as distinct from museum condition, much as it would have been when sold to the brickworks in Mablethorpe.

In September 2020, as part of the LCLR’s celebration of its 60th anniversary of being the first heritage railway in the world to be built by enthusiasts (opening on 27th August 1960 on its original location in Humberston, south of Cleethorpes, from where it moved to Skegness, reopening in 2009) the “Skeggy Simplex” as the loco is affectionately known, took part in a convoy of the eight Simplexes on the LCLR – all of which are now in working order and operable condition.

  • Restoration of the loco has aroused much interest locally, with several features appearing in the regional media and the railway press. One prompted the son of the former Skegness Brickworks manager to send in photos of himself and his siblings playing as children on what he thought was the loco  However, Boyce Smith’s photos and letters eventually helped the restoration team  identify another Simplex which had been used by the brickworks and was in turn replaced by the ‘Skeggy Simplex’ thus helping to correctly record a significant part of the resort’s industrial heritage.

 December 2020

At Skegness Brickworks: the loco in everyday working condition at Skegness Brickworks, hauling “tubs” of clay for making into bricks. Photo: Geoff Hankin/LCLR

On return to Skegnessthis time at the LCLR: the “Skeggy Simplex” has already undergone some restoration at North Somercotes but there is much, much more to do. Photo: Jim Smith/LCLR.

Test run early 2020: Brian Coldwell takes the loco for a test run in early 2020, when it became evident there was still more complex work to do on the clutch and fuel system. Photo: Chris Bates, LCLR.

Finished loco: it’s September 2020 and the “Skeggy Simplex” is finished and preparing to take part in the Eight Simplex Cavalcade which marked the 60th Anniversary of the LCLR’s opening as the world’s first heritage line to be built by enthusiasts. Photo: Dave Enefer/LCLR.