'HYBRID' my story so far
Once upon a time, many years ago, (1949 to be precise) I was created as a rather fine miniature railway locomotive by a Mr T Trevitt and ran at Redcar and Whitley bay for 3 years . I was called 'HYBRID'. Then I fell from favour and was sent to Middlesbrough to be scrapped, why I don’t know but the prospect of being melted down and turned into Ford Prefects was a very real possibility.
I languished forlorn and forgotten when I was rescued in 1953 by a Mr Archie Wallis of Leicester and I thought my salvation had arrived. I guess that when Archie got me home he realised that I had been built to a very odd gauge, 11" to be precise. Over the course of the next few years, he and his son Raymond dismantled me , perhaps with the intention of regauging me to the slightly more popular 10 1/4" gauge - who knows? When Archie died I was moved to Rays garage where I was to remain for many decades. My once proud boiler stood in one corner of the garage, my mainframes stood against the wall, my driving wheels ended up under a large boat, my cylinders at the other end of the building, the tender had its wheels removed and these along with many other parts were stored inside.
Gradually over the years, many many other things joined me in the garage until it was impossible to move for the accumulated clutter. Sometimes Ray and his wife, Betty, would come and take the car out but recently even this stopped. I now know that this was because Ray had died, my prospects did indeed look bleak.
One day not long ago two men in blue overalls came and started to clear the garage, they paid scant attention to me , and once more the dreaded words 'only suitable for the scrap heap' floated on the ether. My parts were heavy and by now my once proud paintwork had faded, my parts had become rusty I was not even sure that all my bits were still there, I was sure that my boiler would have rusted and be of no use.
Then my luck changed, a man called John Bailiss came into the garage (he had come along to look at some of the other things in the garage but he spotted me (well some of the bits that were once 'me' ) and was intrigued. I worried that once he found out that I was just an odd old thing he would lose interest. When the doors closed as they all left and the chill of the winter once more closed around me I felt very vulnerable, my prospects were not good.
I had not realised it but John had taken a picture of me on his telephone (when I had last seen the light of day cameras were box brownies and telephones were attached to walls - if you had one at all) . This photo was sent by John to Dave Holroyde who is the miniature railway records keeper and within 2 weeks he replied to John with 4 photographs and a brief history. John now knew my provenance, my prospects were looking up.
Not long later John and his friend Richard arrived at the garage with a large trailer and the two other men in blue overalls brought along a crane and the four of them loaded me onto the trailer, it was the first time I had seen the outside world and travelled for the best part of 60 years.
John took me to his home - he lives on the Littlethorpe Miniature Railway with many other fine railway engines. I overheard him telling his friends that he was going to rebuild me as a 10 1/4" gauge engine I was to be reborn like a Phoenix.
Soon parts of me were off on more exciting adventures, my frames were shotblasted and repainted in red and black. My wheels were reprofiled and regauged to 10 1/4" , my valves were retimed - all by Denver Light Railways.
My boiler was made ready for an hydraulic test and withstood 220psi with no leaks - not bad for 65 years old !
In early March my tender was sent to a special shop for respraying with my new colour scheme.
I am very very excited , I had thought my 'lot was up' , but now I am to be born again , a whole new life stretches before me , I cannot wait to be steamed again and feel my newly reprofiled wheels turning once again on the metals of a railway track. Once my all too brief early life was lived in black and white, now I will be in full colour and it is all thanks to my benefactor John, for without his vision and enthusiasm not to mention the time and money my end surely would not have been that which he has now bestowed on me.
I will let you know how I get on.