Monday, March 18, 2024

'Robert' the steam locomotive

Robert the Steam Locomotive
Keilyn and Erin with Robert, 2013.

Should you ever find yourself in Stratford, either for shopping, to wander around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, to see the Cart & Horses (birthplace of Iron Maiden) or just to visit, then make sure to look out for 'Robert', the steam locomotive.

Set on a plinth, just outside Stratford station, on Station Street, he is a great photo opportunity, as it is not often you can get this close to a steam locomotive, these days.

We first saw 'Robert', back in 2013, when we took Erin and Keilyn for a wander around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was quite a surprise to walk out of the station to then come face-to-face with a massive steam locomotive.

The next time that we would see 'Robert' was when Keilyn and I went for a wander around Stratford, in February 2024, when we took another photo. It wasn't until I got home, and compared the two photographs, that I realised that I must have stood in pretty much the same spot when taking both shots.

Robert the Steam Locomotive
Keilyn with Robert, 2024.

What I didn't know was how old he was or how he came to be stationed here, so I decided to find out more about him.

Brief History

Works No 2068 Robert 0-6-0ST

The locomotive was built by the Avonside Engine Company, in 1933, for use at Staveley Coal and Iron Limited's Lamport Calcine Sidings in Hanging Houghton, Northamptonshire, as its number 3 engine. It would continue to work there until September 1969, when it was sold privately.

It would then be stored at the London Railway Preservation Society's London Road garage, until March 1970, when it was transferred to the Buckingham Railway Centre, Quainton, Buckinghamshire. Its stay here was short-lived as, in October 1971, it was moved on to Staffordshire's Foxfield Railway, at Dilhorne.

It was then moved to Peak Rail, Matlock, and then on to the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley, both in Derbyshire. It was while at Butterley that the name 'Robert' was acquired by the locomotive.

The Kew Bridge Steam Museum bought Robert, in 1993, and then restored it to look like a Beckton Gas Works engine. With the cosmetic work completed Robert was placed on the tracks near Windsor Terrace, Beckton, close to the Beckton Gas Works and the new Docklands Light Railway extension.

Over the years Robert was vandalised and, in 1999, Newham Council took ownership and moved Robert to a plinth on Station Street.

The Olympic Delivery Authority were forced to cover the cost of Robert's move to Colchester's East Anglia Railway Museum, in 2008, when bridge construction work necessitated his move.

Robert would finally return to Stratford, in 2011, with a shiny new coat of paint. 

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