125th anniversary of the end of Brunel's broad gauge railway

SDR No 151 / GWR No 2180 'Tiny'
Only remaining broad gauge engine can be found in the former goods shed at Buckfastleigh station
Published Thu, 2017-05-18 12:27

The rather strange, diminutive vertical boilered locomotive SDR No 151 / GWR No 2180 'Tiny' is unique as it is the only surviving locomotive built to Brunel's broad gauge of 7' 0.1/4" of the hundreds that ran on the GWR before the broad gauge was abandoned in favour of Stephenson's narrow (or standard) gauge in May 1892.




SDR No 151 / GWR No 2180 'Tiny' © SDR

According to a copy of the Great Western Railway Magazine in the 1930s, Tiny is the last actual surviving broad gauge locomotive in existence. It was built by Sara & Co., of Plymouth, in 1868 and used for shunting purposes in Newton Abbot yard until the early (eighteen) eighties. It passed into the ownership of the Great Western Railway Company with other of the South Devon Railway's rolling stock when the latter company became amalgamated with the former in 1876, and for some years afterwards was used, with one of it flanged wheels removed and a pulley wheel substituted , as a spare stationary engine for working the pumps in the boiler house at Newton Abbot locomotive shops. On the rebuilding of Newton Abbot station a few years ago, the opportunity was taken to superannuate the Tiny and to place it on public exhibition.

The public exhibition in question was a plinth on the station, where Tiny was placed in 1927 where she remained for 53 years until moving to Buckfastleigh in 1980.

Interestingly, though, it appears the GWR were not entirely correct in their assertion as to the location of Sara & Co. According to eminent local historian, Maurice Dart, there is no record of a company of that name in Plymouth. However, there was a Sara & Co in Penryn, Cornwall. A direct descendent, Mr Michael Sara, has confirmed that, indeed, Tiny was built in Penryn.

One of three built, each carried a small bunker of coal and 80 gallons of water. Her two classmates were converted to standard gauge and eventually scrapped. 

Tiny is part of the National Collection and can be visited at the Buckfastleigh Museum on the South Devon Railway.

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