Steam dream as historic Railmotor returns to track
The last remaining Great Western Railway (GWR) Steam Railmotor is coming home to the Westcountry for a special event starting this weekend.
More than a century after a Steam Railmotor last ran down the Dart Valley, the recently-restored sole survivor of the design will feature at South Devon Railway's gala.
Having celebrated its 40th Ruby anniversary in 2009, the South Devon Railway is the oldest heritage railway line in the region.
South Devon Railway Trust general manager Dick Wood said: "It's a very unusual and striking machine, but effectively the steam-age 'grandfather' of all modern diesel and electric multiple unit trains in which the driver simply changes from one cab to another rather than hooking a locomotive on and off."
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Constructed in 1908, Steam Railmotor No. 93 was one of 99 built by GWR to help deal with growing passenger numbers and compete with electric tramways.
It was converted to an auto trailer in 1935 and used as a mobile railway office from 1956 after it was withdrawn from further passenger service by British Railways.
The train was then saved in 1970 by Great Western Society members who eventually managed to restored it to its former glory at a cost of £1 million with significant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The gala running from February 16 to 24 will showcase rail travel in the South West from 1900 up until the advent of the first diesel engines in the 1960s. After the gala, the Steam Railmotor will run on the West Somerset Railway.