45163 Restoration Group



44781 and an unexpected find in rural Essex in 2019.

This webpage provides the detail and additional images, previously unpublished, behind a story in issue No 498 of Steam Railway magazine published in October 2019 and the part played by 45163 Restoration Group volunteers in this remarkable find.

The cover story linking the Fifteen Guinea engine 44781 to rural Essex and 45163 Restoration
Group. The cover shows 45163 masquerading as 44781 for this cover photo. (Re-produced with permission of Steam Railway)


Two scenes of the ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’ during the water stop at Blea Moor on August 11 1968,
showing the fireman’s side of No. 44781’s cab found at Bartlow, as she and No. 44871 take their
turns at the water column. The hordes of spectators are controlled by just three British Transport Police
officers and a solitary lookout man in an early high-visibility vest. The man in the trilby hat leaning
from No. 44781’s cab in the black and white shot is presumably Bert Moore, the Carnforth inspector
who was on this engine for the southbound leg, and the man atop the tender in the colour picture
is presumably Fireman David Greenhalgh. (Copyright Peter Fitton)


Further to the above piece by David Wilcock in Issue 433 of Steam Railway in October 2014, the
following correspondence and photographs were received by the magazine from Bill Piggott:-

I knew the Bartlow-Saffron Walden line well as a child, and travelled on the last train (railbus) on the line
in 1964....one day in September 1968 I happened to be in the area so I decided to call in at Bartlow,
always a favourite station of mine, just to see if the track etc was still in situ...imagine my amazement to
find not only track in place, but a class 31 diesel shunting a steam loco ! Luckily I had my camera with
me, and captured several shots of 44781 in its pre "accident " but already chimney-less state. I had
been one of the many who witnessed  this very loco (with 44871)at Ais Gill summit on 11th August 1968,
and now here it was in deepest East Anglia...I won't, unlike your article say in Cambridgeshire, for the
loco is actually standing just in Essex, for the county boundary , as the O S map will reveal, actually
bisects the Saffron Walden branch platform. It is at this platform that the loco stands, the main station
being in the background and out of shot.

Upon enquiry I was told that the engine had arrived a day or so before to be used as a prop in the Virgin
Soldiers film, but had been bought for preservation thereafter...sadly, as we know, this later turned
out to be untrue. The class 31 had just arrived to shunt the loco into various positions so the director could
decide where he wanted it "crashed" once it had been dressed up as a Malayan engine...what a waste
of a sound engine ! I did however see the film when it came out in 1969, and the crash scene certainly
didn't look a bit like Bartlow...amazing what camera trickery can do....

On reflection I am glad to have photographed the scene, as otherwise I might have been tempted
to think I had dreamt it all up!

As a postscript I returned a few months later to find no 44781 and indeed no track .....i did however
find a signal arm dumped in the undergrowth, and this resides in my garden till this day, a memento
of a lovely and almost forgotten country junction.


(Copyright Bill Piggott)

(Copyright Bill Piggott)

(Copyright Bill Piggott)

(Copyright Bill Piggott)

(Copyright Bill Piggott)

(Copyright Bill Piggott)

By comparison to Bill Piggott's photos above taken in 1968, this image of the remains of
Bartlow signalbox was taken in 2019. (Copyright Steam Railway)



As revealed in Steam Railway magazine Issue No 498, we have discovered half of the cab roof and
a boiler tube from ‘Black Five’ No. 44781 – one of the locomotives that worked BR’s last
standard gauge steam-hauled passenger train, the ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’, on August 11 1968.

The parts were found at Bartlow, where the locomotive was scrapped after being used for the
filming of The Virgin Soldiers. Also on the site were a window frame and a fire extinguisher
from one of the LMS carriages used in the film. (Copyright Steam Railway)

After the filming, Saffron Walden businessman Gerald Pagano agreed to purchase the locomotive
and coaches from Columbia Pictures for preservation – but was unable to raise the £5,000
quoted by BR to re-rail the engine and tow it to Carnforth.

Taken on December 7 1968, this is the last known photograph of No. 44781 before it was cut
up by A. King & Sons of Norwich – in the background, the scrapmen have already demolished
the coaches. (Copyright Tim Stephens)

A similar photograph to the one above but this time in colour. (Copyright Tim Stephens)

More details of the filming, researched by Darren Kitson, can be found here:



The cab roof retains some of its original BR black paintwork, traces of BR maroon paint
and lining can still be seen on the carriage window frame, and the tube is still encrusted
with scale from 1968. (Copyright Steam Railway)


An unobstructed view of No. 45163 renumbered as No. 44781, complete with the
famous ‘1T57’ reporting number of the ‘Fifteen Guinea Special’. (Copyright Steam Railway)

With grateful thanks to Tim Breitmeyer of Bartlow Estates (for permission to explore the site and retrieve the artefacts)
and CVR volunteer James Francis (who provided transport and discovered the cab roof).