Kerr, Stuart & Co Ltd No. 2451 ‘AXE’


AXE is our own resident loco being jointly owned by all the members of the L&B Trust. She was the first of five Joffre Class locos in the UK to return to operational steam.

Her chimney was a gift to the Trust from life-long narrow gauge enthusiast the late Colin Pealling and originally adorned Sgt Murphy Kerr Stuart No. 3117 of 1918.

When first restored AXE was fitted with air brakes to enable operation of the Thorpe Park Carriages. With arrival of the vacuum fitted heritage carriages, AXE was fitted with chopper couplings, and vacuum braking.

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Kerr, Stuart & Co Ltd No. 2451 was built at Stoke-on-Trent in 1915. A side and well tank locomotive, it was one of seventy 60cm gauge "Joffre" Class (named after the French First World War Commander) ordered by the French government for service on the Western Front.

In May 1924, spares were sent to the Kent Construction & Engineering Company Ltd. Later owned by Ets. Riffier, Macon, Saone et Loire.

Later (about 1932) to Carrières de la Vallée Heureuse et du Haut Banc, Marquise Rinxent, Pas de Calais.

Around 1956, 2451 along with four sister locos, was found lying derelict by British enthusiasts at Rinxent having been out of service for almost ten years.


Photo taken in 1963 by Mr D. Trevor Rowe of two of the Joffre's at the stone quarry at Marquise Rinxent, Pas de Calais - With thanks to the Moseley Trust

In 1974 all five locos - thought to be the only survivors of the class - were repatriated to the UK. No. 2405 went to the West Lancashire Light Railway near Southport. The others including 2451 by 1976 were stored at the Pen-yr-Orsedd Quarry Museum in North Wales and later in 1978 at Gloddfa Ganol, Blaenau Ffestiniog where 2442, 3010 and 3014 were given a coat of paint, while 2451 remained unpainted.

Purchased by the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Association in 1983 for £2750, it was hoped that the loco would be in steam by September 1985! Christened AXE in line with the L&B's policy of naming its locos after three-letter Devon rivers, Members laboured for many years and progress was naturally slow. She was eventually transferred to the Gartell Light Railway at Templecombe in Somerset who completed the work for us.

AXE first steamed at the railway as part of her dedication ceremony by the Bishop of Exeter on November 11th 2008. With eventual completion in January 2009, she arrived back at the railway for steam trials and hauled her first revenue earning passenger service on March 1st 2009.

For more details visit the Axe Project page HERE

AXE Specifications

Gauge: 1 ft. 11 5/8 in. (600 mm.)
Cylinders: 8 1/2 in. diam. x 11 in. stroke
Valve Gear:  Walschaerts
Wheel Dia.: 1’ 11 5/8"
Wheel Base: 4 ft. 7 1/8 in.
Working Boiler Pressure:  178 lbs. per sq. in.
Water Tanks (Side and Well): 264 gallons
Coal capacity: 10 cwt
Heating Surface: Tubes 165.55 sq. ft.
Heating Surface: Firebox 23.25 sq. ft.
Heating Surface: Total 188.80 sq. ft.
Grate Area: 3.97 sq. ft.
Approximate Weight: empty 8 tons 4 cwt.
Approximate Weight: working order 10 tons 8 cwt.
Tractive Power:  3862 lbs.
Length: 15 ft. 6 1/8 in.
Width: 5 ft. 3 3/4 in.
Height: 8 ft. 6 1/4 in.