New cab roof for Pannier 9681

Today, BR 57xx Pannier Tank No.9681 had its new cab roof dropped on for fitting and drilling. Once drilled, the cab roof will be rivetted on to its angles. New cab spectacle plates will be ordered and fitted in due course. This is a great step forward in the restoration of this loco which is continuing at Norchard.

Photo T.Halford
Photo T.Halford

Whilst the Pannier was being shunted into the ‘tin tunnel,’ DFLG volunteer Richard Thacker snapped a rare photograph which we must share with our followers. All three DFLG locos together in one photo. 5541 was in use as yard shunter.

All three DFLG locos in one photo. Left Pannier 9682, Centre Pannier 9681 and Right, Prairie 5541. Photo R.Thacker.

DFLG shop items added to website

Whilst we do not have an online shop, we have added a list of some of the fantastic items of railway memorabilia, models and more that we have for sale at our Norchard base. Please visit the new shop page at for further details. Please note that whilst every attempt will be made to regularly update the page as items sell, items may be displayed online that have been sold. It is advised to email for the latest updates and to arrange purchases.


June 2020 Update

Well it has certainly been an interesting and un-expected few months!
With lock down restrictions being fully adhered to and the emergency measures in place, our priorities have been to protect the safety of our dedicated team of volunteers. This being the case, all restoration work at Norchard was suspended. However, this doesn’t mean we have stopped altogether. We have carried on as best as we can from garden sheds, home workshops and kitchen tables. Tom Halford has re-bushed and re-pinned the fire hole door mechanism for 9681 and machined the new fire hole door castings at his home. A number of other small components/fittings have also been repaired/refurbished for 5541 and 9681 off site. We have worked with Railway to put in place Risk Assessments and Safe Ways of Working to carry out some time critical tasks. This recently allowed two ‘fully briefed’ members of the team to work under strict social distancing and health protection measures to re-assemble 5541 ready for the Annual Boiler Inspections. This was delayed from April and again in June and is now planned for July.
A number of other parts for 5541 have been machined off-site including the right hand big end bush which had the white metal bore skimmed out after being pressed in. The motion of the locomotive was then reassembled ready for when the locomotive is needed. The 6 new super-heater elements for 5541 have been fabricated, tested and delivered to Norchard. These were assembled off site by a coded welder. They have now been installed in the locomotive prior to its cold and hot exam. The boiler pressure and steam heating gauges have been calibrated and professionally cleaned at a specialist firm in Bristol and returned by post. These have been refitted in advance of the boiler exams. We are constantly reviewing and managing our finances very carefully as our sources of income have stopped. However, we do need to make sure we have a high level of availability of 5541 when operations resume. To help achieve this we have ordered six new driving wheel springs and associated spring bolts. We have also ordered material to fabricate a new centre firebar bearer. The down time has proven useful for getting on top of most of the larger maintenance jobs on the locomotive. However a steam locomotive is always a source of continual maintenance issues.

Lastly but not least, we have been revamping and updating the the DFLG website. Have a look at

Matt Sexton & Tom Halford

Mink G Update by D.Phelps – May 2020

It is some time since we last reported on progress on the “G” as it has become known. The sides and ends have been replanked except for the top ones which were promised for November 2019. At that time a late delivery was not a problem as there was plenty of other work to get on with, including making and fitting the doors. Each of the eight doors consist of five vertical planks on the outside secured to twelve horizontal ones on the inside, each of the internal planks being screwed to the external ones using 12 one and three quarter inch by number twelve woodscrews, that’s 1152 holes to be drilled and screws to be fitted, thank goodness for electric screwdrivers! The doors are now made and fitted and make the van look complete, this is unfortunately not the case. We still have to fit the roof canvas, for this we need access all around the roof which is not possible since the van was moved to accommodate contractors working on none DFR related projects. We were hoping that with the onset of good weather we could do the job outside, however COVID 19 put paid to that. Until we can obtain the door heads we cannot fit the door furniture, and until the top planks are available, we cannot fit the fly screens and internal vent plates either, all very frustrating.

Thoughts have now turned to setting up a small wood machine shop so that we are not
so dependant on outside suppliers. The problem here is that there is nowhere on the DFR to set one up, unless we can be a bit imaginative. Initial thoughts were to fit up a shipping container, but when you look around at the spread of these unrailwaylike, unattractive monstrosities, we looked for a more palatable alternative. It occurred to us, that with the imminent transfer of the society’s Collett coach to the DFLG, that here is a space approximately fifty seven feet by nine, so why not in there? As full restoration of the interior is many years away, the plan therefore is to make the coach weatherproof and to repaint the exterior to make it presentable, and install some basic
woodworking machinery. So if anyone knows of, or can supply (cheaply) things like circular saw benches, bandsaws, planers, router tables etc, then please contact the DFLG. As we move toward rebuilding the coaches these things will become essential.

Another problem that needs addressing urgently is the lack of space to do anything. The DFLG has a number of wagons including two GW Opens that are in desperate need of renovation, but nowhere to start the work on site, which is particularly galling as we frequently have to turn down offers of help because we don’t have unskilled tasks [like needle gunning/derusting etc]for the casual jobseeker to do.

We have to remind ourselves from time to time why we are doing all this, apart from
personal satisfaction that is:

  • [1] to provide the DFR with the resources to recreate [A] a GW/WR branch passenger train [B] a GW/WR branch goods train
  • [2] to show later generations the history of these trains and railways as they used to be as well as giving them a pleasant day out.

Also this history should include relevant infrastructure, such as that rather nice GW lattice mast signal at Parkend, a colour light just wouldn’t be right. It is very easy to allow ourselves to be distracted by the need to spend all our time and resources on running and maintaining what we have in front of us and pushing everything else into the background, that is just stagnating and not progressing.

The DFLG has set itself an ambitious and mammoth task, but as everyone knows, the
longest journey starts with the first step, the trick is not to lose sight of the destination. The DFLG has taken the first step to achieve its aims by acquiring the necessary items to enable it to do so. For newly joined members or those who don’t know, these are
Three GW/WR steam engines
Two soon to be three GW coaches
Twelve GW/WR wagons
We have started step 2 by restoring one steam engine soon to be two, and two wagons soon to be three. So you see it is good not to be satisfied with the status quo but to have ambition [a bit of drive helps too] with the forgoing in mind, any contributions large or small in manpower, money or materials to the DFLG Rolling Relics Restorations would be very gratefully accepted [after all, everyone knows how important the 3Rs are].

With thanks to D.Phelps for the text and R.Thacker for the photos.

Spring Maintenance

Update from Norchard

Posted by Dean Forest Locomotive Group on Friday, 10 April 2020

Hear from our CME Paul Sandles in the video above for a quick update from Norchard.

Before the UK went in to lockdown, some photographs were taken of current projects. The photos below show 5541 undergoing some piston maintenance, and the ongoing rebuild of 9681, with her new bunker in place. A mentioned in the last blog post, work is still ongoing in various volunteer’s home workshops to ensure 5541 is ready for the start of the season, whenever that may be.

All photos taken by C.Bayliss in March 2020.

If you would like to get involved with the DFLG, please visit the membership page. We are always looking for new members and will warmly welcome you to Norchard when the ‘green light’ has been received by the UK Government.

Update April 2020

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 global crisis, many heritage railways and locomotive groups find themselves in a difficult position. Planned and ongoing works cannot progress at the rate they usually would, and trains cannot run until certainty on the decline of the situation is sought.

That said, we at the DFLG want to assure our supporters that whilst conventional works cannot take place currently, small jobs are being undertaken by volunteers within the confines of their homes to ensure that as soon as we get the ‘green light’ from the government, we can set about our usual activities on site in as much of a position of strength as possible.

Balancing and piston works have taken place on Prairie No.5541 to ensure it is ready for when we return. Fundraising continues to help support recent acquisition 9682. There is plenty still happening and we look forward to getting back to work on our list of projects when it is safe to do so.

See you soon.