Can you help us bring Pannier 9681 back to life?

We are currently working on the overhaul of ex BR 57xx Pannier Tank No.9681 at Norchard. In order to help us raise vital funds to bring this historic locomotive back to steam, we are appealing for donations to support the DFLG. We have set up a PayPal page which can be accessed here:

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Any small donations would be gratefully accepted and put to good use within the DFLG.

Thank you.

Spring Update

Norchard has been quieter than normal lately, but a small band of volunteers have been hard at work under strict social distancing measures in order to carry out vital maintenance on Prairie No.5541 and a push on with Pannier No.9681 to ensure we have a replacement for 5541 when she is withdrawn for overhaul.

Prairie No.5541 has received a new brick arch and sprinkler system. Pannier No.9681’s new cab is progressing very well. The two spectacle plates, gutters, coal bars, cab shutters and various handrails and fittings have been put back onto the loco. Western Steam Engineering have been working on the new cab floor which is looking excellent.

The pistons and crossheads have returned from Tyseley and will have been fitted by the time this article goes out, all being well. Work has been progressing well on the boiler with the last of the staying being completed in March. The foundation ring will then be removed, repaired and refitted.

The Mink G is progressing very well indeed. The door locking bar guides have had the recesses cut in the first door and everything trial fitted to make sure everything  works O/K [it does]. It has been removed to enable the ongoing painting to proceed. Sometime in the next two weeks it is hoped that we can meet the signwriter  to  arrange getting the lettering done. Progress at the moment looks a bit slow, but we are into the time consuming fiddly bits now.

We are all gearing up for a return to steam in the near future and are always looking for new members to help us on our way. Please consider checking out the membership page for more details. Photos T.Halford/C.Bayliss.

Check us out on Youtube…

We have recently set up a Youtube channel to share with you visual updates of our locomotives and rolling stock. Due to national lockdown restrictions, content may not be uploaded until the Spring time, however, we are keen for you to join us, spread the word and click the ‘subscribe’ button so that you will be first in line to see our videos when we begin to upload.

Our channel can be found here: Dean Forest Locomotive Group – YouTube

Pannier Progress…

Norchard has seen a hive of (Covid safe!) activity over the Autumn, with excellent progress made on the Mink G by Doug and Richard, as well as with Pannier 9681. Tom has been coordinating works on 9681 and is currently concentrating on the cab. During November, the new roof has been drilled ready for riveting. A new front spectacle plate has been cut and fitted up. The attached photograph will illustrate the sterling work that has been put in so far. Work is set to continue on 9681 throughout the winter and in to 2021.

Look out for further updates over the winter.

Photo T.Halford

The Forest Prairie Returns…

Our iconic ex-GWR 4575 Prairie Class No.5541 has re-entered traffic at the DFR and has been handling October’s services.

Here are a selection of photographs taken by volunteers:

5541 prepares to depart Lydney Junction. Photo by A.Dickinson.
Stunning scene at Lydney Junction as 5541 departs after dark. Photo C.Walker.
5541 on the approach to Norchard High Level. Photo K.Copley
5541 in the platform at Norchard Low Level. Photo K.Copley

Mink G update – September 2020

The latest update on the Mink G by D.Phelps. Pictures supplied by R.Thacker.

At last, the rest of the timber to complete the wagon has arrived. As we had to have the roof beading and rainstrips specially made, we took the opportunity to have enough made for all our vans, including the Toad brake van, so that we only had to pay for the machine setting up time once [ the rainstrips are quite an odd shape].

Anyway, now we have the wood, we have made and painted the top boards for the ends and made the quarter boards as well. We are amazed at the amount of cutting, rebating, drilling and trial fitting we had to do around the various  roof beams, angle irons, rivets etc. With the pace of progress increasing, thoughts are turning to our other wagons, probably a Mink A  and an open.

Some of our wagons are pre 1920 so over a hundred years old. With the Fruit D and Mink G costing around £ 15,000 each and very little income from loco hire this year, lack of funds as well as labour will curtail our activities, so if you can help, in either department, please do. Just to illustrate the costs involved, as an example I include a breakdown for the machined wood that we have been waiting for, as  follows:

  • Vacuum pipe spacers                                                         £24
  • Label clip backing boards                                                  £36
  • Eight side and end boards                                                £340
  • Hardwood door heads/lintels                                          £540
  • Hardwood rainstrip                                                             £318
  • Hardwood beading                                                             £303


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