Watercress Line

A Change of Engine

Last month we swapped Canadian Pacific for Wadebridge!

It wasn’t too confusing at least both engines were designed by Oliver Bulleid so we knew what we were talking about. The only issue was remembering the name of the engine! Not only was it not Canadian Pacific but Wadebridge decided to have an identity crisis and become 34019 Bideford. It was confusion all around.

To raise money for the restoration of Canadian Pacific we decided to purchase 34019 smokebox number plates for Wadebridge. Each day of the gala we put a new smokebox number plate onto Wadebridge. These will be put up for sale, with the first one now on sale in the shop at Alresford (see picture). So, keep an eye out if you would like to own one of these. Each one comes with its own certificate (with the date it was on the loco) and photograph, with all proceeds going to the restoration of 35005 Canadian Pacific.

To complete Wadebridge’s transformation to Bideford, the nameplate was removed and the loco weathered. With the help of Oliver Collins, Wadebridge was cosmetically altered to recreate the last day of steam; including a poignant message of ‘Don’t’ let me die!’ on the smokebox. The cosmetic alteration of the engine didn’t cause any damage to the loco with the effect being created with the use of poster paints. We just kept our fingers crossed that it didn’t rain or all our efforts would be washed away!

Both weekends were a success. We were happily surprised by the draw Wadebridge had as Bideford for the gala. It was wonderful that so many people found our recreation of the end of Southern steam so poignant and moving. It was definitely well photographed throughout the gala. It wasn’t just the loco that got some attention! For those who were at Ropley yard in the morning of the gala, the team changing the smokebox number plate became a photograph opportunity.

In between the two gala weekends, an exhibition in Eastleigh Museum was installed about the Canadian Pacific Project. The exhibition covers the life of 35005 Canadian Pacific and its restoration, along with giving visitors an insight into the varied HLF supported project. We tried to include some fun facts for kids such as Canadian Pacific weighs roughly the same amount as 13 African Elephants. Just one of the odd bits of information that I have picked up working on this project. The exhibition was officially opened by Cllr Maureen Sollitt whose mother worked in Eastleigh during WWII. The exhibition is in Eastleigh Museum until 9th September, the museum is open Tuesday to Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm. 

For many months, we had been working closely with Eastleigh Borough Council to create an event around one of the railways engines in Eastleigh town centre. Friday 14th July saw the start of the weekend with the moving of Wadebridge to Eastleigh town centre. It all seemed to be going to plan with the engine all loaded on the low-loader by 5.30pm. Unfortunately, our time schedule was to go out the window when the low-loader broke down on the M3. Eventually, it arrived and it was finally unloaded in the early hours of Saturday morning. The ‘Celebration of Steam’ Event had started!

Wadebridge still bearing 34019 Bideford smokebox number plate was situated in Market Place right outside Poundland. Eastleigh Borough Council had constructed a platform beside the engine so visitors could view the footplate of the loco up close. Visitors were delighted to stories from ex-driver Geoff Burch and even heard what it was like to be inside the firebox from volunteer Peter Reynolds, who cleans the engines on a Monday. We also had a small stand next to the locomotive with information about our events and a few other bits. Everyone was very excited to see a steam locomotive in the centre of Eastleigh town centre.

The event was a roaring success. All those involved in the planning were surprised with the turn out over the weekend. It was a wonderful opportunity for us all to share our enthusiasm about these engines and inform people about everything that we do at the railway. It was an event not to miss and people are still talking about it. We definitely made an impact.


We sadly said goodbye to Project Supervisor, Dave Deane on 2nd July and we wish him all the best in his new job. A huge thank you to all the staff and volunteers who helped us out over the gala and for the Eastleigh event, without your help neither would have been a success for us.

Thanks for reading

Becky, Outreach and Interpretation Officer


Please help support the progress of the Canadian Pacific project to bring back our flagship steam locomotive and two Bulleid carriages back to life by clicking here.  You can do this by Sponsoring a Stay or making a donation. Don't forget that we need to raise funds to complete the overhaul, especially as a new firebox is costing an extra £120,000, so all support is very much needed and appreciated. To sign up to the newsletter, please click here.​

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