The classic Gresley Class A4 Pacific locomotive, Bittern, will arrive in Thanet on June 2 for storage and eventual public display.
Bittern is a sister locomotive to the world steam record holding “Mallard” and will be housed at the newly prepared facility in Margate operated by Locomotive Storage Ltd.
Locomotive Storage operates a storage and maintenance business for classic railway locomotives and heritage rolling stock.
Its main depot facility is in Crewe but the company also bought the former Hornby site at Westwood in February 2017.
Since then the main warehouse has undergone extensive engineering works to prepare for the arrival of the first railway vehicles. Seven railway tracks have been laid in the warehouse, with access loading docks to facilitate the unloading and loading of locomotives and carriages. It is expected that up to 30 items of rolling stock will eventually be housed there.
Bittern weighs 102 tonnes and its tender weighs 30 tonnes unladen (before coal and water). They will travel from Crewe on a convoy of low-loaders and Bittern will be the first steam locomotive exhibit in the new facility.
Locomotive Storage Limited is working closely with Hornby, whose Visitor Centre continues to occupy part of the Margate site.
The choice of the Thanet site for development of the Locomotive Storage facility was influenced by the obvious link with Hornby.
Operations from the site between 1954 and 2015 were firstly as a new factory for Hornby’s rival, Tri-ang Railways, and then when Tri-Ang’s owner, Lines Brothers, bought Hornby’s parent, Meccano, under the merged banner of Tri-Ang Hornby.