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Memories of factory's own steam engine

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 25, 2014

The Sentinel Shunter was a familiar sight at Fry's Somerdale factory, in Keynsham, for decades, and after being recently rediscovered, the locomotive is being restored to its former glory at the Avon Valley Railway, near Bristol

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The fascinating story of an historic locomotive – from working life, to retirement, ruin and now restoration – is being told in a series of online videos.

The volunteers lovingly returning the Sentinel Shunter to its former glory have created the short films which follow the little engine on its 86-year journey from daily service at Fry's Somerdale chocolate factory in the 1920s to the 1950s to narrowly escaping the scrapyard in the decades that followed.

Former Fry's engineering apprentice Eric Miles tells viewers how he refused to give up his five-year search for the locomotive, which was built in 1928, finally tracking it down and bringing it home to the West Country in 2009.

Now in the care of Avon Valley Railway, the team's aim is to restore the Sentinel to how it would have looked in its heyday on the tracks at Somerdale – and now the public can see how work is progressing in the films published on YouTube.

In the first film, The Somerdale Shunter, Mr Miles explains how he was amused to see such a little engine "pottering about" at the factory site when he arrived for a job interview, where he was offered the apprenticeship.

He said: "It wasn't long before I was around the back of the workshops, flagging down the loco and persuading the driver to let me ride on the footplate."

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