Sir William McAlpine
Lawrie's big goal in life was to own his own locomotive. Not just a model, but a proper engine. Having almost purchased one, he was very much in the market for a Ruston 48, the type of locomotive that once pulled up the MSLR, and a chance email to Sir William McAlpine led to one of Lawrie's finest moments.
Current Status - Stopped awaiting work to wheelset
The locomotive was built by Ruston in Lincoln in 1951 as works number 294266, and purchased by James Crocker Papermills in Cumbria. Operating on the Burneside Tramway, which serves three papermills around a mile and a half in length. 294266 spent its time there bringing in the raw materials and exporting the finished products, and a few photos exist of it at this time (much to Lawrie's excitement). The line was closed in 1974, and the locomotive was moved to Steamtown Carnforth, where Sir William had a controlling share. The engine was used for a breif time as the yard shunter, brushing buffers with such greats as Sir Nigel Gresley, Pendennis Castle and the World Famous Flying Scotsman. Having been undable to stop in a shunt involving a Black 5, the locomotive was side-lined and abandoned in a siding. At some point during it's stay at Carnforth, it was repainted blue, and was named the Flying Flea. When Sir William left Carnforth in 1990, he took the little Ruston with him to his home railway of Fawley Hill. It was renamed Sir William, it received substantial work at Fawley, having a full engine rebuild and a new cab. It was repainted in red and received a bell, but aside from being used in the yearly Christmas nativity for Father Christmas to arrive on, it saw no use, bar one run up the infamous 1 in 13 bank.
When Lawrie was looking for a Ruston 48, he thought his best place to start was to update the 15 year old list on where all the Ruston 48's had gone, and which still survived, and whilst working on a film as a driver, it filled his month of free time very easily, and following an enquiry to see if the locomotive was still about, Sir William replied personally, and suggested the locomotive was available for disposal.
Arrangements were made for a visit, and the locomotive was fired up for the first time in years and enjoyed a short drive. Lawrie and Sir William bartered, and a deal struck - one that Lawrie had to email the next day to just confirm what has actually happened.
The locomotive moved the following October, coming to its new home of the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway where it received a repaint and other recommissioning touches.
It was used by the MSLR for a while as the yard shunter and PW locomotive, before heading to re open the the Leiston Works Railway.
On it's fitness to run inspection on it's return to the MSLR it was decided that the locomotives wheelsets showed excessive wear and it was stopped until such time that could be rectified.
At the time of writing the best quote Lawrie can find is £10,500 for the work to be carried out.