Great granddad rebuilds First World War steam engine in his back garden in Leyland

Jack Cuerden just never runs out of steam. run story on to bottom of page

Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 11:14 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th September 2019, 12:14 pm
Jack at work on the engine

However, the great granddad is taking a well-earned rest after fully renovating a dilapidated First World War steam engine in his back garden.

Jack started the project at the age of 72, six-and-a-half years ago.

Now the biggest engineering job of his life has been completed and the engine will soon be heading to Ffestiniog Railway.

The steam engine

“It came in as a lot of scrap, really,” said Jack, who lives with his wife Eileen on Midge Hall Lane.

They have eight grandchildren and three great grand children

Jack served an apprenticeship as a railway fitter at Horwich.

He was approached by Graham Fairhurst, a founder member of the West Lancs Railway, who had bought the steam engine, and wanted Jack to restore it back to its former glory.

Work is under way on the engine

Jack explained that the engine was made by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, USA.

It was used in France during the Great War. It ended up in India operating on the North West Frontier before being sold to a sugar refinery in the country. When the refinery closed it was made redundant and just lay rotting away before being brought back to England.

The renovation was a real challenge.

“The main thing was handling the heavier weighted thing - it’s a bulky thing, not a toy,” said Jack. “It’s 11 tons in working order.

Jack on the engine

“It’s a matter of being able to lift it with hydraulic jacks.

“The frame was actually bent. Quite a lot of items were missing off it.”

Jack carried out the project in his workshop at the back of his house.

Did he ever get fed up and think, what have I done here?

“It does pass through your mind I’ve a bit of a job - but you just keep going at it,” he confessed. “There’s quite a lot of love in it, and frustration at other times.

“It’s like a job. I suppose I am quite pleased it’s gone now, really. It’s a hard thing to do on your own.”

Jack even overcame serious illness to carry on the work.

He said: “In 2017 I contracted sepsis, so I was laid up for a few weeks overcoming that.”

Now it’s over, will he be taking on a new project?

“Are you kidding?” Jack laughed.

Jack’s daughter, Catherine Titherington, proudly revealing her father’s work through social media, described him as a “true legend” and asked people to comment and share the post with their friends.