Krauss Pacific locomotive No.8457, along with fourteen others, was designed by Roland Martens, a contemporary of renowned UK designer Henry Greenly (whose chief works include River Esk and engines on the RH&DR), and built by the German locomotive manufacturer Krauss of Munich. These locos were built from 1925, this particular one in 1929. Three more locomotives (bringing the grand total to eighteen) were built to a slightly modified design by Krupp of Essen in the 1930s. Those familiar with other UK fifteen-inch gauge railways might know Black Prince (RH&DR) or Rosenkavalier and Männertreu (Waveney Valley Railway at Bressingham), the three Krupps; visitors to park railways in Germany and Austria might have come across several of the Krauss engines still at work today (there are two in Dresden, one in Leipzig, two in Vienna (plus the chassis from a third working under a diesel engine) and three more in Stuttgart. Of all the Martens locos built, only Rosenkavalier (1976 centenary celebrations) and Black Prince (1982 and 1990 seasons) have run at Ravenglass, but in the latter case especially lies the proof of the compatability of this type of engine with our operation.
Number 8457, along with the unrestored chassis of No.8473, are two of four machines built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exposition in Seville that year. Their construction, apparently, was sponsored by King Alfonso, because the earlier Krauss locos were already in the hands of promoter Eric Brangsch and booked to run at Barcelona in separatist Catalonia. While the Brangsch locos worked all over Europe (Antwerp, Toulouse, Rotterdam, Cork), in the years that followed the 1929 exposition the Seville locos stayed put, having run daily through the fourteen-month event duration and then only occasionally until 1932.
The Spanish Civil War then intervened, the four locos escaping damage and being left in store until the 1960s, when No.8455 was steamed to run at a park attraction in Madrid, while 8457 and 8473 donated wheelsets alternately for use under a diesel engine. Put another way, No.8457 has worked only the tiniest fraction of its eighty-six-year life.
When the park in Madrid ceased operating, a Barcelona-based group acquired the locomotives and coaches, hoping to start a railway along the seafront in Mataró. Owing to difficulties encountered with legistlative bodies in Spain, this has not happened, but restoration of the locomotives has continued. Locomotive 8455 was completed and sold to the Killesbergbahn in Stuttgart, Germany, in October 2014, following which time work on No.8457 has advanced significantly, with construction of a brand new tender body occurring only just before our visit. It is interesting to note that it was the tenders which carried the ‘locomotive’ names in times past, and these were sometimes swapped around, but No.8455, having had its tender so-named, became Santa María.
The next phase of the locomotives history began in October 2015, when a team from the R&ER visited the workshop in Barcelona to investigate the condition of the locomotive. They found that the locomotive is in excellent condition and in a nearly complete state. The boiler and frames are in a condition consistent with the reported low use over the first years of its life in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and subsequent storage, and are effectively ‘as new’.