The locomotive was ordered by Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons on the 18th April 1924 for a cost of £1,800 and was then despatched new to Bushey and Oxhey Station, near Watford. It was used here on McAlpines contract to construct the Watford bypass which was constructed between 1924-1926 for the Hertfordshire County Council. It carried a livery of dark blue with white lining and carried large plates lettered ‘SIR ROBERT McALPINE & SONS No. 46.’

No. 46 worked on several of the McAlpines contracts, including Tilbury Docks (1926-1929), the Southampton Docks extension (1929-1933), the Cheddar Reservoir contract for the Bristol and Minehead corporations in 1933, and the reconstruction of two steel works in the south of Wales, these being the Cardiff (East Moors Plant) of British Iron and Steel Co. Ltd (1933-1935) and the Ebbw Vale works of Richard Thomas & Co. Ltd (1936-1938). From there it returned to the McAlpine Depot at Hayes in Middlesex by the 2nd October 1938.

McAlpine then sold No.46 to John Mowlem & Co by January 1940, who renamed the locomotive ‘Hayle’. ‘Hayle’ was used in the construction of Swynnerton Royal Ordnance Factory, near Stone in Staffordshire. By 1943 however, ‘Hayle’ was stood in store along with six other locomotives at Mowlem’s yard in Hatfield. The Wissington Light Railway was a network of lines which connected the BSC factory at Downham Market with the LNER Stoke Ferry branch line, and many of the farms across the neighbouring fens.

The Ministry of Agriculture purchased ‘Hayle’ from Mowlem’s yard, and was delivered by road by Pickfords Road Transport to the Methwold end of the Wissington Railway. Here its livery was changed to green, lined with black and yellow edging, and ‘HAYLE’ painted on its tanks in yellow with red shading. Here it was used across the fen lines carrying freight from the farms and factories to the mainline sidings where the wagons could be taken across the country. Around May 1947, ‘Hayle’ was sent to Doncaster works, where it received a complete overhaul, and was outshopped in unlined black livery with ‘HAYLE’ and ‘WISSINGTON LOCO’ painted on the tank sides. It was used as a works shunter at Doncaster works for a short period of time before returning to the Wissington Railway. ‘HAYLE’ was popularly known on the Wissington Railway as ‘Haile Selassie’ after the Emperor of Ethiopia. In July 1957, ‘HAYLE’ was sold to Thos. W. Ward Ltd, together with the track and fitments of the Wissington Railway after the lines closure.

‘HAYLE’ was purchased by Derek Crouch (Contractors) Ltd “DC(C)”, for use at an open cast coal working in Widderington, Northumberland. During this period 1539 was named ‘Derek Crouch’. It remained at the works until 1970, when it was moved and placed in storage in Eye, on the outskirts of Peterborough. In 1972 ‘Derek Crouch’ was placed on permanent loan to the then Peterborough Railway Society (PRS – now the Nene Valley Railway) where it was restored to Derek Crouch house colours, and then was returned to steam the following year.

In April 1974, under the auspices of the PRS, ‘Derek Crouch’ pulled the first train on the railway, and subsequently appeared at society steam days. ‘Derek Crouch’ was then employed on light shunting duties around Wansford, but in 1982 the locomotive was taken out of traffic, not due to any issues with the locomotive, just the reason of its lack of power meant it had little use to be steamed. The locomotive was then placed on static display at the main entrance to the Wansford site. It stayed here until August 1994 when it was moved to make way for the construction of the new station building.

It was then repainted from the Derek Crouch house colours of maroon to light green. Since then it has spent its time sitting in various locations around Wansford yard, until early 2011, where it was moved to the centre shed for Cosmetic Repair.

After all the repairs and repaint had been carried out and the locos cosmetic overhaul finished, it was positioned as a cab accessible locomotive outside the station building, where ‘Jacks Green’ has been positioned for the past few years, allowing that loco a chance to spend some time out of the elements and give the visitors something different to look at. The forming of the ‘NVR Small Loco Group’ gives the opportunity to raise money to help fund any further work, and potentially carry out a full mechanical overhaul of Derek Crouch to return it to steam.

DEREK CROUCH LTD. - 1539 DEREK CROUCH
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