A bottle of Reepham-brewed ale was used at the official launch of a 10-year restoration project of a steam locomotive at Bressingham Steam & Gardens near Diss.
The bottle of Black Panther from Reepham’s Panther Brewery was poured by David Bramhall, secretary and treasurer of the Norfolk Heritage Steam Railway, over the buffer beam of the 3193 “Norfolk Regiment”, which ran in public for the first time at the Bressingham Steam Gala held on 4 May.
“It should be noted that David did not pour the whole bottle over the buffers,” said Peter Brennan, the charitable trust’s publicity officer. “He was seen soon after ensuring it was fully drained in a more traditional manner.”
3193 was built at the Hunslet engine works in Leeds in 1944 for the Army. The locomotive ended its military life at the Cairnryan Military Railway in south-west Scotland, where it was painted black.
It was then sold to the Coal Board, which used it for shunting coal and coke at mines and coking plants.
In 1977 it was knocked on its side by some runaway wagons and put out of use, and then went into preservation first at Butterley in Derbyshire, and later on the Lavender Line at Isfield in East Sussex.
Norfolk Heritage Steam Railway, now a registered charity, was formed by a small group of enthusiasts to buy and restore 3193, acquiring the locomotive in 2009 after it had been dismantled for heavy boilerwork.
From Yaxham, where it was reassembled, it was moved by a huge lorry to Bressingham in November 2017.
3193 will eventually be hired out to various preserved railways, most of which do not own their own engines.