In the last three decades of steam, G.W.R. locomotives of the 14XX class were ever present on the Marlow to Bourne End “Marlow Donkey” line.

These were built in the 1930s, designed by C.B.Cobbett. 1421, 1466 and 1450 were the most commonly seen locally, but the latter has always been my personal favourite since I was thrilled to get a ride in the cab to Bourne End at the age of 9.

My mother was acquainted with the regular driver Mr Orr, but he may have been bending a few Western Region rules letting me on board.

1450 still survives, originally on the Dart Valley line, up until 1994 when enthusiast Mike Little bought her and repainted the original G.W.R. livery.

Although now most usually located at the Dean Forest Railway, where I saw her six years ago, she frequently “guests” on other lines and Railway Centres, although for obvious reasons life has been fairly quiet over the last 18 months. The other three still “alive” are 1466, 1420 and 1442.

It was fitting that 1450 made a nostalgic return to Marlow on a rainy Sunday, July 15th 1973, when the Centenary of the Marlow to Bourne End line was celebrated in style.

The line from Maidenhead to Bourne End and originally to High Wycombe is considerably older.

Three pictures above show 1450 getting plenty of attention, and I must thank Les Tindall for the top one at Bourne End Station and John Syred for the middle two at Marlow.

Top right is 1450 on the cover of a Dean Forest Railway timetable. The three lower pictures (thanks to Malcolm Ranieri for these) are of 1450 in various locations and liveries – on the Dart Valley line, the East Lancs Railway and at Didcot.

Two other and considerably larger preserved Western Region steam locomotives also hauled popular trips between Maidenhead and Marlow on that celebration Sunday. They were Hall Class 6998 “Burton Agnes Hall” and tank engine 6106, this being one of the sturdy class affectionately known as “Tanner-Wunners” by young train spotters.

I was never exactly a train spotter myself, in the sense of standing for hours on draughty railway stations ticking off numbers in “Ian Allen” booklets, but I have always been fascinated by the magic of steam and take a special interest in all the Welsh Narrow Gauge lines.

I also have nice action pictures of “Burton Agnes Hall” and 6106 taken on that memorable July 1973 day, but, assuming I last that long, I will save then for 2023 when we can do a 150th Anniversary column.

Contact Michael at or 01628 486571