At around the same time as Graham was building his garden railway the engineering company he then owned, the LH Group, acquired the Hunslet Engine Company. As many railway enthusiasts will know, in 1971 Hunslet completed the last industrial steam locomotive to be built in the UK. It had been ordered by Robert Hudson & Co Ltd, a Leeds-based supplier of anything from a single wagon to a complete railway system, for delivery to the Trangkil sugar mill estate in Indonesia.
The obvious challenge for Graham was therefore to secure the return of such a historically significant locomotive to the UK for preservation and further use at Statfold. Negotiations were conducted via Hunslet’s agent in Jakarta and Graham visited Java to conclude the transaction and supervise the loading of TRANGKIL No. 4 for the journey home.
That visit also allowed Graham to visit a number of sugar mills where a variety of early 20th century European-built locomotives remained in existence; some working on a regular basis, others stored but still steamable and some derelict and only fit for scrap. Having ensured that the ‘last’ Hunslet had been preserved, Graham’s next challenge was to save examples of other builders’ work. Pakis Baru and Sragi mills stood out as having interesting locomotive fleets and two examples from German manufacturers were acquired from each. However, before any of the locomotives could be shipped to the UK they had to be steamed in order to demonstrate that they were leaving in working order and thus satisfy an Indonesian Government regulation forbidding the export of scrap metal.
But the five substantial narrow gauge locomotives acquired from Trangkil, Pakis Baru and Sragi were really too large for the garden railway and needed their own railway to run on, not least as they were of two different gauges, and so the Statfold Barn Railway you see today was born.