The restoration of a 100-year-old locomotive has taken a step forward thanks to a donation from global real estate advisor, CBRE.

The Urie Locomotive Society (ULS), based at Ropley on the Watercress Line, is currently working to bring S15 No. 499, one of the last surviving Robert Urie-designed engines, back to its original condition.

CBRE has donated more than £850, to pay for the hundreds of new boiler stays which are an internal structural element of a boiler.

Sam Wyatt, surveying executive at CBRE Southampton, has been the ULS volunteer coordinator since 2022 after being involved with the Watercress Line since 2016.

He has clocked more than 550 volunteering hours, which has been matched financially by CBRE and in recognition of his efforts, Sam was named as one of CBRE’s top volunteers worldwide in 2023.

He said: “The railway is one big family. I love learning traditional skills and the physical work involved, which contrasts with my desk job, as well as the fact it is an escape from our modern, digital world. All the hard work is worth it when we see the enjoyment the railway brings to so many people. We are keeping this important heritage alive that would otherwise be lost, and there is a lot that younger generations can learn from experiencing it.

“Volunteering has many personal benefits but also has a huge impact on small charities. At the Urie Locomotive Society alone, volunteer labour is worth over £100,000 each year and CBRE’s donation has tangible impact”.

Mark Pedley, chairman of the ULS, said: “As a small charity, volunteering and generous donations like this from CBRE make a huge difference in our activities. Our ambition is to preserve these historic engines so future generations can enjoy them and have a window into our past. This donation will undoubtedly help us do this.”

Engine 499 was designed as a fast freight engine by Robert Urie for the London and South Western Railway and was constructed in 1920. It was sold for scrap by British Railways in 1964.

The ULS saved 499, one of the last surviving Urie engines, from a scrap yard at Barry Island in South Wales. The restoration project has been going on intermittently since it arrived at the Watercress Line in 1983. After a massive rebuild, the front 14 feet of the main frames have been replaced and boiler repairs are now underway. The ULS hope to complete 499 within the next few years.