Hand-built model trains donated to Clarenville Heritage Society

Trains may not be running across Newfoundland anymore, but very soon a couple of model trains will be back on the tracks in Clarenville.
Clarenville Heritage Society President Stephen Bonnell stands next to a train that took Dr. Peter Lockwood nine years to build. Lockwood referred to the train as 'the duchess.' (Keili Bartlett/CBC)

Trains may not be running across Newfoundland anymore, but very soon a couple of model trains will be back on the tracks in Clarenville. 

The trains were donated to the Clarenville Heritage Society Museum by the family of the late ophthalmic specialist Dr. Peter Lockwood.

Lockwood built the two pieces by hand.

Society president Stephen Bonnell told CBC Radio's Central Morning Show that Lockwood's son John contacted the group last fall.  

"He wondered if we'd be interested in taking these two here for Clarenville, on the condition that eventually we'd get them up and running," he said. 

"We were excited, we couldn't believe it. We're just a small historical society here in Clarenville, and we were quite honoured that the family chose us. I think these will make great assets to our display collection."

Bonnell said each train took Lockwood years to build each piece, with incredible attention to detail. 

"The doctor was a genius and he used to make all sorts of things — planes, boats, trains — and he had a passion for all things steam, so he built steam locomotives as a hobby," he said.

"Their father took great pride in running these, giving kids a ride on the back with a little small trolley ... and the enjoyment of hearing them operate, seeing them move." 

Stephen Bonnell says the Clarenville Heritage Society is hoping to have the model trains and track operational by next summer. (Keili Bartlett/CBC)
Bonnell said the trains were last used about 10 years ago, and they need some minor refurbishment before their debut at the museum.

"There's a bit of calcium buildup, they're a bit dusty and dirty. Some cleaning needs to be done, with some linseed oil," he said.

"So it's going to be a Saturday job for us. We'll probably start with the smaller locomotive, called Jane. It weighs about 100 pounds, it's the green one, and it's the simplest one to operate."

Bonnell said the model trains are authentic, and run exclusively on coal.

"It's the real thing, and has a steam dynamo for the electricity. There's nothing in there that's fake, there's no gas motor or battery power, but real steam," he said.

"Welsh steam coal has the highest quality and it produces the highest heat content. From there the coal is loaded inside the fire box ... the locomotive tank is filled with distilled water, and there's a process where they go through raising steam. There's a blower that goes on the smokestack to get the induction up, so when the fire is there, it generates about 25 psi of steam pressure."

Bonnell said the red train, which weighs 355 pounds, took Lockwood nine years to build. 

"He started in 1972 and finished in 1981 — and it was one of his prized possessions. Dr. Lockwood referred to it as "the duchess," he said. 

"Dr. Lockwood's locomotives are based on British railways, obviously that's where he's from. He and his wife moved to St. John's in 1956, and on the property, Dr. Lockwood had 350 feet of track. So anyone from the St. John's area in model railroading, they all knew about him."  

The society, which is run by a group of volunteers, plans on having the trains operational by next summer. Bonnell said they will utilize the trains on special events, such as Clarenville Day.
The green, smaller train weighs about 100 pounds, and took Dr. Lockwood three years to build. (Keili Bartlett/CBC)

With files from Keili Bartlett

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