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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 20 - Summer 1974

Sentinelitis - by John Hutchings

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J R Fairman - No. 8571 at Quainton, Easter 1974

I am suffering from Sentinelitis. This affliction appears to be rather prevalent at Quainton and I firmly believe Alan Bolton has spread the ailment. The symptoms are a complete addiction to the products of Sentinel Ltd., of Shrewsbury. My first contact with the problem was about four years ago when I was surprised and delighted to meet Alan again after a lapse of a number of years. When we were youngsters we had both been madly enthusiastic number takers and Alan was always the party leader on our escapades, so it was good to be reunited with him at Quainton.

It is likely that the birth or onset of the disease stemmed from contact with Alan's first Sentinel locomotive which he had obtained from Tottenham Gasworks and brought to our depot in August, 1970. At first I thought this new arrival was a bit uninspiring; in fact, just a box and not a proper locomotive. However, as Alan progressed on the restoration-of his Sentinel, I frequently wandered across to see what made the engine tick and after a while I became quite impressed. The working parts were all nice and accessible, steam could be raised very quickly from cold and it was then used very economically. What more could you ask? The common sense of the Sentinel design converted me to a fan in less than a year. I was another potential victim of Sentinelitis!

At the Easter 1971 Open Days Alan brought his immaculately restored Sentinel Road Tractor, The Elephant, to Quainton and I was given the rare chance of firing and later of driving the machine. Then, on 2nd May of the same year, Alan invited me to be the third man on a Sentinel wagon which another of Alan's friends had entered for the Brighton Run. I accepted! Without doubt, this trip from Battersea to Brighton on the Heavy Commercial Vehicle Club's Rally clinched the devotion I have since felt for Sentinels.

We had a marvellous day. I well recall the hard job it was firing the wagon on the main road in heavy traffic south of Gatwick.

The next development of the illness is the craving to have one's own Sentinel! Alan kept a look out for one and in October 1971 I became the proud owner of a DG-6 Sentinel six wheeled wagon, maker's No. 8590. Guess where I took her on her first outing? To Quainton, of course! She appeared at most of our Open Days in 1972 and 1973 and as a highlight of 1972 I was able to drive my own Sentinel in the Brighton Run.

At the end of 1973 there came an opportunity too good to miss; the chance of buying a Sentinel four wheeled wagon, a beautiful vehicle in excellent mechanical condition which I had already greatly admired. This was No.8571, a DG-4P, completed in August 1931 and registered KF 6482 for Samuel Banner & Co., Oil Refiners and Distillers of Bootie, Liverpool. Six years later they sold her and she became Fleet No. 6 of Paul Bros. Homepride Flour Mills, Birkenhead. In 1949 her working days were over and was purchased for preservation by Mr E N Shone and moved to Cricklewood. Without doubt she was only the second Sentinel to be purchased for this purpose and we know that 8571 attended some of the first traction engine rallies held in the early fifties at Andover.

I acquired my latest Sentinel from Mr Shone in February 1974 and she was still in the Paul Bros. livery to which she was restored in 1971. Sadly I couldn't keep two wagons and so, on 7th April No. 8590 steamed away to another good home at Farnham with two friends who seem to have caught Sentinelitis too!

I do hope the Quainton Open Days have benefited by having the Sentinels on show for the past five years. My newly purchased four wheeler made its debut at Easter this year and there was a lot of interest shown in the wheel changing exploits we demonstrated to visitors and members. On 18th May we took her to Brill to collect some lengths of the original Brill tramway for Quainton. It was, perhaps, a pity the load could not come by rail but at least it did come back by Sentinel steam!

I would like to thank most sincerely my friend Alan Bolton and also Chambers Engineering of Waddesdon. Without their help this story could not have been told and I might have been a firetube man all my life without ever having had the pleasure of becoming a happy addict to the Sentinels.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1974 and so does not reflect events in the 40+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

Sentinelitis - by John Hutchings - Quainton News No. 20 - Summer 1974

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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