In last week’s Peeps into the Past, we shared reader Alan Park’s childhood memories of the Longmoor Military Railway, and queried whether anyone knew what had happened to the Hunslet AD 196 Errol Lonsdale locomotive that starred in The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery.

He recalled it had been moved to the Watercress Line and it didn’t take long for the responses to steam in, including from Alan himself, who has discovered that the once local loco now resides at Stoomcentrum, Maldegem, in Flanders, Belgium.

“The loco currently resides in southern Belgium, a long way from Hampshire,” confirmed another Peeps reader, Christopher Purdie, who like Alan shared a link to a very informative article online at giving more information on the well-travelled locomotive.

The article reveals: “The AD 196 was built in 1953 for the Ministry of Defence by the Hunslet Engine Company to the design used to supply to the Ministry of Defence and is thus regarded as an Austerity type locomotive.

“It was delivered new to the Longmoor Military Railway in March 1953. It moved to Bicester in June 1955 and then Honeybourne in Worcestershire three months later. Until it moved to the Kent & East Sussex Railway in June 1970 it was deployed at Bicester, Long Marston and the Longmoor Military Railway. It was named Errol Lonsdale in January 1968.

“It gained stardom in the film The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery when it appeared with a number of St Trinian’s pupils on the footplate. The locomotive was purchased by John Bunch and Jean Atherden for preservation on the Mid Hants Railway.

“It enabled the Mid Hants Railway to open as it was a stipulation of the Department for Transport to have a spare locomotive available in the event a train broke down and required rescuing between stations.

“The locomotive was named Errol Lonsdale again in March 1978 by Major General Errol Lonsdale, Colonel Commandant of the Royal Corps of Transport from 1969 to 1974.

“It moved to the South Devon Railway (SDR) in October 1991, which was in the early days of operation by the South Devon Railway Trust, and was soon put into service hauling even the heaviest trains.

“It was repainted from LMR blue livery and given BR black livery and the number 68011, although it was never owned by BR. The real 68011 was built in 1944 by the Hunslet Engine Company and was scrapped in 1965.

“The locomotive was sold by the SDR in 2009 and in 2017 was in northern Belgium at the Stoomcentrum.

“At the end of 2021 the locomotive was taken out of service when it was due for its three-year hydraulic test in line with Belgian legal requirements. It returned to traffic in September 2022 at the Chemin de Fer a Vapeur des 3 Vallees (Three Valleys Steam Railway) in southern Belgium at the Mariembourg Steam Festival.”

So it seems the old Longmoor loco is still going strong!