Well-known West Country artist Alan Ward has brought the historic Fry’s Sentinel shunter back to life in a new painting. The locomotive is resplendent in its royal blue livery with steam billowing as it makes its way along the tracks at the Fry’s factory at Somerdale, where from 1928 it was a familiar sight. Mr Ward’s painting is based on a black and white photo of the Sentinel and volunteers working on the restoration of the real thing say they are confident it is how the locomotive will look once they have completed the project in a few years’ time.
The 85-year-old Sentinel shunter was retired from the chocolate factory in 1956, where it moved trucks and wagons along the site’s two-mile railway track. Remarkably it survived intact, although falling into disrepair, for several decades before ending up in the care of Avon Valley Railway in 2010. A team of volunteers at the popular family attraction are now regularly working on the locomotive to carry out repairs, remove rust and ultimately return it to its former glory.
David Cole, Avon Valley Railway development manager, said: “The painting by Alan Ward of Fry’s Sentinel in all her glory is not just a wonderful glimpse of the past, it also serves as a vision of the future for the locomotive as restoration work continues. I’m sure it will give the volunteers even greater incentive to carry on their hard work and will show others what we are trying to achieve.”
The painting was commissioned by volunteer George Colbourne to help raise funds for the restoration project, with limited edition fine art prints now for sale. Each will be numbered and signed by the artist and are available in sizes 20″ x 16″ at £35 and 12″ x 10″ at £17.50. Anyone who wishes to purchase a print can contact Mr Colbourne on 0117 986 2858 with their order.