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In 1893 Alfred Dodman & Co of King's Lynn built what seems to have been the only railway locomotive manufactured in Norfolk. She was known as Gazelle and is an exceptionally small locomotive, reminding the management of the Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway of one of Rowland Emett's illustrations.

Gazelle when new at King's Lynn, looking rather like a
child's pull-along toy when seen alongside a 'real' locomotive.



Gazelle on the Shropshire and Montgomeryshire Railway after rebuilding to 0-4-2 configuration, with a repurposed tram. The cramped 'dog kennel' arrangement at the back of the cab is to protect about four passengers from the worst of the weather.


Emett anticipating 'steampunk' by several decades in this illustration of a 'landau' which evokes some of the aspects of Gazelle, albeit with considerably more luxurious seating than Gazelle's 'dog kennel'.

Nigel asked: 'Shouldn't Dodman's Gazelle only run on old straight track?' The answer is, in part, revealed herewith:

From the pages of a long-since defunct magazine called The Ley Hunter, inspired by Alfred Watkins' book The Old Straight Track. Also helps to know that 'dodman' is a dialect word for snail. See also Lines on the Landscape and the book of the same title.

Why Muntjac?

Reeves's muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) is the smallest of the British deer. Adults are solitary, except for mating, and most active at dusk (so fitting in with Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway's crepescular inclinations).

The species is not native to Britain and was first introduced by the then Duke of Bedford to the grounds of Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire during the nineteenth century. A small number escaped around 1925. Since the 1940s Reeves's muntjac have escaped from Whipsnade Zoo in much larger numbers and these, in addition to other releases, are the more likely ancestors of the rapidly-growing population in England and parts of Wales.

When Gazelle was named in 1895 it seems likely that few people in Britain knew about muntjac deer. However Muntjac does seem a most appropriate name for a diminutive vehicle. And the creatures' crepescular inclinations make it a 'must' for the Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway.


So far little in the way of construction. A motor and suitable gears are to hand. The wheels have been sourced but not purchased – this will be the first time the Jackdaw Works team have attempted to scratchbuild coupled wheels, so wish them luck.

The boiler, smokebox, firebox and cab will probably be constructed in a similar manner to Nellie.

However this project is a fair way down the 'to do list'.


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Images and text copyright Bob Trubshaw 2018–2021