SOUTHERN Water is searching for a traction steam engine driver after he left villagers without water.

The driver of the slow-moving steam engine left several homes in Itchen Abbas near Winchester with no supply after a hydrant was tampered with.

In a statement on Tuesday Southern Water said: “This is an unusual situation and we will be carrying out an investigation.

“Part of that will be to hopefully find the person or company involved so we can speak to them about the use of hydrants and explain the risks.”

The engine trundles along at about five miles per hour but the identity of the driver was unavailable.

Several homes lost their water supply after a steam engine driver tampered with a hydrant.

It is understood the driver stopped to get water for the engine in Little Hayes Lane last Friday evening but accidentally damaged the hydrant, causing a leak.

Ten homes lost their supply for around 40 minutes while Southern Water engineers raced to the scene and fixed the hydrant.

The utility company has also launched an investigation into the damage.

A Southern Water spokeswoman apologised for the supply interruption but warned people not to interfere with hydrants.

She said: “We responded to reports from people in Itchen Abbas that water was flowing across the carriageway and were told a steam engine accessed the supply through a hydrant but during that operation the hydrant was damaged and that caused the leak.

“We have been out and repaired it by 8pm and we have launched an investigation because people should not be accessing hydrants without our permission. They should not tamper with the supply.

“We apologise for any inconvenience and we were on the scene as quickly as we could be.”

Police were also called but the engine had left by the time they arrived and a spokesman confirmed they were not taking the matter further.

It is understood the engine was on its way to a steam fair.