It's all change at Chinnor as 999 arrives.
The Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway has changed locomotives over the August Bank Holiday period saying goodbye to on August 21. Ex-GWR 57XX Class No 5786, which was on hire from the South Devon Railway, returns to Devon after being at the railway from March.
For the last fortnight of its work at Chinnor, it was re-numbered as 5766, a long lost classmate that was based at Slough depot (81B) and worked regularly over the Watlington branch.
The Pannier has been replaced by an express passenger tank engine hired from the East Anglian Railway Museum at Chappel Station, near Sudbury. It is an ex Great Eastern Railway Class L77 (LNER Class N7) 0-6-2 tank No 69621. It was derived from a design by A J Hill and introduced in 1915 and No 69621 was constructed at Stratford Works entering traffic in March 1924 numbered 999.
This was soon changed to 7999 under the LNER numbering system and in 1946 she became No 9621 with the LNER. Built with both the Westinghouse and Vacuum brake she was also fitted with condensing gear which was later removed. Originally carrying a Belpaire Firebox she was rebuilt with a round-top firebox during 1946 and entered service with a right hand driving position with later examples left hand drive.
The engine was initially based at Stratford (East London) Depot and used on Enfield and Colchester trains before being re-allocated to Wood Street Depot and used on the Epping branch. Between 1951 and 1954 she was based at Colwick Depot and used on Derby - Nottingham - Grantham trains and by the late 1950’s she was back at Stratford Depot being utilised on the Enfield and Colchester services until they became electrified.
The early 1960’s saw her as a spare loco at Stratford and she would be withdrawn from service by British Railways in September 1962 whilst there. Chinnor volunteer Driver, John Webb, used to work on this class of engine which he started his railway career at Hatfield Depot in 1953.
He fired and drove to Luton, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard and later on the ‘Widened Lines’ to Moorgate, Johns knowledge in operating the class was put to good use on a training day at Chinnor whose crews are more used to Great Western locomotives. (See the b & w photos of these lines taken by Duncan Hutchinson).
Hatfield Connections and reunion at Chinnor
There will be a Hatfield re-union in October with three or four other people associated with the class of engine. This will include Rail.co.uk’s Phil Marsh who had the honour of being the fireman to John Webb on the training day at Chinnor – he used to pay John’s wages nearly 40 years ago as a booking clerk! Phil has also a Hatfield connection watching John at work as a young train spotter before being lucky enough to fire steam engines through Hatfield in the last few years.
The engine will remain at Chinnor until the end of October and will be available to drive and fire on Steam Locomotive courses.