The ‘Coal Tank’, One of the country's oldest working locos returns to steam in the snow at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.
One of the country's most historically important locomotives was officially relaunched into service at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway on February 8. The 1888-built ex-LNWR 'Coal Tank' loco No. 1054 has been restored to running order by the Bahamas Locomotive Society (BLS) on behalf of its owners the National Trust, with major funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and help from the archives at the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York.
The Victorian loco has been described as one of the 20 most important locos because it represents a bridge between early locomotives and those of the 20th Century.
The K&WVR event saw No. 1054 haul a special train formed of two coaches owned by the Vintage Carriages Trust. It carried representatives of the BLS, National Trust, HLF, NRM and other VIPs on a full round trip over the scenic West Yorkshire line. Later it hauled a demonstration goods train and made several run-pasts at Ingrow before going on display in the station yard in the evening. Two days later the loco was a star attraction at the K&WVR's Winter Steam Gala from February 10-12.
No. 1054 was built by the London & North Western Railway in September 1888 - one of a class of 300 engines based on an 1881 design. During its 70 years in service it worked from sheds at Aston, Edge Hill, Abergavenny, Bangor, Shrewsbury, Patricroft, Warrington, Plodder Lane, Bletchley, Craven Arms and Abercynon, and also worked on loan for the NCB for a period.
January 1939 saw the engine, then numbered 7799, withdrawn but it was reprieved as a result of World War II. In the early 1950s it had little work; no mileage was recorded in 1953 and ran for just 13 in 1957.
It was withdrawn as No. 58926 on 1 November 1958, but became the very first locomotive to be saved for preservation from funds raised by public subscription. It was bought for £500 in September 1960. After a visit to Crewe for repainting into LNWR livery, No. 1054 had a spell at the Railway Preservation Society’s Hednesford site before its ownership transferred to the National Trust in August 1963. It moved to Penrhyn Castle near Bangor in March 1964.
As restoration was not really possible at Penryn, the National Trust asked the BLS to become custodian of the loco and it was moved to the BLS's then headquarters at Dinting Railway Centre on the outskirts of Manchester in September 1973. Here is was restored and steamed for the first time in preservation on May 1980. The loco moved with the BLS to Ingrow in April 1990 and remained in use at various heritage lines until its boiler certificate ran out in December 1998.
Following a second extensive overhaul, supported by a £154,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and 13,000 man-hours of work, No. 1054 steamed again on 28 October 2011.
During the rest of 2012 the loco will embark on a series of visits around the country, including the Llangollen Railway in April, the rail.co.uk-supported 'Railfest’ at the NRM in June, and the Severn Valley Railway in September.