For almost four decades, Green Arrow was the epitome of the most versatile and powerful of locomotives, and nearly 75 years since it left the famous Doncaster Plant Works, it has returned to the South Yorkshire town to take centre-stage at a new museum dedicated to the nation’s railway heritage.
Together with an array of rare artefacts from the famous Doncaster Grammar School Railway Collection and other exhibits, the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum is set to open this year. Green Arrow will sit alongside another locomotive, Great Northern Railway Atlantic Class No. 251, which was built in Doncaster in 1902, at the rail heritage centre.
The Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, said: “The incredibly popular Green Arrow, together with the No. 251 locomotive, will spearhead a remarkable display of our great railway heritage, with many enthralling items going on public display for the very first time.
“They tell a compelling story of the golden age of steam and the major contribution Doncaster has made to the rail industry.”
Built in 1936, Green Arrow was the first of the V2 class locomotives to be constructed and it is the last surviving British 2-6-2 tender locomotive.
It continued in service during the nationalisation of the railways and was eventually withdrawn from operation in 1962.
Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, the V2 class was derived from the Class A1/A3 Pacifics, and construction continued from 1936 to 1944 despite the impact of the Second World War.
After its withdrawal from service 59 years ago, Green Arrow was selected for preservation and eventually returned to working order in 1972. It steamed, on and off, until 2008 when its boiler certificate expired.
Its return to the town where it was built has been achieved through a partnership between Doncaster Council and the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York.
Green Arrow travelled to Doncaster by road from the NRM’s sister attraction, Locomotion in Shildon in County Durham, and a team of specialist conservators and rail operations staff manoeuvred the historic locomotive into place over a period of 48 hours.
Andrew McLean, the NRM’s assistant director and head curator, said: “We are thrilled to be working alongside Doncaster Council to share the story of this fascinating locomotive.
“In the longer term we still see an operational future for Green Arrow, as outlined in our operational vehicle strategy. But for now to see this locomotive to return to where it was built will be a sight to behold.”
Another key element of the new museum is the Doncaster Grammar School Railway Collection. The archive began in the 1930s when pupils and teachers at the school, now Hall Cross Academy, set up a railway society.
Its members created one of the most important collections of its kind including signs, nameplates, lamps, signal posts and thousands of other rail-related artefacts.
The collection is currently archived in the former Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, and a selection of items will feature in the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum.