A SURVIVOR of Britain’s railway past that has travelled many miles in its working life has been restored – to become a national treasure for many keen to see a glimpse of its Victorian origins.
Yesterday, a locomotive with a place in the history of the end steam on Britain’s railways hauled passengers for the first time in many years – in a commemorative train on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.
The London and North Western Railway (LNWR) company’s “coal tank” number 1054 was built 124 years ago and has been patiently restored.
John Hillier, director of the Ingrow-based Bahamas Locomotive Society, which carried out the work, said: “It’s an icon of the Victorian age and there’s so much interest in this engine.
“There are not very many Victorian engines that are preserved in this condition and I think that’s one of the reasons it has captured the public’s imagination.”
The work has taken volunteers about seven years and absorbed an estimated 13,000 man hours getting the locomotive back into pristine condition.
The extensive overhaul was supported by a £154,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Mr Hillier said interest in the engine had been huge
Later this week, it will receive a visit from 90-year-old Glyn Norman, from Derbyshire, who was a fireman on the engine in the 1950s.
Mr Hillier said: “We have got a few people who have not seen this engine since the 1950s and people are overcome with emotion.”
The locomotive was built at the LNWR’s works in Crewe in 1888.
Yesterday, guests saw 1054 in the black unlined LNWR livery it would have had in 1888.
However, those behind the restoration project said that, given the changes to its external appearance, it is now more properly representative of its condition in the early 1920s.
Mr Hillier said yesterday was special for all those involved in the restoration and all those interested in the project.
He added: “I think its the realisation of a dream really.
“Some people never thought that they would see this engine again.”
Yesterday, invited guests including representatives from its owners – the National Trust – and the Heritage Lottery Fund took a trip along the Worth Valley line to mark the occasion.
Steam and the two red and cream coloured carriages presented a picturesque contrast to the snow-covered fields beside the heritage route.
Although the locomotive was originally withdrawn from service in 1939, it was brought back into use after the outbreak of the Second World War.
Retirement finally came towards the end of steam traction on Britain’s railways – in 1958.
Its place in heritage railway history was established when it then became the first locomotive to be saved by public fundraising.
The engine was later presented to the National Trust and, since 1973, it has been in the care of the Bahamas Locomotive Society.
Society members carried out a first restoration – bringing 1054 back into steam in May 1980, 22 years after its last outing.
A career on Britain’s burgeoning heritage railways came to an end when its boiler certificate was withdrawn.
However, society members rallied to the rescue for a second time – and, in 2010, as part of a second restoration, a new cylinder block was fitted.
The block was lowered into the engine frames after the casting was delivered to the locomotive workshops at Ingrow, near Keighley.
A search through the archives at the National Railway Museum at York unearthed design drawings from the LNWR Crewe works, dated 1888, which were used to make the replacement block.
The engine’s appeal is such and demand for its appearance so great that it will travel to several places and events next year – including more trips between Keighley and Oxenhope.
A locomotive designed to haul slow freight trains now has another future – bringing delight to heritage railway passengers.