1054 on the GCR - Norman Bates

No.1054 on the GCR - Norman Bates

No.1054, an LNWR Coal Tank, was built at Crewe and entered service in 1888, becoming No.7799 on the LMS Railway after the grouping in 1923, and then carried No.58926 under British Railways after the railways were nationalised in 1948.

It is thought to have worked in the Birmingham area before the First World War, and in North and South Wales before it was withdrawn from service in January, 1939. It was almost scrapped but for the outbreak of war it was overhauled and re-instated to traffic in December, 1940, a consequence of the shortage of locomotives required for the war effort.

No.7799 continued to move around the country. It operated in the Manchester area working local trains from Bolton, and the Liverpool area from Edge Hill, before moving south to Bletchley where it worked the local passenger service to Dunstable.

In 1950 it was at Shrewsbury, again working local passenger trains this time to Craven Arms and, after four years, moved to Abergavenny from where it was loaned to the National Coal Board for 12 months working alongside two of its classmates at Windsor Colliery in Ynysybwl near Pontypridd. It returned to Abergavenny as the last survivor of its type and, incidentally, the last Webb-designed locomotive in operation. It was kept as a spare engine and fitted with a snowplough during the winter months in case of heavy snowfalls on the line. It is doubtful, however, if it was ever utilized in this role.

After working the last train on the Abergavenny to Merthyr line with 0-8-0 Super D No.49121 it ended its days at Ponytpool, where it was finally withdrawn for scrap in 1958, having travelled over one million miles in 70 years of public service.

There the story might have ended, but for a group of determined enthusiasts headed by Max Dunn. Mr Dunn, the former Shedmaster from the locomotive depot at Bangor, was persuaded by a friend to organise an appeal to raise the £666 required by the British Transport Commission to buy No.1054. The appeal was successful, and he then arranged for it to be repainted in LNWR livery at Crewe, following which it went to Hednesford in Staffordshire for safe storage by the Railway Preservation Society.

1054 at Quorn & Woodhouse - Cliff Jones

No.1054 at Quorn & Woodhouse - Cliff Jones

During 1963, Mr Dunn and his supporters arranged for No.1054 to be transferred into the ownership of the National Trust for display at PenrhynCastle in North Wales, not far from where the engine worked in the 1920s.

Although Penrhyn provided public access in safe and secure surroundings, facilities for effectively exhibiting the locomotive were limited. After nine years at Penrhyn, and with the growth of railway preservation groups providing improved facilities, some of the locomotive's original trustees arranged for the engine to be cared for by the Bahamas Locomotive Society at their former GCR single road engine shed at the Dinting Railway Centre near Glossop.

In 1980 the engine was overhauled, put into working order, and restored to the LNWR condition in which it would have appeared just prior to the First World War. In May that year it attended the great exhibition at Rainhill held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Locomotive Trials won by George Stephenson's famous Rocket in 1830.

In the years since, No.1054 has performed reliably and well.

No.1054 came to the GCR for the first Swithland Steam Gala in 2013.

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