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• Coal Engine 8309. During the early 1940s this engine carried the boiler that is now on 1054, photo from the Mike Bentley collection.

• No.615 as originally built, with sloping smokebox door, wooden brake blocks, and plain un-varnished black livery,
photo from the Mike Bentley collection.

• 7799 withdrawn at Crewe in May 1939, from a photo by Bill Potter, from the Mark Hoofe collection.
 
 
• 58926 withdrawn from service at Pontypool Road
in 1958, from a photo by
Robin Dean.

 

• 1054 in Penrhyn Castle, from photo by Hubert Parrish.
• The cover of the guide book to the Dinting Railway Centre shows 1054 next to ex LMS 'Royal Scot' No.6115 Scots Guardsman.

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Side Tank Coal Engines

The 'Coal Tank' was built by the London & North Western Railway at Crewe Works. It was the 250th example of the class of 4'-3" Side Tank Coal Engines that were designed by the Chief Engineer of the LNWR, Francis W Webb.

The design was based on Webb's 0-6-0 'Coal Engine' introduced in 1873. The 'Coal Engine' was the first locomotive produced under Webb's direction as Chief Engineer. These simple, cheap, but effective locomotives carried the coal and water supply in a separate tender.

To provide an engine with greater operational flexibility over shorter journeys, Webb produced a tank engine version whereby the coal and water were carried on the engine's own frames. An additional pair of carrying wheels was utilised to help carry this extra weight. This new design of 'Side Tank Coal Engine' - or 'Coal Tank', as they became more commonly known - was introduced in 1881 and 300 examples were built over a period of 16 years.

They were originally intended for short-distance freight work, but were found to be very useful for local passenger trains and were soon at work all over the LNWR system. The early engines were painted plain black, but later engines were turned out in the fully lined-out black passenger livery.

 

1054 - Public Service

'Coal Tank' number 1054 entered service in 1888, became number 7799 in the ownership of the LMS Railway after the grouping in 1923, and then carried 58926 under British Railways after the railways were nationalised in 1948.

Not much is known of the engine's early service, but it is understood to have worked in the Birmingham area before the First World War, and in North and South Wales before it was withdrawn from service in January 1939. The locomotive was almost scrapped but for the outbreak of war, when it was overhauled and reinstated in December 1940, a consequence of the shortage of locomotives required for the war effort.

The locomotive 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 class mates 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' 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.

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1054 - Preservation

'The British Transport Commission require £666 for this engine in order to satisfy their auditors, and are pressing for a substantial remittance on account. Please send what you can afford to save this gentle and homely relic of a more tranquil age from the
oxy-acetylene cutting apparatus.'

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 funds to buy 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.

During 1963, Mr Dunn and his supporters arranged for 1054 to be transferred into the ownership of the National Trust for display at Penrhyn Castle 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 Dinting Railway Centre near Glossop in Derbyshire.

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 near Liverpool. This was held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the 'trials' won by George Stephenson's famous Rocket, and the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830.

In the years since, 1054 has performed reliably and well.

As well as its use on brake van rides at the Dinting Railway Centre before closure in 1990, and on Vintage trains on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, it has worked on several heritage railways including the Severn Valley Railway, Llangollen Railway, and the Battlefield Line.

1054 was taken out of service in 1999 for its third and most extensive overhaul since it was bought for preservation over 45 years ago. This was completed, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, during 2011.

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