A locomotive with a place in preservation history

After a working life of 45 years, 43924, was consigned to the scrapyard of Woodham Bros. in Barry, South Wales. It secured its place in preservation folklore in 1970 becoming the very first of over 200 locomotives to leave the scrapyard for a life in preservation when a small band of enthusiasts, operating under the name of ‘The 4F Society’, finally gained permission to purchase and remove it.

Completed by the Midland Railway in 1920, 3924, as it was numbered then, spent only 3 years in their ownership, 25 years with the LMS and finally 17 years with British Railways. Bought for preservation in 1970 by The 4F Society, 43924 was sold 20 years later to the KWVR and has, therefore, as this is being written in 2020, been in our ownership for longer than any of its predecessors.

Data File

Built: 1920 Derby
Boiler Pressure: 175 psi
Tractive Effort: 24,560 lbf
Weight: 48.75 tons engine 41.2 tons tender
Valve Gear: Stephenson
Cylinders: 20″ x 26″ Inside
Numbers carried during working career: MR 3924, LMS 3924, BR 43924

Derby to Barry, pre-preservation history

The Midland Railway 3835 Class of locomotive, introduced in 1911, was the final development of the Midland Railway 0-6-0 design, having evolved over many years. The building was now designated as Class 4F, the building was continued by the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) continued after the 1923 grouping, the class eventually totalling 772. Of this, 192 were built for the Midland Railway and 5 for the Somerset & Dorset Railway (all of which were taken into LMS stock in I923) with the building a further 575 locomotives.

All the LMS’s major workshops were involved in constructing this class, as were several outside locomotive manufacturers. Built at the Midland Railway works at Derby, no. 3924 entered service in 1920 with a 3,500 gallon tender of the Midland pattern with a curved top and coal rails, as can be seen in the photograph above. Now numbered 43924, the locomotive was finally withdrawn by British Railways in June 1965, now fitted with a Fowler tender, believed fitted in 1951 as carried to this day. Its later years were spent working in the Gloucester area being allocated to Gloucester (Barnwood) and then to Bristol (Barrow Road). Upon withdrawal from service the engine, like many more before it, was sold for scrap, thankfully to Woodham Bros. of Barry in South Wales.

After displaying much enthusiasm and persistence, a small band of enthusiasts finally gained permission to purchase and remove the engine from Woodham’s scrapyard. In this respect no. 43924 has a special place in preservation history by becoming the first of over 200 locomotives to be rescued from this single scrapyard. It arrived at Haworth in the summer of 1970 but after so many years out of traffic, it required a complete re-tube of the boiler and the replacement of non-ferrous fittings before re-enter traffic. After a successful steam test, the engine started its preservation career in earnest in 1974 as LMS no. 3924.

Regulations regarding boiler overhauls were very different in those early days and 43924 remained in service until 20th December 1987. During those 13 years, the 4F carried its BR number, 43924, initially with post-1948 British Railways on the tender. With the tender tank showing the ravages of time, the tender from ‘Crab’ 42765 was borrowed until withdrawal. The late BR emblem was applied to the tender and, interestingly, the engine carried the diagonal yellow stripe on the cab side (probably the first (and only?) ex BR engine in preservation to do so), denoting that an engine was not to be used under the wires south of Crewe. (Although 43924 did not carry such an adornment whilst in BR service some 4Fs did.)

Although withdrawn in 1987, it would be 23 years before the sound of the 4F would be heard again climbing the Pennine hills. It was in about 2004 that the locomotive moved up the priority list and came onto the ten-year plan, returning to service after a thorough overhaul on 2nd July 2011 in the livery carried in its final years with BR.

43924 has been a regular and popular performer ever since and has ventured away from the Railway, visiting Bombardier at Derby, for 175 years of train manufacture and featuring in galas at the Severn Valley and West Somerset Railways. Finally, 43924 is now added to the list of KWVR celebrities to feature on the big screen starring in Testament of Youth and Swallows & Amazons, plus more to follow.

The Big Goods Engine bows out after a 6-month extension of the boiler certificate, which finally expired on New Years Eve 2021. The loco went out on a high note with a week of hauling six coaches on the Mince Pie Specials,  even with two superheaters blocked off. Adding another filming credit to its ever-growing list before the expiration of the boiler certificate, the loco will also feature in the Railway Children Return, filmed in the summer of 2021 and released in the summer of 2022.

The loco is displayed in Oxenhope Exhibition Shed.