London & North Western Railway 0-6-2T 'Coal Tank' No. 1054

A real survivor, saved by WW2

Without the outbreak of war 1054 (then LMS no. 7799) would have been visiting the breakers as it was withdrawn from service on the day before war was declared. With a need for motive power, 7799 was restored to service and lasted for another 19 years.

When eventually withdrawn, the locomotive was bought privately before passing to the National Trust and eventually handed to the Bahamas Locomotive Society for safe keeping.

132 years young, a true veteran

Built in 1888, reprieved from the scrapman by WW2 in 1939, 1054 eventually served the national network for 70 years before passing into preservation after being sent for scrap for the second time.

Privately preserved initially, 1054 was given to the National Trust and, in time, was passed into the stewardship of the Bahamas Locomotive Society at Dinting, testimony to the care bestowed on their own locomotive, 45596 ‘Bahamas’.

Information

Data File

Built: 1888 Crewe
Boiler Pressure: 150 psi
Tractive Effort: 18,140 lbf
Weight 43.75 tons
Valve Gear: Stephenson
Cylinders: 17″x24″ Inside
Numbers carried during working career: LNWR 1054, London Midland & Scottish 7799, British Railways 58926

A Houdini-esque escape from the cutters torch

During the late 19th century, the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London and North Western Railway, Francis William Webb, designed a 0-6-0 tender engine for hauling freight (predominantly coal traffic) and this became known as the “Coal Engine”. These engines were not, however, really suited to use on other aspects of local or branch line working. So, by replacing the tender with a set of side tanks for the water, extending the frames of the engine at the rear with an extra set of wheels and adding the bunker for the coal, the so-called ‘Coal Tanks’ were born. The first of these “Coal Tanks” were introduced in 1881 and, over 16 years, the fleet expanded until a total of 300 examples had been produced. Over time, the design also proved to be highly suitable for hauling passenger trains and they were soon to be found working all over the LNWR system.

No. 1054 was produced at the LNWR’S Crewe works and entered service in 1888 as the 250th example of its class to be produced. Much of its early working life is not known but it is thought to have worked in the Birmingham area prior to the First World War and then, after the war, in both South and North Wales. It was withdrawn from service on the eve of the Second World War in January 1939. Had it not been for the outbreak of the war this engine would almost certainly have been scrapped by the London Midland & Scottish Railway (who then owned the engine after the grouping of the county’s railways into four large companies in 1923). Due to an increased demand on the railways during war-time, a number of older engines were reprieved from scrapping, were overhauled instead and returned to service. No. 1054 (by this time renumbered 7799) was one such engine.

By 1950, this Coal Tank was to be found at Shrewsbury working local passenger services and by 1954 the locomotive had moved to Abergavenny from where it was loaned to the National Coal Board with two class mates for a period of 12 months. At the end of its loan period the engine was kept as a spare at Abergavenny and, after working the last train on the Abergavenny to Merthyr line with a Super D Class 0-8-0, it was withdrawn from traffic at Pontypool in 1958 and sent to Crewe once again for an appointment with the scrapman.

Into preservation, a vintage icon

Now carrying its BR numbered, 58926, for the second time in its existence, this 70 year old veteran languished at Crewe Works to await its fate. However, once again, the ‘Coal Tank’ had a saviour. Mr. J. M. Dunn, the former shedmaster at Bangor, set up the Webb Coal Tank Engine Preservation Fund, the £500 purchase price being raised within six months, so spawning the cult of railway preservation by public subscription.

Before leaving Crewe, the ‘Coal Tank’ was repainted in LNWR livery and regained its original number. In 1963, 1054 was donated to the National Trust and moved to Penryhn Castle in North Wales, before that organisation made arrangements for its care by the Bahamas Locomotive Society (BLS) and it moved to the Dinting Railway Centre in 1973 being restored there to operational condition in time for it to take part in the 150th anniversary celebration in 1980, of the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway.

1054 made its final move when BLS moved to Ingrow in 1990. A third overhaul, financially assisted by the Heritage Lottery Fund, was completed February 2012, and during that year took on its former identities as British Railways No.58926 and LMS Railway No.7799. However by November 2019, the boiler was showing its age and 1054 was retired to Ingrow on the 3rd of that month to await its next overhaul.