The LNWR Coal Tank is owned by the National Trust and is in the care of the Bahamas Locomotive Society.
As engine No.1054, it was built at the Crewe works of the London & North Western Railway in September 1888. It was the 250th example of a total of 300 ‘6-wheels coupled side tank coal engines’ or, as they were more popularly known, Coal Tanks.
Originally built with only a handbrake, the equipment for working the automatic vacuum brake of passenger trains was fitted sometime between 1895 and 1900. Train heating equipment, for keeping the passengers warm, was installed during 1902.
The engine is understood to have worked from Aston in 1911 and Edge Hill during 1919, from where it moved to Abergavenny in South Wales.
The engine became part of the stock of the LMS during the grouping of 1923, but did not receive its LMS engine number until March 1926, when it became 7799.
At that time the engine was allocated to Bangor, but returned to Abergavenny during October 1930.
In February 1936, 7799 moved to Shrewsbury from where it was withdrawn from service in January 1939. At this time it had travelled over 880,000 miles during its 51 years of active service. It joined a long line of locomotives at Crewe Works waiting to be scrapped, but was reprieved as a consequence of the growing political tensions in Europe.
During December 1940 the engine was overhauled and put back in to service and sent to the Manchester area, where it worked from Patricroft. After twelve months it returned once more to Shrewsbury. The engine was fitted with equipment for working motor, or push-and-pull, trains and moved to Warrington followed, in 1947, by a spell at Plodder Lane in Bolton.
In October 1949 it received its British Railway number of 58926 and found use at Bletchley, and again at Shrewsbury, before loan to the National Coal Board in 1954.
As the last surviving member of the class, the engine was put into store at Abergavenny, where it was fitted with a snow plough in event of disruptive snowfalls during the winter months. It was brought out of storage to assist with the last passenger train over the Merthyr & Abergavenny Railway, a special excursion organised by the Stephenson Locomotive Society, which ran on 5th January 1958.
Immediately after this trip, 58926 moved to Pontypool Road where, for a short time, it was used as a stationary boiler. After some 70 years of service it was finally withdrawn during November 1958 and moved to Crewe for scrapping.
For the second time in its existence, 58926 languished at Crewe Works. An attempt to raise funds to buy the engine and prevent it being scrapped was spearheaded by J M Dunn. Dunn, the former shedmaster at Bangor, organised the Webb Coal Tank Engine Preservation Fund, and within 6 months had raised the purchase price of £500, thus becoming the first engine to be purchased for preservation by public subscription. At a cost of £150, the engine was repainted into LNWR livery at Crewe works.
In 1961, and now carrying its former LNWR engine No. 1054, the engine was taken to Hednesford in the care of the Railway Preservation Society’ Midland’s Area Group. During 1963, No.1054 was donated to the National Trust and moved to Penryhn Castle in North Wales. Although now on display to the public, the accommodation prevented any long term conservation work and so arrangements were made for the engine to be cared for by the Bahamas Locomotive Society. As a consequence, it moved to the Dinting Railway Centre in 1973 where it was restored to operational condition in time for it to take part in the 150th anniversary celebration, during 1980, of the opening of the Liverpool & Manchester Railway.
The engine was regularly operated at Dinting, worked a series of trains for the Wilsons brewery from Manchester during 1984 and, significantly, during 1986, worked a special train from Shrewsbury to Stockport organised by the SLS to celebrate the 80th birthday of William Arthur Camwell, the man who had organised the special in 1958, using the same engine, on the last train from Abergavenny to Merthyr.
The engine has recently undergone its third overhaul by Society volunteers at its Ingrow Loco workshop on the KWVR, financially assisted by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It made its first appearance in traffic at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway gala in February 2012, and during that year took on its former identities as British Railways No.58926 and LMS Railway No.7799. For 2013 the engine reverted to its LNWR identity as No.1054, visiting the Great Central Railway in April, and the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway and the NRM’s ‘Locomotion’ at Shildon during September.
1054 celebrated its 125th ‘birthday’ during the ‘Coal Tank 125′ event on the KWVR, in October. During this event it was presented with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Engineering Heritage Award by past president Professor Isobel Pollock.
Visit www.coaltank.co.uk for more information.