Philadelphia to Grosmont

By Chris Cubitt

The first 0-6-2T from one of the former National Coal Board systems that I encountered was Gordon from South Hetton (former Taff Vale Railway Class '01' No 28). In 1962, I was an engine cleaner at BR, Thornaby depot when Gordon was running under its own steam from South Hetton to Caerphilly. It ran hot. Gordon was taken into the repair shop and on to the wheel-drops, repaired, and sent on its way.

Before long, I encountered the Lambton 0-6-2Ts when passing Penshaw while I was working freight trains along the former Leamside branch. By 1969, I had become a member of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group. The Lambton tanks were being made redundant, at the time when the NYMR was looking for locomotives. Two were selected, Nos 5 and 29. The door to a new era had opened for these locomotives, as it did for No 52 which also was purchased for preservation.

In January 1970, with two other volunteers I went to Philadelphia to examine Nos 5 and 29 with a view to tendering for their purchase. All the other redundant steam locomotives remained at Philadelphia Works. During May we were informed that our bids for Nos 5 and 29 had been successful, and so we commenced the job of preparing therm for their journey to the NYMR.

No 5 has been purchased by Mr and Mrs Jones from Derby, and No 29 by a consortium of NYMR and NELPG members. The work required on both locomotives mainly involved replacing copper pipes, changing springs, checking the lubrication systems and preparing their boilers for inspection by our boiler insurance company.

By the second week in June, No 29 was ready. It was steamed on Thursday, 19 June (General Election day) and examined by BR to be passed fit to travel in steam to the NYMR. After lunch with an NCB driver, we ran No 29 up to Herrington a couple of times and also up to Houghton. On the way back, the engine was turned on the triangle ready for Friday and everything was found to be in order.

On Friday, No 29 was taken to Penshaw for 14.00 ready for haulage to Thornaby. The BR locomotive was Class 46 diesel No D186 and No 29 was placed between it and a brake van. D186 shunted us out on to the line and then the BR, driver indicated to us that he would let No 29 do the lot, and she duly propelled D186 to Thornaby. The total weight of a Class 46 and brake van be about 160 tons, and the BR driver said that No 29 managed 38mph while travelling along the Leamside branch. At Ferryhill we stopped for an examination to find that the left leading axlebox was running very warm, and so the rest of the journey to Thornaby was taken easily.

Over the next days, No 29 was fitted with an LMS-style vacuum braking system from an LMS Black Five, and the left leading axlebox was re-metalled. On Thursday, 25 June BR No D6899 hauled No 29 and North Eastern Railway 'T2' 0-8-0 No 2238 in light steam from Thornaby to Grosmont NYMR. The 39-mile journey took place without a fault developing on either locomotive. Both were taken to Goathland, in those days the NYMR's base for locomotives. The two engines worked between Grosmont and Goathland Summit on the Saturday and Sunday during the NYMR Steam Gala Weekend.

After the success of the weekend, thought returned to Philadelphia and to No 5 which required repairs to be carried out before engine could be examined and then move Yorkshire. One Saturday we went Philadelphia and the place was deserted, only to discover later that it was the day of the "Big Meeting" - the Durham Miners' Gala!

Towards the end of July No 5 passed its examination and was pronounced fit to travel in the company of an NCB driver, No 5 had a short excursion in the same way that No 29 had done. On this occasion, we set off for sidings at the coke ovens. No 5 pulled out a rake of wagons on to the main running line and ran round them near Burnmoor level crossing. We then set off up junction Bank taking the right fork at the top for Houghton-le-spring, No 5 was running bunker-first on a load of 30 empties and sounded lovely. This was the last time that an 0-6-2-T was to work a train on the Lambton railway system.

On Friday, 7 August, No 5 travelled to Penshaw in light steam for haulage to Thornaby. This time, the BR driver was not prepared for No 5 to do any of the work. When the 0-6-2T arrived at Thornaby the radial truck axleboxes were running warm. No 5 remained at Thornaby during August, and during the course of its stay received a coat of paint and was lettered NYMR; like No 29 the engine was also vacuum fitted.

A couple of us returned to Philadelphia on Sunday, 23 August to obtain spares from the NCB. The big running shed was practically deserted, and only No 52 was left in corner, awaiting its removal. At the time we could have had no idea that it was for the KWVR. No 5 left Thornaby in the early hours of Friday, 28 August marshalled into the 04.45 Tees Yard-Whitby pick-up goods which was hauled by D6832. On journey to Grosmont No 5's radial boxes running warm. On the Saturday, Sunday and Monday the NYMR had a steam gala weekend, and No 5 and 'T2' No 2238 operated all the trains.