1054 LNWR 0-6-2T ‘Coal Tank’
The LNWR Coal Tank, owned by the National Trust, has been in the care of the Bahamas Locomotive Society since 1973.
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.
The design was rudimentary but typical of the era. The only brake was operated by hand, and it would be another ten years before a ‘power’ brake was installed to enable the working of the automatic vacuum brake on passenger trains. Train heating equipment for keeping the passengers warm was installed in 1902.
The engine is understood to have worked from Aston in 1911 and Edge Hill in 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 in October 1930.
In February 1936, 7799 moved to Shrewsbury, where it was withdrawn from service in January 1939.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 due to the growing political tensions in Europe.
In December 1940, the engine was overhauled, put back into 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 loaning to the National Coal Board in 1954.
As the last surviving member of the class, the engine was put into store at Abergavenny, but was requested to assist with the last passenger train over the route of the old Merthyr &Abergavenny Railway. This was a special excursion organised by the Stephenson Locomotive Society 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 After some 70 years of service, it was finally withdrawn in November 1958 and moved to Crewe for scrapping.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 from being scrapped was spearheaded by J M Dunn. Dunn, the former shed master at Bangor, created and organised the Webb Coal Tank Engine Preservation Fund and, within six months, had raised the purchase price of £500. It became the first locomotive to be purchased for preservation by public subscription. For £150, the engine was repainted into its former LNWR livery at Crewe works.
In 1961, and now carrying its former engine No. 1054, the engine was taken to Hednesford in the care of the Midland’s Area Group of the Railway Preservation Society. In 1963, No.1054 was donated to the National Trust and moved to the Trust’s Penryhn Castle property in North Wales. Although now on display to the public, the accommodation prevented any long-term conservation work. So arrangements were made for the engine to be cared for by the Bahamas Locomotive Society. Consequently, 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, the Pontypool &Blaenavon Railway and the NRM’s ‘Locomotion’ at Shildon in 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.
Its periodical boiler overhaul was completed in 2022. It is currently the only operational example of an LNWR locomotive and one of the few from the Victorian era still capable of doing the job for which it was intended more than 130 years ago.