Sharp, Stewart & Co Works No 1448 20 0-4-0 Furness Railway

Furness Railway 20 at Locomotion, shildon - September 2010.jpg
Power Classification
CompanyFurness Railway
Weightt cwt
Driving Wheelsft ins
Boiler Pressurepsi
CylindersInside – in x in
Tractive Effortlbf
Valve Gear

This locomotive was built in 1863 by Sharp Stewart & Co. of Manchester as one of a batch of eight 0-4-0 tender locomotives supplied between 1863 and 1866. It became Furness Railway number 20.

The rapid growth of traffic on the Furness Railway in the 1860’s resulted in these small four wheeled engines soon becoming obsolescent. In 1870 the first six of the class, F.R. numbers 17, 18, 19, 20, 25 and 26 were sold to the Barrow Haematite Steel Co. (BHSC) at Barrow. This company, formed in 1864, had very close links with the Furness Railway and at the time possessed the biggest Iron and Steelworks in the world supplying steel rails to railways across the world.

For many years it was assumed that the BHSC numbers allocated followed the same sequence as the locomotives had had on the Furness Railway. This led to a riddle about the engine’s true identity that lasted for a century. Later it became know that the FR Co.’s No. 20 become BHSC No. 7. F.R. locomotives Nos. 27 and 28 of the same class were retained by the F.R. until withdrawal in 1918.

It is believed that Sharp Stewart & Co. took the six, still very new, engines back to the works, to convert them to saddle tanks before delivery to the BHSC. In 1915 BHSC No. 7 (F.R. No. 20) was rebuilt with a new boiler and in the 1950’s was re-wheeled. Unlike the rest of the former F.R. locomotives purchased by the steelworks, BHSC No. 7 retained its original wheel diameter of 4 ft 9 ins.

Furness tank
As rebuilt for the Barrow Haematite Steel Co as number 7

It continued in traffic until 1960 (just three years short of 100 years in service) when diesel locomotives were introduced.

Instead of being scrapped, the two remaining former F.R. machines were presented to local schools. BHSC 7 stood in the grounds of the George Hastwell Special School in Abbey Road, Barrow for over twenty years. When the school relocated to a new building the locomotive was moved to Walney Island, where it remained until it was purchased privately in 1983 and moved to the Steamtown Railway Museum at Carnforth in Lancashire. The fate of the other locomotive is unknown.

Restoration began, but it was cut short by the death of one of the owners. The dismantled remains were acquired by the Furness Railway Trust in 1990 to safeguard the future of the locomotive.

On 24th August 1996, to the day the 150th Anniversary of the first Furness Railway passenger train, it was announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund had awarded a grant of £97,000 to assist the restoration of 20 to its original Furness Railway condition as an 0-4-0 tender locomotive. Grants towards the £140,000 cost of the project were also received from the PRISM Fund of the Science Museum, The Idlewild Trust, Furness Building Society and Cumbria County Council.

Copies of the original outline drawings for the locomotive were sourced from the Science Museum whilst further information was obtained from detailed study of four old photographs of Furness Railway 27 and 28.

The Furness Railway Trust prepared detailed drawings for all the new components required and received help from as far away as Turkey where a similar, surviving, Sharp Stewart tender was located and surveyed.

The stripped down frames and motion of the engine were delivered to the Barrow-in-Furness workshops of Marconi Marine (V.S.E.L.) in December 1996. After a total rebuild, including the construction of a new boiler and tender, the locomotive emerged two years later in December 1998, resplendent in Furness Railway Indian Red livery. The new boiler, of mainly riveted construction, was made by Israel Newton & Sons of Bradford. Marconi Marine (V.S.E.L.) constructed the tender chassis and students and staff of Furness College, Barrow, built the tender superstructure which houses 1,200 gallons of water and two tons of coal. The tender is of welded construction, but dummy rivet heads were welded into position to get the right look.

A major milestone was achieved in January 1999 when number 20 passed its in steam boiler examination and made its first journey on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway in Cumbria, its new home. It was formally re-launched into service at a ceremony at Haverthwaite station on 20th April 1999.

20 is owned by the Furness Railway Trust. This trust is a Registered Charity, based in North West England. Originally based at the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway in Cumbria, it is now based in Preston at the Ribble Steam Railway.

The Furness Railway Trust is converting to a new type of body called a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. The new CIO has been registered with the Charity Commission and the next step is to move the charitable activities over from the old FRT to the new.

Number 20 was at Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon, where it spent much of the five years there being steamed on a regular basis. It has also performed on a number of heritage lines as well as at its base on the Ribble Steam Railway. It is the oldest operating standard gauge steam locomotive in Britain.

In May 2018 the locomotive made its last appearance at Shilden before returning to the Ribble Steam Railway for the remaining period of its boiler certificate.

It was taken out of service in July 2018 for overhaul.

The boiler was lifted off the frames in October 2018 before being prepared for non-destructive testing.

In April 2020 it was reported that the boiler was undergoing out of frames hydraulic testing.

As part of the overhaul the locomotive has been fitted with a new set of springs as the previous springs were designed to be used when the No 20 was running as a tank engine. The old springs were firmer to cover the additional weight of the water tanks.

In December 2020 it was reported that the boiler had been successfully tested out of the frames in the previous month. The boiler was then lifted back onto the frames two days later.

In September 2021 a fire was lit in the locomotive and it was anticipated that it would have a new ten year boiler certificate and be back in service soon.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Ribble Steam RailwayUnder overhaulFurness Railway Trust


Furness Railway 20 on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway - October 2000.jpg
Furness Railway 20 on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway – October 2000
Furness Railway 20 at Haverthwaite on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway – May 2006
Furness Railway 20 at Locomotion, shildon - September 2010.jpg
Furness Railway 20 at Locomotion, shildon – September 2010
Sharp, Stewart & Co 1448 as Furness Railway No 20 at Locomotion, Shildon – 2016

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