44123 (LMS 4123 & BR 44123)

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After being constructed at Crewe in 1925 44123 was initially allocated to Willesden shed where it performed its early work on the numerous loose-coupled goods trains which were worked in and out of London and the surrounding suburbs. In 1928 the engine was moved to Liverpool, based at that city’s Sutton Oak and Edge Hill sheds where it stayed until 1937, before returning again to Willesden.

The second stay at Willesden was brief, and 4123 moved again to Toton in October 1938. Its work here consisted of shifting the considerable quantity of freight traffic handled by the yards there, including occasional appearances on the Brent coal traffic.

In the 1940s, 4123 spent time at various LMS sheds, including Westhouses, Tilbury, Coalville and Leicester.  In 1950, 4123, but now re-numbered as 44123, moved on to Gloucester (Barnwood) where it was used on both good and occasional passenger workings over the former Midland route between Bristol and Birmingham, as well as on freight over the Sharpness and Nailsworth branches. There are several recorded instances of it straying from this area – for example, in the summer of 1952 it was noted as piloting trains over the famous Somerset & Dorset line between Bath Green Park and Evercreech Junction, while in August 1953 it worked as far as Kettering and back with an excursion from Birmingham New Street.

44123 was resident at Barnwood until April 1964, when it was transferred to the other shed in Gloucester, Horton Road, and from which it worked until its withdrawal from service in June 1965.

Motive power depot allocations.

Date ArrivedDepot
August 1925Willesden
January 1927Sutton Oak
November 1929Edge Hill
November 1937Rugby
November 1937Willesden
October 1938Toton
April 1940Westhouses
October 1943Coalville
November 1947Leicester Midland
September 1950Gloucester Barnwood
April 1964Gloucester (Horton Road)

It was sold to Woodham Brothers in September of that year and languish there for fifteen years until December 1981, gradually rusting, and surrendering components to other locomotives.

In December 1981 the locomotive was purchased by the London Midland Society, and moved to the newly formed Mid-Hants Railway at Ropley where initial restoration was commenced.

In 1986 the London Midland Society left the Mid-Hants Railway, and the various items of rolling stock, including 44123, were moved to the Avon Valley Railway at Bitton, near Bristol, where the locomotive is still based, and where the restoration to working order is proceeding.

The locomotive is undergoing a very thorough restoration as after many years stored in a scrap yard, many components were missing and much of the superstructure is badly corroded and cannot be re-used.  The engine has remained largely intact whilst new parts are located or manufactured.  By 2015 approximately 75% of the parts needed to rebuild 44123 have been made or sourced, with work presently concentrating on the restoration of the tender.  Much work is being carried out, which includes the construction of a new set of frame plates, dragboxes and water tank.  Once the tender rebuild is complete, attention will turn to finalising the restoration of the locomotive, and in due course the engine will be dismantled into its component parts for restoration.

The aim is to have the locomotive back in steam in 2025 just 100 years after being built at Crewe.

In June 2022 it was reported that work was progressing on the tender which will very substantially be new due poor state of the original tender. The target is to complete the tender during 2025 and then start work on the locomotive which has been stored under cover for some time.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Avon Valley RailwayBeing restoredLondon Midland Society
44123 at Kings Norton – date unknown
44123 in Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry – c1972
44123 in Woodhams scrapyard at Barry – August 1974
44123 undergoing restoration at the Avon Valley Railway – September 2019

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