45231 (LMS 5231 & BR 45231)

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45231 was one of the 227 Armstrong Whitworth built locomotives built in 1936.  It was originally numbered 5231 and was renumbered 45231 by BR following nationalisation in 1948.

BR motive power depot allocations since 1948.

Date ArrivedDepot
January 1948Patricroft
September 1954Northampton
October 1954Aston
August 1961Stoke
September 1961Aston
February 1963Rugby
June 1963Chester
May 1967Speke Junction
May 1968Carnforth

It was withdrawn from service at Carnforth in August 1968 along with the remaining steam engines still on the BR network. It did have the distinction of working the last ever steam hauled ballast train for BR on the Furness Line in Cumbria.

45231 was purchased by Michael Stephenson for preservation at Carnforth motif power depot which became Steamtown museum.

In 1973, 45231 moved to the Great Central Railway (GCR) at Loughborough and hauled the official opening train on this new preservation railway to Quorn on September 30th 1973.

In 1976 45231 was given the name; 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment.

The following year the locomotive was withdrawn for a full overhaul.  This overhaul was completed in 1988 and in 1989 45231 moved to the Nene Valley Railway.  In 1993 45231 again returned to the GCR for the filming of Richard Attenborough’s Shadowlands.

45231 was purchased by the GCR in 1996 and the following year received a new set of nameplates carrying the simplified name The Sherwood Forester.

In 2001 The Sherwood Forester was purchased by Bert Hitchen with the intention of restoring the locomotive the mainline standard.  This work was undertaken at Loughborough Works on the GCR.

After this work 45231 moved to the Mid-Hants Railway in February 2005 to run some mainline tours for Steam Dreams.  Following a mainline test run from Alton to Fratton, the first mainline appearance for the locomotive since 1968, 45231 hauled its first tour to Canterbury from London Victoria on Wednesday 29 June 2005.

In 2007 45231 moved from the Mid-Hants to the East Lancashire Railway but subsequently moved again to Carnforth where it is now based and from where it continues to operate on the main line. Carnforth is no longer a museum but is now used as the base for West Coast Railway Company.

Bert Hitchen died in May 2015 but the locomotive remains owned by the family but was put up for sale in 2014. In October 2015 45231 was purchased by Jeremy Hosking and remained at West Coast Railway’s Carnforth depot in the short term.

It is to have some patch repairs to the firebox wrapper in the area of the throatplate.

The locomotive is likely to move to Southall where Hosking has other locomotives based.

45231 is Main line certified until 2020 and a boiler certificate which is valid until 2023.

The locomotive is undergoing maintenance but is likely to be operational again in 2019. Test runs are scheduled for early February.

The loaded test run was however not undertaken until November 2019.

In April 2021 the locomotive the locomotive was hauling a private charter to Carmarthen when it was forced to make an emergency brake application (thought to be due to trespass). As a result a set of wheels on the tender locked in place leading to the wheels sustaining significant flats due to them sliding on the rail before the train came to a halt. This meant the locomotive could not continue its journey and the locomotive was stored at Llandeilo until it could be recovered. The locomotive was recovered by Railway Support Services with the aid of a WheelSkate. The device comprises two pairs of frames, each carried by small wheels, that support a disabled axle with the running wheels lifted a few millimetres above the rail. This was the first time such a device has been used to rescue a steam locomotive although it was developed from a concept created many years ago by BR at Derby . 45231 was hauled by two class 37 diesel locomotives with the speed restricted to a maximum of 20mph and 5mph over crossings and points. The locomotive was moved in this way for 35 miles on freight only lines until a point where it was subsequently loaded onto a road vehicle for transportation to Crewe.   

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Locomotive Services Ltd

45231 on Patricroft shed – July 1965
45231 on Edge Hill shed – March 1968
45231 climbing lancaster bank southbound - august 1968
45231 climbing Lancaster Bank southbound – August 1968
45231 at Peterborough on the Nene Valley Railway – 1990
45231 at Loughborough on the Great Central Railway – c1994
45231 at Swithland Sidings on the Great Central Railway – June 1994
45231 at appleby - september 2009
45231 at Appleby – September 2009
45231 The Sherwood Forester at Bury on the East Lancs Railway – October 2011
45231 The Sherwood Forester at Heywood on the East Lancs Railway – October 2011
45231 The Sherwood Forester at Bury on the East Lancs Railway – October 2011
45231 on the Bluebell Railway – February 2014
45231 emerges from from the north portal of Blea Moor Tunnel – August 2015
45231 on the Mid Hants Railway – February 2018
45231 at Highley on the Severn Valley Railway – September 2022

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