4979 was built at Swindon, February 1930. Its first shed allocation was Plymouth Laira and after 32 years of service it ended up at Oxford. During this time it was allocated to sheds in Penzance, Tyseley, Severn Tunnel Junction, Cardiff Canton, and ended its days in the London Division of the Western Region of British Railways, based at Southall, Reading, Didcot and finally Oxford in July 1958. It was used for a variety of duties including fast passenger service and freight.
It was withdrawn from service in December 1963 and acquired by Woodham Brothers for scrap in June 1964. It was sold to Fleetwood Locomotive Centre in Lancashire, and left as the 179th departure from Barry in October 1986.
Once at Fleetwood, little was done to the locomotive, and it was word went round it was up for sale in early 1994. In 1994 it was purchased by the Furness Railway Trust and stored at Lytham Motive Power Museum. There had been a feeling that the fleet lacked a large tender engine, and this purchase filled that gap.
In March 2007 it was moved to a new storage site at the Appleby Heritage Centre where preventative maintenance has been carried out prior to full restoration.
4979 has had to take its place in the restoration queue behind first Furness Railway Number 20, and its fellow Swindon stablemate, 5643. However, this does not mean it was left to rust as a small team visited Wootton Hall most weeks to carry out preventative maintenance and to purchase items when funds or opportunity allowed. This is a sensible policy: many items found on Great Western Railway engines were standardised, and so it has sometimes been possible to get something for Wootton Hall at the same time as purchasing a similar part for GWR 0-6-2T 5643, for less than would have been the case if parts for the two were ordered separately. The Furness Railway Trust has obtained this original GWR safety valve bonnet and clack valve cover for use on Wootton Hall from a local collector.
A new solid copper top to the chimney is being made – to replace the copper plated steel original which has understandably rusted away.
Wootton Hall was moved to the workshops of the Furness Railway Trust at the Ribble Steam Railway in October 2014. Immediately work began to remove the badly wasted tank and coal space of the tender; a replacement will be built in due course. It is intended to overhaul the tender first, which can then be made available for hire, whilst attention turns to the locomotive itself. Work on the locomotive started in 2016
In early 2019 it was reported that the owners had bought a Collett 4,000 gallon tender tank from Jonathan Jones-Pratt who owns 7027 Thornbury Castle.
Once restored 4979 will become the largest engine to operate at the Ribble Steam Railway.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Ribble Steam Railway||Under restoration||Furness Railway Trust|
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- 4942 Maindy Hall
- 4953 Pitchford Hall
- 4965 Rood Ashton Hall
- 5900 Hinderton Hall
- 5952 Cogan Hall
- 5967 Bickmarsh Hall
- 5972 Olton Hall