52044 (L&YR 957, LMS 12044 & BR 52044)


52044 was built in 1887 by Beyer Peacock & Co Ltd in Manchester.

Withdrawn from service in June 1959 whilst based at Wakefield. Its final journey was from Wakefield to Horwich.

The locomotive was bought by Tony Cox and initially kept at Retford as the new owner was reassigned to work at ROF Ranskill near Retford.

Tony Cox had been keen to save a L&Y engine and noted that the National Collection only included on L&Y locomotive (L&Y 1008 BR 50621) and only three 0-6-0 tender engines. At this time over 120 of the Aspinall class 27 locomotives were still in service with BR so he chose to seek to nuy a class 25 engine. There were then two class 25 locomotives in service at the time but the one that was in the best condition (52016) was then involved in an accident at Patricroft shed. The accident resulted in it being badly damaged and was scrapped on the spot. This left 52044.

In October 1958 the contracts manager for the London Midland Region at Euston contacted Tony Cox with a price of around £1,225 for 52044 including the tender. This was changed in August to a special price of £900 including delivery to a destination of choice. After struggling to raise the funds required for the purchase Tony Cox took out a loan from a company that provided loans to buy cars in February 1960. This enabled him to buy the locomotive at a time when BR where threatening to scrap it unless it was paid for straight away. It took another month as the loan provider would not pay without an invoice from BR.

Tony Cox later became Secretary of the Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society and 52044 was moved to Haworth in March 1965.

Extensive mechanical and boiler work was undertaken to allow the engine to appear in the film “The Private Life of Sherlock Homes” and make some appearances on passenger trains in 1971. At this time it was running as L&YR number 957.

The locomotive also appeared in the Green Dragon and in the EMI version of The Railway Children.  Later the engine has also featured in BBC’s Born and Bred and the remake of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The engine was taken out of traffic in 1975 and remained side lined until a bequest came to the locomotive’s rescue. Now owned by the Bowers 957 Trust, the locomotive returned to full working order in 2001 following a £150,000 overhaul. On withdrawal at the expiration of its boiler certificate, 957 was put aside in Haworth shed with a view to a return to active service.

Following a review of the locomotive which concluded that it was in a very sound condition and an overhaul started in July 2016 with as much of the work as possible being undertaken at Haworth.

By September 2017 the boiler had been lifted from the frames. The aim is to have the locomotive operating again by 2020.

In 2018 steam-cleaning of the wheelsets revealed cracks in the rims of the leading set. As a result shot-blasting of the other wheelsets was being undertaken so that the state of them could be assessed. By July most of the frames and motion had been inspected and found to be only in need of minor work. The boiler at this time was prepared for non-destructive testing.

In December 2018 the frames were re-wheeled at Haworth. The aim is to have the locomotive back in steam in 2020. The plan being to undertake the hydraulic and steam tests of the boiler in March so it can be lifted back into the frames shortly afterwards.

The locomotive will be turned out in the livery it carried when it appeared in 1970 in The Railway Children – fictional Great Northern & Southern Railway green. The wheels will also be green and the coupling rods red.

In July 2020 hydraulic tests were carried out on the boiler with the official insurance test scheduled for later in the same month. At this stage a date had not been set for a steam test.

The boiler was returned to the frames in September 2020 and it was hoped that the locomotive would be near a return to steam by the end of the year.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Keighley & Worth Valley RailwayUnder overhaulBowers 957 Trust
52044 at Haworth – July 1966
52044 at Haworth next to 80002-July 1969
52044 at Haworth on the KWVR - August 1983.jpg
52044 at Haworth on the KWVR – August 1983
52044 at Mytholmes on the KWVR – May 2002
52044 at Keighley on the Keighley Worth Valley Railway – October 2010
behind 52322 at Keighley on the Keighley Worth Valley Railway – October 2012
52044 at Keighley on the Keighley Worth Valley Railway – October 2012
52044 at Keighley on the Keighley Worth Valley Railway – October 2012

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