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Withdrawn from service in June 1959 whilst based at Wakefield.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. It took ten days for the locomotive to be moved from Horwich to 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 buy 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. It had arrived at Keighley at the end of February along with 69523 behind B1 class locomotive 61161. 52044 was towed to Haworth by J52 class locomotive 1247 which was the first steam locomotive acquired from British Railways by a private individual. 52044 was the second bought privately.
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.
In 1996 the locomotive was sent to the Severn Valley Railway for a contract overhaul as there was no slots available on the KWVR workshop schedule. After spending £200,000 on the overhaul it 52044 underwent trials on the Severn Valley Railway at Easter 2002. By this time the locomotive was owned by the Bowers 957 Trust.
The locomotive then ran for 11 years until it was withdrawn from service on the KWVR in January 2013. It was then 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.
At the end of July 2021 the locomotive successfully underwent at steam test at Haworth.
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