53809 is one of the second batch which was built at the Darlington Works of Robert Stephenson & Co in 1925 as S&D No 89. It was turned out in unlined black livery at a cost of £6,570. When built it had a larger diameter boiler but this was replaced in 1950’s as part of a general repair. Unusually – certainly as far as all the other WSR-based locomotives are concerned – the 2-8-0 spent the whole of its life based at one shed, Bath (Green Park). It mainly worked the local goods trains between Bath and Evercreech Junction, which involved a stiff climb over the Mendip Hills in both directions, although in the post-war period it was also used to haul some of the many Summer Saturday holiday trains to and from the North, working between Bath and Bournemouth. The ability of the 7F’s to haul these heavy trains unassisted made them a popular choice for this work. Only rarely did 89 venture up the S&D branch from Evercreech Junction to Glastonbury and Highbridge. The daily routine of working over S&D metals was broken only by visits to Derby Works for repair, as well as occasional trips up the Midland main line from Bath to Westerleigh Yard, north of Mangotsfield.
During its time in service 89 was involved in an incident which resulted in the death of three railway employees in 1929 after the driver and firemen were overcome with fumes in Combe Down tunnel.
It was withdrawn from service at Bath Green Park in June 1964 and was sold for scrap to Woodham Brothers at Barry where it arrived in August 1964. It stayed there until December 1975.
53809 was bought in 1975 by Frank Beaumont and moved to Kirk Smeaton near Doncaster in December 1975 where the locomotive was restored.
In March 1980 the locomotive was moved to the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley and operated there for a number of years.
It was overhauled in January 2006 and returned to service in February at Butterley, and sports its black BR livery.
88 and 89 met for the first time in preservation at the West Somerset Railway during 2006, after 89 made a return to Bath Green Park Station, 40 years after the S&D closed.
Following this 53809 spent some time on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway but was taken out of service there, before its boiler certificate expired, after failing a boiler inspection. It was then returned to the Midland Railway at Butterley where it has been having a full overhaul.
53809 returned to service on the West Somerset Railway in April 2017.
The locomotive moved to the North Norfolk Railway in January 2018 for an initial six month period although it is expected to be extended to 12 years providing agreement is reached between the owners and the NNR. The deal is expected to cover the overhaul which will be due in 2026.
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