65894 was built at Darlington in 1923 as LNER 2392 and was allocated to Bank Top shed, Darlington, then to Ferryhill to cover Durham coalfield workings until re-allocated in 1930 to York, mainly seeing use on local goods trains to Scarborough. In 1926 under the LNER’s reclassification scheme the P3s where reclassified as J27s.
BR motive power depot allocations.
|1st January 1948||Leeds Neville Hill|
At York it could frequently be viewed from main line trains as it stood in the Engineer’s yard north of the City. In 1963 during a visit to Darlington works it was fitted with a non-superheated boiler.
When it transferred to Sunderland South Dock in 1966 it joined other surviving J27’s working coal trains in East Durham. On 9th September 1967 it worked the last diagrammed steam turn from Sunderland shed. Withdrawal along with the four other survivors swiftly followed and 65894 was sent to Tyne Dock for disposal.
65894 was purchased directly from BR by the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) in December 1967. The formation of the group had previously been heralded in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle on the 26th October 1966 with headline “They want to save old railway engines”. Two days after the headline appeared the group met in Newcastle to decide which locomotive should be targeted for fundraising to preserve. Of the 19 present, 11 voted for a J27 and 5 for a Q6 with three happy with either option.
The J27 was chosen in part because it was smaller and therefore cheaper. After paying for the room hired for the event the group had funds of 5s 6d (27½p in newer money).
Following selection of 65894 as the finest working member of the class the fund by September 1967 the funds of NELPG stood at £911 against an asking price for the locomotive of £1,400. The extra funds were raised after successful fund raising resulting in the purchase being completed on the 1st January 1967.
Because of the NELPG having a good relationship with BR both 65894 and Q6 63385 were put into store at the old wagon works at Tyne Dock prior to the purchase of the locomotives.
Whilst at Tyne Dock items were acquired from other class members to assist with restoration of 65894. A cab roof came from 65882 and boiler cleating from 65879 and 65811. Whilst based at Tyne Dock 65894 was towed to Thompson’s scrapyard at Stockton on Tees where it swapped its tender with that attached to 65882 before being returned to Tyne Dock.
There then followed restoration to full working order, initially at Tyne Dock where the locomotive was stored after withdrawal, then professionally at the then still functioning National Coal Board workshops at Philadelphia, Tyne and Wear, and then at Thornaby Depot. Final restoration, including the fitting of vacuum brake and steam heating apparatus for working passenger trains, was by the NELPG volunteers at ICI Billingham.
The move of 65894 to Thornaby in April 1969 was surprisingly allowed under its own steam despite requiring axlebox repairs which could not be carried out at the NCB premises. Thus 65894 steamed through Newcastle Central and down the east coast through some of its old working territory.
The locomotive fully restored as NER class P3 number 2392 was delivered to the embryonic North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) in October 1971. The locomotive provided the mainstay of services in the period leading up to full re-opening of the line, when it piloted the Lambton Tank engine (29) on the re-opening train in May 1973.
Following its appearance as an exhibit at the Stockton and Darlington 150 celebrations and cavalcade, it was withdrawn for boiler repairs. From 1977 until early 1982 it was on display in the National Railway Museum at York. After a further overhaul, 2392 returned to traffic on the NYMR. in the autumn of 1984.
While the engine is useful on the NYMR it is only capable of hauling 7 coaches up the steep 1 in 49 gradients. So during the peak summer season when the NYMR regularly runs with 8 coach trains the engine is hired out to less demanding railways, the engine has seen use on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway and the Llangollen Railway.
The engine was withdrawn again in 1992 for a general overhaul which included retyreing of the engine and tender as well as several improvements such as fitting of a hopper ashpan and rocking grate. Repainted in B.R. livery as 65894, the engine returned to the NYMR during the summer of 1996 hauling its first train after overhaul in June of that year.
Since returning to traffic in 1996 the engine has been a regular performer on the NYMR during the early and late season and continued to be hired out during the peak summer season to less demanding railways. The engine has worked on the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway, the North Norfolk Railway, the Nene Valley Railway, the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway (for 3 summer seasons), The East Lancashire Railway and the Weardale Railway. At the Weardale Railway it hauled the official re-opening train in 2004.
In 1998 65894 was certified to run on the mainline as it was the only engine that had a current boiler certificate that was available to the NYMR so it ran two round trips from Grosmont to Whitby.
In June 2003 the locomotive was repainted back into its NER livery as P3 number 2392.
As well as the usual running repairs the engine has also had more than its fair share of other problems as well.
- In 2000 it became necessary to lift the engine from its wheels to undertake axlebox repairs.
- In 2001 during a routine examination a small leak was spotted in a boiler tube, following further investigation this then led to full boiler re-tube.
- In 2003 the RH centre driving wheel axlebox ran hot, the engine then had the centre wheelset removed for repairs to the axlebox.
- The most serious problem that had to be dealt with was the fracture in the cylinder casting. This problem can be traced back to the last overhaul, during which a crack in the cylinder bore was metal stitched and then a cylinder liner fitted. This solved the problem for several years until, in 2001, the crack suddenly spread. This again was metal stitched and again gave no more problems until late November 2004 when part of the stitching started to leak steam. A repair was again made which held for only a few months before again starting to leak. The engine was withdrawn from heavy traffic and spent the final year of its boiler ticket at the Locomotion, National Railway Museum at Shildon. The final few days in steam were on the demonstration track at Darlington Railway Museum. The J27 was then withdrawn from service and went on display in Darlington Railway Museum.
In May 2006 the engine was moved to Darlington for the Darlington North Road 40th Anniversary Celebrations held over the spring bank holiday weekend, at the Darlington North Road Railway Museum. The celebrations were held to mark the 40th Anniversary since the closure of the towns North Road Locomotive works where the P3 had been built back in 1923.
In October 2006 an appeal was launched for raise funds to cover the cost of overhauling 65894. Work started in 2008 and is still going on at NELPG’s Hopetown (Darlington) with work on the boiler being undertaken at LNWR Crewe.
In March 2017 the boiler was hydraulically tested and steam tested at Crewe. It was anticipated that the boiler would return to the NELPG at Hopetown in April 2017. A new tender tank, fabricated by Adam Dalgleish Engineering has been fitted to the tender frames at Hopetown.
It was hoped that the locomotive would be operational by September 2017 but this date was later revised to spring 2018.
In an effort to speed up the overhaul the locomotive was moved to Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in February 2018, where it will be completed by Grosmont MPD staff with the assistance of NELPG members.
In an effort to speed up the overhaul the locomotive was moved to Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in February 2018, where it was completed by Grosmont MPD staff with the assistance of NELPG members.
The locomotive returned to steam in May 2018 at Grosmont after an overhaul that cost over £450,000. £200,000 of this was spent on the boiler and £50,000 replacing a cylinder block.
The locomotive is now equipped with a new tender tank made by Adam Dalgleish Engineering Ltd (now Northern Steam Engineering) in Stockton-on-Tees.
During the overhaul the locomotive was fitted with a vacuum ejector and steam heating apparatus so that it can be used on passenger trains.
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