Although the first withdrawn of the class took place in 1960 many remained in service for a few more years with the last withdrawal being in 1966.
The 6880 Society was formed in 1998 with the sole intention of recreating a Grange class locomotive. 6880 was chosen as it would have been the next number to be used by the GWR if another had been built. It will be called Betton Grange.
The new build project is based on the Llangollen Railway and progress to date is shown below.
Both the main frames and the cab for No. 6880 were newly fabricated, with cutting commencing in September 2004.
In 2005 the society acquired the boiler from 7927 Willington Hall. The frames and wheelset from the Hall have been retained by Didcot Railway Centre to build a GWR 1000 County class, another class of GWR locomotive which was not preserved. The society also acquired the spare tender frame from 4936 Kinlet Hall.
In 2010 the society bought 5952 Cogan Hall from the Cambrian Railway Trust. The long term aim is to fully restore this locomotive to operational condition, but in the short term the society have borrowed its bogie and tender for the Grange project, to speed the project to a successful conclusion.
- Frames:cut from new metal.
- Boiler:obtained from GWR 6959 Modified Hall class 7927 Willington Hall.
- Driving Wheels:The spare wheelsets for GWR 4300 class 7325, on long term loan agreement from the Severn Valley Railway Now replaced with the wheels from 5101 class 5199 due to casting flaws with the spare 7325 wheelsets.
- Front bogie:Borrowed from 5952 Cogan Hall. Being restored at Williton works on the West Somerset Railway.
- Cylinders:Casting and machining of a new pair of cylinders, estimated cost of £60,000
- Tender:Borrowed from 5952 Cogan Hall, with later option to rebuild spare frame obtain from 4936 Kinlet Hall
- Cab:cut from new metal
- 1998: Project started
- 2004: Frames cut
- 2005: Fabrication of new cab completed
- 5 March 2012: Footplating secured to frames and painted
- April 2012: “Steel Steam & Stars III” gala
- 8 April 2013: The locomotive’s frame is fitted with its driving wheels.
The pistons have been removed from 5952 and are being refurbished at Tyseley.
By the end of 2016 work had progressed to the stage where a boiler from 5952 Cogan Hall was lifted onto the almost complete bottom end of the new build Grange. The boiler that it is planned to use when Betton Grange is steamed for the first time is being provided by 7927 Willington Hall. The overhaul of the Willington Hall boiler has been contracted out to Tyseley and is scheduled to be complete in April 2018. The hope of the group working on the new locomotive is that it will then be able to steam for the first time in the autumn of 2018.
It is planned that the locomotive will be cosmetically finished off so that it can participate in the open days at Tyseley Locomotive Works in June 2017.
The boiler is expected to be back at Llangollen in May 2018.
By November 2017 it was thought that the locomotive would be steamed for the first time in 2018 and enter service in early 2019. The aim being to put the first fire in the locomotive in October 2018 so that it can move under its own steam by the end of 2018.
The locomotive will originally run with the tender from 3814 until it has its own new built tender.
In June 2018 the locomotive was moved from Llangollen to Tyseley so that its boiler could be fitted. In December 2018 the boiler was lowered onto the frames for a trial fitting.
Once operational the locomotive is likely to not venture away from the Llangollen Railway for the first year whilst any issues are sorted out.
It is planned that the locomotive will be returned to Llangollen in the Spring of 2019 after which it will be steamed and run in on the Llangollen railway during 2019.
After two years of seasons running on preservation lines it is intended that the locomotive operates on the main line.
In mid 2019 the group behind building the locomotive turned its attention to building a new tender for the locomotive to replace the one from 3814. The tender will be a 3,500 gallon built to the Collet design which became extinct in the 1960s.
By August 2018 the frames had been moved from Llangollen to Tyseley prior to the boiler being fitted. It was anticipated that the locomotive would move back to Llangollen in the early part of 2020 for commissioning and running in.
In November 2019 the boiler passed its hydraulic test and the following day a fire was lit in the boiler for the first time.
In the following month the boiler passed its out-of-frames insurance steam test at Tyseley.
The boiler from 7927 Willington Hall was fitted onto the frames of 6880 Betton Grange at Tyseley in March 2020.
By October 2020 the smokebox had been fitted to the locomotive at Tyseley following installation of the boiler just before the Covi-19 lockdown. The boiler work was completed in November 2020.
In January 2021 it was reported that due to restrictions in access for volunteers during the Covid-19 pandemic the owners had commissioned Tyseley Locomotive Works to complete the outstanding work. The target completion date is September 2021.
It is planned that the locomotive will operate on the main line from Tyseley.