68846 (GNR 1247, LNER 4247, LNER 8846 & BR 68846)

68846 at Locomotion, Shildon - September 2010.jpg

68846 was built by Sharp Stewart & Co in Glasgow in May 1899 as a GNR class J13 locomotive numbered 1247.

It started life allocated to Doncaster where it remained until February 1950 when it was transferred to New England. Here it stayed until March 1956 when it moved to Hornsey before being allocated to Kings Cross in February 1959.

As BR 68846 it worked at the top shed at Kings Cross shunting the larger engines allocated there around the shed until withdrawn from service in May 1959. Whilst at Kings Cross it acquired the nickname of Old Lady.

It was the first locomotive to be purchased directly from BR when it was purchased by Captain W G Smith in 1959. He had wanted to own an Ivatt designed engine and it was a toss up between 68846 or an ex GNR 4-4-2T of the LNER C12 class. He is reputed to have said that 68846 was the only one he could afford to buy. The 68846 was repainted in GNR green livery and renumbered back to 1247.

From 1959 until 1965 it was based on the Bluebell Railway. After this it was based on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway until 1970 after which it was moved to the Birmingham Railway Museum at Tyseley where it stayed until 1980.

As he and the engine grew older he decided to donate it to The National Railway Museum which he did in 1980. In recognition, W G Smith was made the first Honorary Life Member of the Friends of the National Railway Museum. After being acquired by the museum it made regular visits to other preserved railways and museums on its two boiler ticket durations in preservation.

In 1991 it was displayed at Railfair 91 in Sacramento in Caliornia.

In 1993 BR named a Class 33 diesel locomotive (33109) after Captain W G Smith. This diesel engine is preserved and on the East Lancs Railway.

It was loaned to the East Somerset Railway (ESR) between 1995 and 1998, in exchange for having some work done on it. It was repainted into BR lined black and renumbered from 4247 early in its visit, and had some rebuild work during its time at the ESR.

In 1999 it was based on the Great Central Railway.

In May 2009 was repainted back into its GNR livery once again at Shildon where the locomotive was unveiled by the widow of Captain WG Smith (who died in 2007).

The engine remains owned by the National Railway Museum and is on static display in its GNR green livery and numbered 1247 at York.

There have been no plans to return the locomotive to steam again but the operations strategy published by the National Railway Museum in March 2019 indicated that it has the potential to be steamed again.

In December 2019 it was disclosed that discussions had taken place between the National Railway Museum and the Wensleydale Railway and it was speculated that the locomotive railway would overhaul the locomotive.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
National Railway Museum – YorkOn static displayNational Railway Museum

NRM Object Number{1980-7001}

68846 near Hatfield - June 1961.jpg
68846 near Hatfield – June 1961
68846 at Goathland on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway – June 1975
68846 at Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway - August 1980.jpg
68846 at Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway – August 1980
68846 in the National Railway Museum at York-1992
68846 at Loughborough on the Great Central Railway – April 1999
68846 in the NRM at York - June 2003.jpg
68846 in the NRM at York – June 2003
68846 at Locomotion, Shildon - September 2010.jpg
68846 at Locomotion, Shildon – September 2010
68846 in Locomotion at Shildon – October 2010
68846 in the National Railway Museum at York – January 2016

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