The only locomotive that survived into preservation is a BR built engine. 69023 was built at Darlington in April 1951.
It was allocated to Blaydon depot and remained there until October 1962 when it moved the short distance to Gateshead. In October 1964 it was transferred to Departmental Service stock and renumbered Department 59.
It was used to de-freeze coal wagons on the Blyth shipping staithes but after a year it was moved to Gateshead where amongst other things it was used to de-ice points in Tyne Yard. After a long period in store, 59 was sold in September 1966 and has been preserved.
It was purchased by Mr R Ainsworth who named it Joem in honour of his parents (Joseph and Emily). It was taken to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in 1969 where it was restored.
Later 69023 saw service on the Derwent Valley Railway at York but following the death of its owner the locomotive was put into store at the National Railway Museum, awaiting disposal.
69023 was then purchased by the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) in November 1982. The price paid for the locomotive was £10,250 which included a grant of £5,250 from the Science Museum.
It was delivered to Grosmont in January 1983 and remaining in traffic until late 1985 before undergoing overhaul at I.C.I. Wilton. At the same time a repaint in N.R./BR pattern lined green was undertaken, this style of livery was inspired by British Railways action in repainting two J72’s No’s 68723 and 68736, for use on station pilot duties at Newcastle and York in NER. green in the early 1960’s.
Following restoration at ICI Wilton 69023 returned to the NYMR. where it regularly hauled lightweight trains as well as its more usual role of station pilot at Grosmont. Being small and easily transportable by road 69023 also visited many other railways, including the North Norfolk, Yorkshire Dales, South Devon Steam, East Somerset, Swanage, Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, the Great Western Society at Didcot and it also attend open days at Hartlepool Power Station and BR’s Thornaby depot.
In 1996 its 10 year boiler ticket expired and the engine was then stored on display inside NELPG’s Deviation shed at Grosmont on the NYMR. The engine eventually worked its way to the front of NELPG’s restoration queue and in 2004 the engine was moved from Grosmont to the workshop at Darlington. Work started on the overhaul of the locomotive in May 2005 and 69023 re-entered service in 2010 and visited many heritage railways.
69023 is now based on the Wensleydale Railway but returns to NELPG’s base at Hopetown Carriage Works, Darlington for winter maintenance. After completion of the maintenance work, which included some repair work, the locomotive returned to the Wenslydale Railway for the 2017 season.
In May 2017 the locomotive passed its insurance steam test. It returned to regular service on the Wenslydale Railway.
In June 2017 it failed and was taken out of service but returned to service soon afterwards.
Although the boiler certificate was valid until August 2018 the locomotive was withdrawn from service in February 2018. This followed the inspection of the boiler which revealed that the firebox tupeplate had been weeping at boiler pressures above 130lbs/sq in and the cost of rectifying the problem could not be recovered from hire fees prior to the boiler certificate expiring.
The overhaul of the locomotive is being undertaken as a long-term project which will be carried out as fund permit. The estimated cost of the overhaul is £230,000.
It is hoped that by undertaking a very thorough overhaul little work will be required at the next two ten year overhauls.
In October 2020 the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group said that they hoped to have the locomotive back in service by 2024. The overhaul of 69023 is being undertaken at Hopetown carriage works in Darlington.
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