73096 was built at Derby in November 1955.

Motive power depot allocations.

Date Arrived Depot
November 1955 Patricroft
September 1958 Shrewsbury
June 1962 Gloucester Barnwood
April 1964 Gloucester
November 1964 Oxley
March 1965 Nuneaton
June 1965 Croes Newydd
July 1965 Patricroft

After being withdrawn from service in November 1967 it was sold to Woodham Brothers scrapyard at Barry where it arrived in February 1968 and remained until July 1985. It was then rescued by a member of the Mid Hants Railway.

73096 underwent restoration at Ropley and was completed in October 1993. A new tender) was constructed on an ex-LMS Stanier 4-6-0 tender chassis which had been attached to Jubilee 45593 Kolhapur. This resulted in the tender being several inches shorter than the tender 73096 was attached to in BR service.

Originally restored as 73080 Merlin and painted in BR lined black livery the locomotive was subsequently renumbered to 73096 and the name removed. The locomotive was also repainted in BR lined green, a livery that was first applied when the engine was allocated to Shrewsbury in 1958. It was normal practice for a class 5 locomotive, allocated to the Western Region, to wear the green passenger livery instead of the normal lined black.

73096 was for a time a regular performer on the mainline hauling railtours from London to such destinations as Salisbury, Exeter, Yeovil and Canterbury. In 2005 the Mid-Hants Railway decided to withdraw the locomotive from mainline duties and it is unlikely to be seen on the mainline again for the foreseeable future.

In March 2009 the engine suffered over £200,000 worth of damages whilst running on the Mid Hants Railway. The damage to the to its left-hand (driver’s-side) cylinder is thought to have been due to a piston coreplug working loose and causing much damage to the cylinder covers, cylinder, piston and piston-rod plus other equipment in the area. No damage was done to the track or signalling but 73096 blocked the line for some time as parts of the steam locomotive’s ‘motion’ (connecting rod, valve gear linkages etc.) on the driver’s side had to be removed to allow the locomotive to be moved. A replacement cylinder casting was required, necessitating a new pattern made which enabled the locomotive to return to steam in August 2010.

In September 2011, the boiler certificate expired and 73096 was consequently withdrawn from service.

In November 2014 73096 was moved to the Southall Railway Centre where it was stored.

In late 2017 locomotive was bought from John Bunch by Mid Hants Railway plc and it was delivered to Ropley in November 2017. This is the first to be owned by Mid Hants Railway plc as other locomotives are owned by Mid Hants Railway Preservation Society.

It is now in the queue for a heavy overhaul.

In 2018 it was suggested that the locomotive could return to steam in 2025.

The locomotive was moved to the Margate Railway Museum in 2018 so that it could be stored under cover prior to its overhaul commencing.

Home Base Current Status Owner
Mid Hants Railway Awaiting overhaul Mid Hants Railway plc
73096 & 45379-Ropley-2011.jpg 73096 & 45379 at Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway-2011
73096 & 45379 Ropley-2012.jpg 73096 & 45379 at Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway-2012

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