Hawthorn Leslie     Works No 3837   Corby Iron & Steel Works No 16    Biwater Express 0-6-0ST

Hawthorn Leslie 3837  Lavender Line Sept 2015.jpg

This locomotive was built by Hawthorn Leslie in 1934 for Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd to work at the Corby Iron & Steel Works.

Stewarts & Lloyds had moved to Corby in 1932 in order to make use of the local iron ore to feed the blast furnaces and Bessemer steel converters. Work to clear the new site commenced in 1933 and the first blast furnace was lit at Corby in May 1934. By December 1934 steel was being produced.

Stewart & Lloyds bought six locomotives from Hawthorn Leslie in 1934 of which 3837 was one. They were all of the same design with 16in x 24in outside cylinders and weighed 35tons. By 1941 fourteen locomotives had been delivered to Corby to this design by Hawthorn Leslie and its successor Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns Ltd. Two other of these Hawthorn Leslie locomotives have been preserved – Works numbers 3827 and 3931.

On arrival at Stewarts and Lloyds it was given the running number of 11 initially but as there was already a locomotive with the fleet number of 11 this was amended to 16 at some stage. These type of engines proved to be extremely strong and reliable and were favourites among the enginemen having a relatively large cab. They were regularly used double headed within the vicinity of the steelworks and must have made a very impressive sight. During the late 1960’s Stewarts and Lloyds successors acquired new diesel locomotives from British Railways and these useful workhorses began to be withdrawn from service.

Stewart & Lloyds became part of British Steel in 1967 when nationalised.

By the beginning of 1971 12 steam locomotives remained on the Corby site in addition to the 26 diesel locomotives brought in.

It is understood that the locomotive was converted to oil burning at some time in its working life.

In 1967 the British steel industry was nationalised and the Stewarts & Lloyds steel tube works at Corby became part of British Steel Corporation. In 1973 the government approved a strategy of consolidating steel making in five main areas – South Wales, Sheffield, Scunthorpe, Teesside and Scotland – most of which are coastal sites with access to economic supplies of iron rich imported ores. In the government agreed a programme that would lead to the phasing-out of steel making in Corby which resulted in over 5,000 jobs being lost there by the end of 1981 and further cuts which took the total loss of jobs at Corby to 11,000. The result was an unemployment rate of over 30%.

The locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1969. It initially entered preservation at the Nene Valley Railway in 1974 but then moved on to the Battlefield Line in March 1981. It then moved to the Swanage Railway in December 1982. It is believed that it never steamed during this period.

It was presented to Mole Valley District Council for display at the now defunct Leatherhead Water Park in 1985.

In September 2010 the locomotive was purchased by The Hawthorn Leslie 3837 Preservation Society for £1 and was subsequently moved to Isfield in East Sussex (the home of the Lavender Line).

The locomotive was said to be being restored at Isfield.

In April 2018 the locomotive moved to the Epping & Ongar Railway (EOR). The ownership and funds was also transferred from the Hawthorn Leslie 3837 Preservation Society to the EOR.

The locomotive has not steamed since 1969 but there are no plans to complete its restoration in the short term.

3837 at Stewarts & Lloyds Steelworks at Corby – June 1956
Hawthorn Leslie 3837  Lavender Line Sept 2015.jpg
3837 at the Lavender Line – September 2015
3837 awaiting restoration at North Weald on the Epping & Ongar Railway – July 2019

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