Hawthorn Leslie    Works No 3931    21 Linda 0-6-0ST

Hawthorn Leslie 3931  at Gretton Brook prior to working the farewell to steam tour around Corby ore mines to Wakerley - June 1973.jpg

This locomotive was built by Hawthorn Leslie in 1938 for as one of 14 Hawthorn Leslie standard 16in locomotives built for the steel works of Stewarts and Lloyds at Corby. At Corby it was given the number 21. The Name Linda was acquired some time later after being preserved.

Stewart & Lloyds had bought six locomotives from Hawthorn Leslie in 1934. They were all of the same design with 16in x 24in outside cylinders and weighed 35tons. By 1941 fourteen locomotives (including 3931) 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 3837.

It worked the large steelworks complex along with quite a large fleet of locomotives for over 30 years. There were effectively two fleets – one like 3931 was employed in the steel works whilst another was used to haul iron ore trains.

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%.

In the autumn of 1970, 21 received an overhaul involving the fitting of a new boiler which had been standing spare for a number of years. The axleboxes were renewed, attention given to the motion, etc. and presumably it was the last loco to have such repairs and renewals.

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

It is interesting to note that from the 1950’s all locomotives employed at the steelworks, steam and diesel, were painted buttercup yellow, with red wheels and coupling rods and black fittings, and, in the case of the steam locomotives, had the letters S&L stenciled in black on the saddle tank. The locomotives used on the ore trains from the mine were painted mid green.

During its 1970 overhaul, 21 was repainted and lettered BSC, probably the only steam locomotive in British Steel Corporation ownership to achieve this distinction.

After the farewell to steam train at the Corby site was hauled by 3931 which was the only time it operated on the mines system when it worked to Wakerley and back.

Following the final working at Corby it went to the Battlefield Line. Whilst it was at the Battlefield Line it was fitted with new tanks and the  front cab spectacle plates were altered from square to round. It was also was fitted with Vacuum brakes & steam heating. The buttercup yellow livery was replaced with lined pale blue and the letters MBLR appeared on the Saddle Tanks (Market Bosworth Light Railway).

The locomotive next moved to the Swanage Railway in 1984 where it was restored back into working order and steamed until 1988. At Swanage the locomotive carried a Prussian blue livery, with no tank markings.  It was taken out of service there and required retyring, attention to the boiler and axleboxes.

It was then sold in 1991 to Mr Drinkwater who discussed the possibility of overhauling the locomotive on the Gwili Railway. Whilst the locomotive was moved to the Gwili Railway no work was undertaken on the locomotive. As unpaid bills were mounting up the locomotive was advertised for sale by a firm of liquidators acting on behalf of Haulier, Andrew Goodman, who had claimed the locomotive against costs outstanding to him by the then owner.

The locomotive was then delivered to the Ribble Steam Railway.

It was returned to steam in May 2015.

Hawthorn Leslie 3931  at Gretton Brook prior to working the farewell to steam tour around Corby ore mines to Wakerley - June 1973.jpg
3931 at Gretton Brook prior to working the farewell to steam tour around Corby ore mines to Wakerley – June 1973
3931 at Market Overton – March 1974
3931 at Swanage – August 1985
Hawthorn Leslie 3931 at the Swanage Railway - June 1988.jpg
3931 at the Swanage Railway – June 1988
Hawthorn Leslie 3931  Ribble Steam railway - May 2015.jpg
3931 on the Ribble Steam Railway – May 2015
3931 at the Ribble Steam Railway – October 2019

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