This locomotive was built by the Hunslet Engine Company in 1941 as one of a class (50550 class) of eight locomotives which were built for Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd who planned to develop a quarry at Islip with a connection to the Corby steelworks. By the time the locomotives were built the project had been abandoned. Three of the eight locomotives built in 1941 and 1942 were taken over by the War Department, thus becoming the true forerunners of the WD Austerity type. Of the others one went to Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd, one to the Parkgate Iron & Steel Co. Ltd and three to the Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd.
Like the Austerity locomotives, which were to follow, these engines had 18 inch x 26 inch inside cylinders and a boiler pressure of 170psi. The wheels at 4 feet 0½ were slightly smaller, the weight at 49 tons 7cwt slightly heavier and the tractive effort at 26,280lbf slightly greater than the Austerity locomotives.
This locomotive (Hunslet Works No 2414) was one of the three locomotives that were taken by the War Department and became WD 70066. It was based at Long Marston in Warwickshire.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) purchased the Long Marston site in 1940 as a central facility for military operations and it later became an MOD Central Engineers Depot.
The function of this Depot was to store resources for Army Engineers in a series of storage sheds and warehouses of varying sizes. Many of these were rail connected, served by sidings off a main line which ran around the site. The Depot’s main line fed into both ends of a small marshalling yard/exchange sidings which were situated alongside the former GWR Stratford-on-Avon – Honeybourne line just south of Long Marston Station.
The Depot was built early in Second World War and was very busy during that conflict. Most of the locomotives employed then were newly built WD ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0STs working over the 45 miles of track serving the facility. Following the end of the war traffic declined rapidly, then over the rest of the life of the Depot it steadily decreased. The Austerity steam locos were gradually replaced by diesels although one or two were kept for steaming on special occasions.
2414 was then employed at Ackton Hall Colliery at Featherstone where it became S112. The pit was the first to close following the end of the 1984-85 miners’ strike as geological difficulties had made it impossible for the pit to continue production. The locomotive had been withdrawn from service in 1972 as it had very worn motion and a few patches on the firebox.
It was then moved to the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway but it has never been in steam there.
It acquired the name Spitfire shortly after arrival at Embsay, where it was cosmetically restored. The name will be altered to Revenge when the restoration is complete. The overhaul itself is very thorough and will involve the construction of a new bunker, cab and smokebox, as well as work on the frames to restore them to as built condition, as they were cut back (along with the rear buffer beam) at some stage in its career.
Work on the chassis has been completed and boiler work has now started but there is no forecast completion date.