This locomotive was built by the North British Locomotive Company in 1939 at Hyde Park Works to a Neilson Reid design. Neilson Reid and Company formed part of the North British Locomotive Company when the latter was formed in 1903.
The locomotive has two inside cylinders of 18in x 26in, 4ft 3 in wheels, a boiler pressure of 160psi, a tractive effort of 23,869lbf and weighted 50 tons.
It was part of an order for two identical locomotives delivered new to Warwickshire Coal Co. Ltd (a subsidiary of Coltness Iron Co. Ltd ) at Coventry Colliery.
Coventry Colliery had commenced operations in 1917 but production increased after the end of the First World War when more labour was available. As a result production increased and a two mile private railway was constructed from the London & North Western Railway (Coventry to Nuneaton line) to the colliery.
It was the last steam locomotive sold by NBL to an industrial user in the UK. Ownership passed to the National Coal Board (NCB) in January 1947 when the coal industry was nationalised with Coventry Colliery becoming part of the No. 4 area of the West Midlands Division.
In 1962 three ex British Railways Hawksworth pannier tanks (1501, 1502 & 1509) were acquired by the NCB and after being overhauled by Andrew Barclay Sons & Co were used at Coventry Colliery. Coventry No 1 was thus displaced and entered the NCB workshops at Ansley for a heavy overhaul, including fitting of a new boiler. It then served as a stationary boiler during the serve winter of 1962/63 before going to Newdigate Colliery near Bedworth in October 1963.
At Newdigate the locomotive proved very popular with crews due to its power and free-steaming abilities, but was confined to the colliery yard due to its flangeless centre driving wheels.
During 1965 the locomotive was transferred to Haunchwood Colliery before returning to Newdigate again in June 1967. Due to the introduction of smokeless-zone restrictions and the arrival of diesel shunters at Newdigate, Coventry was little used and in December 1970 the locomotive was sold to the Quainton Railway Society
It moved to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton 1n 18 January 1971 and following minor attention it was used on passenger trains from October 1972.
In recent years the locomotive has been used as Thomas the Tank Engine and in this guise has visited a number of heritage railways.
During the winter of 2008 and spring of 2009 Coventry No. 1 underwent an intermediate overhaul with repairs to the boiler, motion and running gear, as well as some bodywork repairs.
The locomotive has since reached the end of its boiler certified life and is now awaiting overhaul at Quainton. It has been repainted I the dark blue livery of the National Coal Board and put on display.