This locomotive was built in 1944, to a Hunslet Engine Company design, by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn for the Ministry of Defence.
See LNER class J94 for details.
The early history of this locomotive is not well documented, but the following information is available.
- The locomotive was delivered new to the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire. This line was built to train soldiers on aspects of railway construction and operation. Here the locomotive became WD 152 Rennes. Some of the Austerity locomotives were only stored there rather than utilised.
- Between June 1953 and May 1956 the locomotive was used at Marchwood. Marchwood Port was constructed at Southampton in 1943 as part of the preparations for the D Day landings.
- The military service of the locomotive ended in 1959 when it was resold to the Hunslet Engine Company in November 1960.
The locomotive was one of fifteen that were sold to the Hunslet Engine Company who rebuilt it. The rebuild was the result of a bid to meet stringent restrictions on smoke emissions.
The Argentinian, Ing. L.D.Porta was commissioned by the Hunslet company to design certain modifications. Following the company becoming aware of Porta technology when, unsuccessfully, bidding for the contract to build the second batch of 75cm gauge 2-10-2 locomotives for RFIRT, Argentina.
Research suggests the locomotives may not have been quite as Porta would have wished. It is felt something could have been lost ‘in the translation’ between Argentina and the UK. However, despite some shortcomings these locomotives did serve an important purpose in the development of steam. They were the very first application of Porta’s work outside of his native Argentina.
Following rebuilding the locomotive in 1961 it was given the Hunslet Engine Company Works No 3880.
As 3880 the locomotive was sold to the National Coal Board (NCB) in December 1961 and it was deployed at Mountain Ash colliery in South Wales where it became NCB No 8. This was one of the vestiges of steam locomotives in Britain and 3880 remained working there until it was withdrawn from service in 1979.
The locomotive went to the Big Pit Mining Museum at Blaenavon around October 1982.
It is understood that the locomotive spent some time at the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway – the Industrial Railway Society record it as being there in 2006. It was never steamed there.
The locomotive subsequently moved to the Dean Forest Railway where it was restored to steam in 2017 and is now running as WD152 Rennes in Longmoor Military Railway blue livery.