This locomotive was built in 1945, to a Hunslet Engine Company design, by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn for the Ministry of Defence.
See LNER class J944 for details.
The locomotive was bought by Manchester Collieries and it spent almost all of its working in Lancashire. After the nationalisation of the coal industry and the forming of the National Coal Board (NCB) in January 1947 it came under the control of the NCB West Lancashire. Area where it was deployed at Bickershaw Colliery near Leigh and Walkden.
Several of the engines on this system were named after prominent colliery employees. This locomotive was named after the late Fred Hilton who at one time had been the locomotive superintendent of the Manchester Collieries railway system.
In the early 1960s Hunslet Engine Company rebuilt a number of locomotives that had been supplied to the Ministry of Defence. 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.
This locomotive was rebuilt in this way in 1964 – I presume by Hunslet although I cannot find any reference to a Hunslet works number.
By the time the locomotive arrived at Haworth on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway in 1969 the underfeed stoker was defunct and was subsequently removed. The locomotive was restored at Haworth and operated there for a number of years.
The locomotive is now part of the Somerset & Dorset Locomotive Collection and is based at Tyseley where it is being overhauled.
|7289 at Haworth – May 1971|
|7289 at Tyseley – June 2008|