Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn     Works No 7609    NCB  No 31 Meteor 0-6-0T

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This locomotive was built in 1950 by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn and spent its industrial working life at the National Coal Board (NCB).

It was delivered new in April 1950 as one of three locomotive that had been ordered to haul passenger trains on the as a 24 hour passenger operation existed on the extensive NCB system at Ashington. The NCB took the decision to stop officially carrying regular passengers in 1949 but the it continued to invest in stock for the miners’ service. Two more new locomotives were ordered in 1954 to a different design for this purpose. The last miners’ train ran in May 1966.

The locomotive moved to Whittle Colliery near Alnwick in Northumberland in May 1969.

It was no longer in service by the middle of 1972 by which time it was in a run down condition. Whittle had hardly any maintenance facilities and the engine was not liked by the crews there. One reason was that with inside cylinders, access for oiling up was not easy.

The locomotive was sold to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) in early 1973.

It was operational on the NYMR around 1980 after being overhauled. Whilst it was based there it was given the name Meteor.

At some stage it was sold to the Avon Valley Railway – the Industrial Railway Society noted it was there in 2006.

The locomotive is now based at the East Somerset Railway where it is undergoing an overhaul which includes the provision of a new firebox.

A change in policy on the East Somerset Railway in early 2020 meant that the locomotive was no longer regarded as a being required for the railway. As a result the railway reached an agreement with the owner that the locomotive should be moved to a new home where it could be returned to service. It is believed that the owner is prepared to sell it or come to an arrangement regarding its use.

The locomotive was still available for sale in January 2021.

Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn 7609 at NCB Ashington - September 1964.jpg
7609 at NCB Ashington – September 1964
7609 at Ashington – 1966
Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn 7609.jpg
7609 at Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway – October 1978
Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn 7609 on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway - October 1982.jpg
Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn 7609 on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway – October 1982

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