This locomotive was built in 1863 by Sharp Stewart & Co. of Manchester as one of a batch of eight 0-4-0 tender locomotives supplied between 1863 and 1866. It became Furness Railway number 25.
The rapid growth of traffic on the Furness Railway in the 1860’s resulted in these small four wheeled engines soon becoming obsolescent. In 1870 the first six of the class, FR numbers 17, 18, 19, 20, 25 and 26 were sold to the Barrow Haematite Steel Co (BHSC) at Barrow. This company, formed in 1864, had very close links with the Furness Railway and at the time possessed the biggest Iron and Steelworks in the world supplying steel rails to railways across the world.
For many years it was assumed that the BHSC numbers allocated followed the same sequence as the locomotives had had on the Furness Railway. This led to a riddle about the engine’s true identity that lasted for a century. Later it became know that the FR Co.’s No 25 become BHSC No 17. FR locomotives Nos 27 and 28 of the same class were retained by the FR until withdrawal in 1918.
It is believed that Sharp Stewart & Co took the six, still very new, engines back to the works, to convert them to saddle tanks before delivery to the BHSC.
|As rebuilt for the Barrow Haematite Steel Co as number 17|
In 1960 the locomotives were replaced by diesel power and instead of being scrapped, the two remaining former F.R. machines were presented to local schools. BHSC 7 stood in the grounds of the George Hastwell Special School in Abbey Road, Barrow and BHSC 17 at the Stone Cross Special School at Ulverston until the school closed around 1980.
At some stage both the locomotives were bought privately and moved to Steamtown at Carnforth.
What was Furness Railway No 25 and BHSC No 17 appears to have then been completely forgotten about for many years.
At some date the locomotive is believed to have been purchased by Bert Hitchin who intended to restore it.
It has been suggested that the locomotive was put up for sale around 2011.
In May 2018 it was reported that the locomotive had been donated to the Furness Railway Trust who already owned Furness Railway locomotive No 20.
It is anticipated that the locomotive will be moved from the West Coast Railway base at Carnforth to the Ribble Steam Railway headquarters at Preston.
The locomotive will be restored as a saddle tank classmate (Furness Railway No 20) has been restored as a 0-4-0 tender engine.
In November 2018 the frames of the locomotive were moved from Carnforth to the Ribble Steam Railway.