W G Bagnall   Works No 2623 Harwarden 0-4-0ST

WB 2623 Hawarden Shelton billet bay  April 2000.jpg
DesignerW G Bagnall
Weight33t 10cwt
Driving Wheels3ft 6½in
Boiler Pressure180psi
CylindersOutside – 15in x 22in
Tractive Effort17,820lbf
Valve Gear

This locomotive which was built in 1940 was the last of a class of only seven locomotives which W G Bagnall designed and built. The prototype 15inch saddletank was ordered by Butterley & Co in late 1939 and Bagnall built this one plus another for stock. As a result when Sheldon were looking to purchase a locomotive in the middle of 1940 the locomotive in stock was able to meant the delivery timescale of six months that Sheldon required. Thus woks number 2623 was delivered to Sheldon in November 1940 at a cost of £2,950.

The locomotive was named after the works of the then parent company, John Summers & Sons Ltd, Hawarden Bridge Steelworks, Shotton, Flints, but differed from its Butterley sister in that it was fitted with a steel firebox instead of a copper one, no doubt as a wartime economy measure.

Hawarden was used more or less continually during the war years and along with the remainder of the fleet had very little maintenance during this period; hence by the late 1940’s it was very much run down. However, the repair shop at Shelton was already overcrowded with a back-log of work and as Bagnall’s works at Stafford was not too far away it was decided to take an unprecedented step and send Hawarden there for overhaul in 1948‑49. Further repairs were carried out at Shelton in 1952 when a copper firebox was fitted to replace the original steel one and thus bring it into line with the rest of the fleet.

The locomotive became a firm favourite, being much preferred to the Barclay engines, and in later years became the regular engine on the “Racecourse Job”. This consisted of shunting the coking plant and coal stocking ground on the site of the Racecourse Colliery, situated parallel to the Cobridge Road.

By early 1966 Hawarden was again getting the worse for wear; in particular its tyres were now very thin and it was becoming very prone to derailment. However, due to the continued unreliability of the diesel fleet it was decided to give it what was to be Shelton’s last steam overhaul and new tyres were ordered.

In June the tyres arrived and Hawarden was taken into the machine shop at Sheldon. The locomotive was stripped down to the frames and then rebuilt. The locomotive emerged from this overhaul in October 1966 and returned to duties the following day.

It continued working the Racecourse until in early 1968 it was decided to close the coking plant at Shelton and do the coking for both Shelton and Hawarden Bridge at Shotton.

This meant that Hawarden was redundant as the Racecourse job no longer existed. Due to its recent overhaul it was then utilised as a spare engine in preference to the ageing Barclays, both of which were not used after September 1969. This left Hawarden as the only steamer in use and it became a common user engine, deputizing for diesels whenever needed and its condition deteriorated accordingly.

In 1969 the inspector failed its boiler with broken stays. Despite a second hand diesel having arrived a few months earlier Hawarden was repaired even though removing the tubes and stays proved to be a long job as the work had to be stopped when the supply of stay rods ran out and was not resumed even when the stay rod arrived.

In April 1970 there was a spate of diesel breakdowns and work started again. The stays and new tubes were fitted, but once more the diesel situation improved and work stopped. Diesel breakdowns caused repair work to restart in June, only to cease again a few days later. Finally the boiler was lowered into position, the cab and tank replaced and it was in steam again and working in August 1970.

Hawarden continued to stand in for the various diesels for the remainder of 1970 and 1971, when there was a reorganisation of internal traffic which coincided with the closure of one of the mills. This reduced the locomotive work but Hawarden remained spare and only undertaking occasional duties in the early months of 1972. In March 1972 the imminent arrival of another diesel meant that Hawarden was going to be scrapped.

The locomotive was then purchased by private individuals who had a close connection with the it and Hawarden was moved by road to the Foxfield Light Railway in March 1973.

The locomotive has remained based on the Foxfield Light Railway where it underwent major overhauls in themed 1980s and 1990s. It is currently undergoing another overhaul.

In August 2019 it was reported that it was hoped that the locomotive would be back in service during 2020.

In the summer of 2020 the locomotive was still undergoing an overhaul.

2623 at Shelton Iron Works – circa 1969
2623 at Dilhorne on the Foxfield Railway – 1976
Bagnall 2623 at the Foxfield Railway - July 1989.jpg
2623 at the Foxfield Railway – July 1989
WB 2623 Hawarden Shelton billet bay  April 2000.jpg
2623 at Shelton Steelworks  – April 2000
2623 pulling Corus Steel flat waggons over the River Derwentinto the Port of Workington. The rail manufacture plant closed in August 2006 and the bridge was destroyed by floods in November 2009. Photo charter – September 2002
Bagnall 2623 on Foxfield Railway - March 2012.jpg
2623 on Foxfield Railway – March 2012

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