W G Bagnall Works No 2898 Patons 0-4-0F

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This locomotive was built by W G Bagnall and delivered new to the Darlington factory of  wool spinners Paton and Baldwins in 1948. It was overhauled by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns in the late 1950s. At some stage the locomotive acquired the name Patons.

It was a fireless locomotive which means that it had a steam accumulator rather than a boiler and was charged up with steam from a stationary boiler. It also meant that there was no chance of it starting a fire.

The locomotive was employed at the Darlington factory until November 1979 when it was presented on indefinite loan to the Darlington Railway Preservation Society.

Patons and Baldwins’ £5 million Darlington factory was hailed as ‘the most modern and largest single storey plant of its kind in the world’ when it was complete in 1951. It was the first major post-war industrial development in the town. It operated on the ‘flow line’ principle of production. Wool came in from Australasia by rail and moved through giant sheds – average length a third of a mile, the largest covering thirteen and a half acres – in continuous flow. The finished product, packed and labelled, went out by rail. The factory, air conditioned and with each machine individually powered by electric motor, produced three types of yarn – for hand knitting, for weaving, and industrial yarns for machine knitting – in a wide variety of synthetic and natural fibres. No weaving or knitting took place on the site, although a design and publications department producing patterns for home knitters was an important part of the business.

Planning had started in 1942, the scheme was announced in 1945, and building by John Laing and Son of Carlisle began early in 1946. The site of 140 acres, near Lingfield Lane and McMullen Road, incorporated forty acres of buildings with fifty acres of sports fields and gardens.

The two and a half miles of railway track inside the factory area connected to the Stockton to Darlington Railway line which it was located next to.

2898 was the only locomotive that operated at the site ant it obtained steam from the factory’s boilers.

In 1961 Patons and Baldwins merged with J. and P. Coats of Glasgow becoming J. and P. Coats, Patons and Baldwins, otherwise known as Coats Patons, the country’s largest textile group. During the 1960s the firm merged with. Pasold (Ladybird), Sydney Bellman and in 1967 it acquired Jaeger.

The locomotive is now stored at the Darlington Railway Preservation Society centre at Hopetown in Darlington.

2898 in the Darlington Railway Museum – July 1989
2898 at the Darlington Railway Preservation Society centre at Hopetown in Darlington – May 2017

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