No.17 is undergoing overhaul by Shed 47 Group, Lathalmond, Fife. It is an example of the largest (16″ diameter cylinder) standard Barclay product. It was delivered new to the National Coal Board to work on colliery railways around Twechar in Dunbartonshire, and worked at Gartshore, Cardowan and Bedlay collieries. After Bedlay closed in 1981, No.17 moved to Barony Colliery in Ayrshire, where in 1982 it became the National Coal Board’s last working steam locomotive in Britain.
In 1948 the National Coal Board Scottish Division, Area 3, Central West, based in Glasgow placed an order with Andrew Barclay for a 16″ x 24″ 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive similar to one supplied to Warrington Gas Works. The intention was that this locomotive would be allocated to the Twechar Railway system near Kilsyth, as this was experiencing an increase in traffic with an aged locomotive fleet.
Due to materials shortages Andrew Barclays (AB) were not able to deliver the completed locomotive until 1950. The post-war allocation of steel, copper and brass, together with prioritisation of work by the Ministry of Supply, contributed to the delay.
AB 2296 remained at Twechar pug shed from 1950 until September 1964 when it was transferred to Gartshore Nos. 9 & 11 Colliery. During its period of use at Twechar it was overhauled on a number of occasions at Twechar Workshops, which had formerly been the central workshops of William Baird’s colliery estate. It was provided with electric lighting powered by a steam turbo-generator, which assisted night shift working on the Twechar Railway.
Between January 1962 and March 1967 Gartshore Nos. 9 & 11 Colliery was part of the NCB Scottish Division Central Area, which was an amalgam of the remaining units from the original Central East and West Areas. Gartshore No. 9 & 11 transferred to the new NCB Scottish North Area in March 1967 and the colliery subsequently closed twelve months later.
During May 1968 AB 2296 was transferred to Cardowan Colliery at Stepps, near Glasgow. By September 1972 the locomotive had been transferred to Cowdenbeath Central Workshops for an assessment prior to overhaul.
The overhaul assessment was positive and the locomotive was overhauled and transferred to Bedlay Colliery, Glenboig, by June 1973. The overhaul budget did not extend to re-lagging the locomotive’s boiler after the asbestos lagging had been removed. Therefore it ran in an un-lagged condition for the rest of its active life.
In July 1973, due to further rationalisation within the industry, the NCB Scottish North and South Areas were combined to form the Scottish Area. Bedlay Colliery was one of the active units at the time of the creation of the new area structure.
Coal winding at Bedlay Colliery ceased on Friday 11th December 1981. AB 2296 had the dubious honour of being the very last conventional steam locomotive in regular industrial service in Scotland. During April 1982 AB 2296 was transferred to Barony Colliery near Auchinleck in Ayrshire.
AB 2296 was steamed at least once at Barony Colliery, but was spare to a diesel fleet on an internal railway system that was in decline. Not long after transfer to Barony an internal re-organisation of the underground workings at Barony and the neighbouring Killoch Colliery resulted in all coal being wound at Killoch. This resulted in the complete closure of the internal surface railway system at Barony Colliery and AB 2296 was placed in open storage. When Barony Colliery closed in 1989, AB 2296 was the last steam locomotive in the ownership of the British Coal Corporation (NCB).
In 1989 the locomotive was donated to the Scottish Railway Preservation Society by the NCB and it was transported to the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway.
It is currently off-site at Shed 47 Lathalmond Bus Museum where it is being restored.