Return to service of North Eastern Railway J72 Locomotive No 69023

Thursday, 10 June 2010 20:32 David Pennock

J72 at Shildon

A historic Darlington steam locomotive is set to return to the rails at Locomotion Shildon on Friday 18th June after completion of a four year restoration project by the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group.

The day is to be celebrated by the working members, honoured guests and ex British Railways footplate men who fired and drove steam engines until the full dieselisation of the railways in 1967. A 97 year young veteran steam driver Albert Hawman will be a guest of honour on the day.

The restoration project, led by volunteers, based at Hopetown, Darlington has through some 10,000 hours of volunteer time and £150,000 of expenditure enabled the locomotive to steam once again and be used to promote the North East’s proud steam and railway heritage. We also acknowledge the support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) whose grant of £50,000 has greatly assisted the restoration project.

John Hunt Chairman of the NELPG said ‘It is a proud day for the Group to welcome back this Victorian designed engine and I pay tribute to the long hours spent by the Group’s volunteers to bring the locomotive back to life. We look forward to running the locomotive at museums and heritage railways for the public to enjoy and experience the sounds, smells and travel of the steam age’.

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the North East, Ivor Crowther, said: “This steam locomotive is a great example of the rich steam and railway heritage of the North East and we at the Heritage Lottery Fund are pleased that it is back where it belongs and in excellent condition. A huge amount of time and hard work has gone into restoring this engine, and we are proud to have supported the volunteers and the project team who have made this project a success.”

The engine has been completed in an apple green livery with railway crests once carried by sister locomotives which worked as station pilots at Newcastle and York stations during the 1950s and early 1960s.

The engine is booked to become Locomotion’s resident operating engine during 2010 and will provide train rides and driver experience days at the museum.

Locomotive History

The locomotive is the sole survivor of a North Eastern Railway J72 type steam 0-6-0 tank locomotive of which 113 were constructed over a period of 53 years between 1898 and 1951.

They were used for shunting carriages and freight wagons at stations and railway yards throughout the North East until their final demise in 1966. No 69023 was from the batch built by British Railways in 1951 perpetuating the successful Victorian design at a time of urgent post war need for additional shunting locomotives prior to the wholesale introduction of diesel traction in the late 1950’s and early 1960s.

It was privately purchased upon withdrawal from British Rail and the NELPG subsequently acquired the locomotive in 1982 with assistance from the Transport Heritage Fund with the support of the National Railway Museum in York.

North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

The NELPG owns and operates four ex British Railways steam locomotives built between 1918 and 1952. It was formed in 1966 with the aim of saving examples of North Eastern steam locomotives and fostering interest in the railways of the North East.

We are a registered charity and principally operate our locomotives on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway between Pickering, Grosmont and Whitby. We have workshops at Hopetown, Darlington and Grosmont. New members are always welcome and for contact details please visit our web site:

Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported 33,900 projects, allocating £4.4billion across the UK including £209million in the North East.  Website:

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 21:06