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Travel North - 53: North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group, Work Undertaken in Steam Preservation

NELPG Ballot has underwritten work on J72 69023

See below for J72 profile, her origins and work to be carried out to get her running again, and back in the public eye...

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The Group began with a meeting of steam enthusiasts at a Newcastle hotel close to the Tyne...

NELPG's Q6 63395 celebrated her 'official' 100th in January, 2019 with a pint bottle of 'Newky broon' (Newcastle Brown Ale). Wouldn't have done her pipes any good, only wet her whistle! She'd been 'outshopped' from Darlington North Road December 1918

NELPG's Q6 63395 celebrated her 'official' 100th in January, 2019 with a pint bottle of 'Newky broon' (Newcastle Brown Ale). Wouldn't have done her pipes any good, only wet her whistle! She'd been 'outshopped' from Darlington North Road December 1918

1966 was a year for sporting triumphs. We won the World Cup, didn't we? Another event was overshadowed by the performance of Bobby Moore and his lads...

This was a get-together of like-minded enthusiasts who considered British Railway's bid to end steam traction altogether on the UK's metals over-hasty. Among the enthusiasts who assembled by the lineside in the last throes of North East steam working some felt it worth a go to save some of our industrial heritage from the efficiency of the scrap yards to win a part of British Railways' booty and make some cash for themselves. Interesting one of the scrap merchants' names was Cashmore.

So there was some local interest in seeing a report in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle of 26th October, 1966 - less than a year before the end of steam in the region - that announced a gathering of the founder members of the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) two days later at the Bridge Hotel on the north bank of the Tyne - appropriately close to Robert Stephenson's High Level Bridge.

The meeting took place in an upstairs room attended by John Arnott Brown, Bob Anderson, , Mick Denholm, Godfrey Valentine, J. Calderwood, Russell Wear, Dave Johnson, Alan Kane, J. Gallow, John Newbegin, Alan Wharram, John Shaw, Robin Daw, Kevin Gould, Chris Smyth, Peter Proud, Neville Stead, Richard Wheeler and Kevin Hudspith. How many of the original nineteen were able to attend the 50th anniversary dinner at the Bridge Hotel on 28th October, 2016? Certainly regrets were expressed at the passing of some and the inability of others to attend because of sickness or distance.

On that memorable evening a majority vote elected.to buy a J27 0-6-0 on price consideration alone, although a sizeable minority had opted for the Q6 0-8-0 and a few were interested in buying both. The kitty stood at 5s 6d (27.5 pence) after the tab was paid for the hire of the room. Kevin Hudspith, Peter Proud and Kevin Gould were the far-sighted members who had called that first meeting and initiated forming the NELPG. For a full account of events you could do worse than to invest in a book titled "Keeping North Eastern Steam Alive", that chronicles the group's history and progress over the past half-century.

I've been a member of NELPG for some years now, and a Patron Member for a little less. For my £7 monthly contribution I'm entitled to a few perks, including trips ehind one of the group's locomotives on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) if I can get there for those dates (being a NYMR.shareholder also entitles me to a free ride from Pickering to Whitby on AGM days, if I can get there...). I've been on one or two days out and visited both Hopetown and Deviation Shed on open days and at other times when I can. Being a steam enthusiast brings a few emotional moments when a veteran locomotive is steamed for the first time after long overhauls. It's a grand life... at times

With the operating future of 65894 becoming clearer with a return to steam forecast, the future of J72 69023 became uncertain.

A ballot has been held to back - or not - the committee's proposal to use around £225K+ of NELPG's reserves in bringing 69023 to running order before the S&DR Bicentenary. The result was an overwhelming "Yes!" (see below for details)

Here's the story so far: Despite great efforts being made the firebox tubeplate still leaked and a decision was made to retube, which would take NELPG to the official withdrawal date of 25th Augut, 2018. The cost of the retube would have been met from earnings (on the Wensleydale Railway) up to the time of withdrawal from service. However, as the small tubes were being removed it became clearer that the tubeplate was worse than thought. The holes for the tubes had noticeable size variations and thus the ligaments - solid copper between tube holes - also revealed size variations.

Before taking further action it was decided to seek advice from the boiler inspector. On his visit to Hopetown he suggested the ten yearly overhaul be undertaken straight away as he was unhappy with the state of the tubeplate. Additionally, access to the interior of the boiler is severely restricted until five longitudinal stays, the regulator and regulator rod are removed. Moreover a slim volunteer was needed, who was willing to go into the boiler. Following consultation the decision was taken to defer work being undertaken until the following committee meeting when an overall review of the group's locomotives - 69023 included - would be considered.

Recently 'Joem' has been very popular, with numerous requests to hire her. It would be a disservice to her popularity to leave her to languish indefinitely in a shed. The committee decided to take on the ten yearly overhaul with the following conditions in mind:

1. That this would go ahead as finances allowed;

2. Someone with relevant experience would have to be on hand to lead the overhaul; 3. The workforce to undertake the overhaul at Hopetown would need to be recruited from the technical membership.

*A ballot of members was called in June, 2020 to gain support for funds to be allowed for the repair of 69023, to the tune of £225,000. The funds are held by NELPG, although the committee can't just take funds over £50,000 in accordance with rules set for charities (established in the wake of serious fraud in some well-known charities). Support was recommended, and measures put in place for the ballot to be counted and verified within strict guidelines. See the web site for details. With luck we'll see this popular veteran run again soon, as she has done, most recently on the Wensleydale Railway.

In NELPG NEWS No. 318, August 2020: "Ballot result - J72 Overhaul Expenditure.

The following motion was detailed in June News, with accompanying ballot paper.

The Board seeks the approval of members, by ballot, for the expenditure, including contingency, of up to £285,000 for the overhaul of J72 69023.

This motion was presented in accordance with the NELPG Articles of Association and, to be carried, it requires not less than a 75% of the votes cast. This requirement is in accordance with the Companies Act 2006 and the General Provisions about Resolutions.

The motion was presented to members by ballot, rather than by holding a Special General Meeting (including proxy voting) because of the social distancing and other restrictions imposed by the Government during the current Coronavirus outbreak. As a result, the ballot was, in essence, a Special General Meeting (SGM) to seek approval of the Motion.

I am pleased to report that the result of the ballot was an overwhelming and heartening vote in favour of the project. Many thanks to all who voted. Some two fifths of the returned ballot papers were received by e-mail, three fifths by post. The project will now press ahead with arrangements to repair the boiler and to cast the new cylinder block....

[Ballot result figures show of the 690 members 285 votes were cast, 282 in favour, 3 against, with no abstentions].

Roy Marshall, NELPG Company Secretary (and Returning Officer)

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So our J72 is set to steam again. There is an additional Appeal, see the link to the NELPG Website below

... And speaking of 65894, Oxford Rail's OO-Gauge J27 with early emblem arrived early August - see below

Oxford Rail's J27 with early 'cycling lion' emblem I renumbered to 65894 ... See the model section at the foot of the page

Oxford Rail's J27 with early 'cycling lion' emblem I renumbered to 65894 ... See the model section at the foot of the page

Work can begin on Class J72 69023 after NELPG Ballot. Designed 1898 originally as Class E1 by Wilson Worsdell, NER Loco Superintendent, last batch 1951

Seen here in 1951 under construction at North Road Works, Darlington as BR(NE) 69023 - used prmarily on pilot/shunting duties at York, then Newcastle-upon-Tyne Class E1 built 1898, further batches under LNER (1930s) and BR (1950s) photo: HD Bowtell

Seen here in 1951 under construction at North Road Works, Darlington as BR(NE) 69023 - used prmarily on pilot/shunting duties at York, then Newcastle-upon-Tyne Class E1 built 1898, further batches under LNER (1930s) and BR (1950s) photo: HD Bowtell

69023 stands proudly after overhaul at the workshops of ICI Wilton on Teesside, resplendent in the livery she'd have borne as station pilot at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the last years of steam)

69023 stands proudly after overhaul at the workshops of ICI Wilton on Teesside, resplendent in the livery she'd have borne as station pilot at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the last years of steam)

Class J72 0-6-0 tank locomotive arrives at Hopetown, Darlington on a low loader for overhaul, mid December, 2004 (R Pearson)

Class J72 0-6-0 tank locomotive arrives at Hopetown, Darlington on a low loader for overhaul, mid December, 2004 (R Pearson)

A fracture in the cylinder block was the main reason for work needed, with other jobs arising. Here the cylinder block is lifted from the frames

A fracture in the cylinder block was the main reason for work needed, with other jobs arising. Here the cylinder block is lifted from the frames

The cylinder block has been split for investigation into damage and possible causes. With these veterans one job can very easily lead to another... and another

The cylinder block has been split for investigation into damage and possible causes. With these veterans one job can very easily lead to another... and another

The cylinder block is refitted to 69023. A step in the right direction to getting her back on the rails again as a revenue earner!

The cylinder block is refitted to 69023. A step in the right direction to getting her back on the rails again as a revenue earner!

Three ways to donate to the fund:

Online by the NELPG website, https://www.nelpg.org.uk, you'll find instructions to donate by PayPal, BACS or postal.

Queries on donating can be directed to Dave Pennock by phone 44 (0)1423 868138 or by e-mail: dave.pennock@nelpg.org.uk

"We're all unpaid volunteers. Our pride comes from what we do and how we work together with our 'team-mates'. Be one of us".

Volunteers crowd around K1 62005 at Hellifield on the Settle & Carlisle Railway on their way to the West Highland Line. Maybe you'll be a volunteer with them, or support their work. Maybe you'll travel to Fort William or the Kyle of Lochalsh to visit

Volunteers crowd around K1 62005 at Hellifield on the Settle & Carlisle Railway on their way to the West Highland Line. Maybe you'll be a volunteer with them, or support their work. Maybe you'll travel to Fort William or the Kyle of Lochalsh to visit

North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group

  • North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group
    The North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group (NELPG) exists to foster interest in, and to preserve examples of, steam locomotives, rolling stock and other items of railway interest connected with the North East of England.

NELPG is a charity run by volunteers...

Members' ages run from early teens as Junior Volunteers to octogenarians - early members, some railwaymen, who joined at the first meeting in the Railway Hotel, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Past retirement age, still involved in one way or another they'll go on being railway men. It's a hobby, all the same, keeping these engines on the rails and overhauled on a regular basis with grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and elsewhere in view of the lasting pleasure they bring to tourists and enthusiasts alike.; associations are formed with preserved, re-opened railways and national networks to demonstrate that steam - however old - is still alive and reaches young or old in the same way. The sight of a steam locomotive can bring a lump to the throat, a tear to the eye of those - like me - who can recall travelling behind a steam locomotive from the North East to Kings Cross Station, London, until the early 1960s.

Join NELPG and help keep these veterans in steam even if only by your monthly contributions. Some of you might even be technically versatile and willing to have a go at learning how to tell a big end from a cylinder block, and fixing it.

If you'd like to see NEL:PG's locomotives run for other generations to enjoy watching them in motion, leave a legacy, look into the NELPG web site (or consult an accountant). If you're a UK taxpayer you could also make a donation that will go further by ticking the box on a form where it says 'Gift Aid'

North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group's 50 year history

You can buy the book from Amazon or you can contact NELPG direct for a copy/ copies:

You can buy the book from Amazon or you can contact NELPG direct for a copy/ copies:

Over 50 years Keeping North Eastern Steam Alive - Keeping You Abreast Of Developments

A measure of achievement by dedicated enthusiasts to maintain a visible presence since 1966

A measure of achievement by dedicated enthusiasts to maintain a visible presence since 1966

From the front buffer beam end, 65894 is inched slowly down the ramp to be rejoined with her tender

From the front buffer beam end, 65894 is inched slowly down the ramp to be rejoined with her tender

65894 back in the running on the Wensleydale line over the crossing at Bedale on the way to Redmire, August 2019

65894 back in the running on the Wensleydale line over the crossing at Bedale on the way to Redmire, August 2019

It's nearly here! Oxford Rail's J27, 65837 seen here with 1950-59 Percy Main (52E)  allocation sporting the;'cycling lion' totem  - see below for more

It's nearly here! Oxford Rail's J27, 65837 seen here with 1950-59 Percy Main (52E) allocation sporting the;'cycling lion' totem - see below for more

One in a series of Michael Marsden's filmed recordings of steam in the region

Number 34 of the series, "Steam In The North East" also features NELPG engines when in British Railways' North Eastern Region revenue earning service

Number 34 of the series, "Steam In The North East" also features NELPG engines when in British Railways' North Eastern Region revenue earning service

Marsden Rail

  • Railwayvideos.com
    DVD recordings (from videos using original material by retired farmer Michael Marsden - and compiled from fellow enthusiasts' film footage - from the 1950s to 1960s steam traffic movements around the country, notably the North East and Yorkshire

At various stages in his excellent series of videos/dvd's, the late Michael Marsden featured locomotives since bought from British Railways or privately - such as J72 69023 - or have managed, maintained and run for others (the NRM's Q7 No. 901 in LNER livery, and A2 60532 'Blue Peter').

There is also a DVD from GB Production under the heading 'Steam Spotlight' titled 'North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group' - running time 120 minutes; see WWW.steamingthroughbritain.co.uk - telephone connection 44 (0)115 9524800

Sunday, May 20th saw the return to public timetables on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway of NELPG's Class J27 65894

Class J27 (North Eastern Railway Class P3) 0-6-0 65894 starts from the Down Platform with a three-coach Gresley teak set on the 16.30 working to Pickering (strictly speaking 'Up from Grosmont) (Neal Woods)

Class J27 (North Eastern Railway Class P3) 0-6-0 65894 starts from the Down Platform with a three-coach Gresley teak set on the 16.30 working to Pickering (strictly speaking 'Up from Grosmont) (Neal Woods)

65894 gets the 'right away' from the platform at Goathland (Neal Woods)

65894 gets the 'right away' from the platform at Goathland (Neal Woods)

65894 arrives under the footbridge at Pickering on the 'U'p platform and.... (Neal Woods)

65894 arrives under the footbridge at Pickering on the 'U'p platform and.... (Neal Woods)

The crew and fellow NELPG works personnel take a bow near the front of the engine - see below for 'introductions' (Terry Newman)

The crew and fellow NELPG works personnel take a bow near the front of the engine - see below for 'introductions' (Terry Newman)

Class J27 65894 in July, 1967, Monkwearmouth two months before the end of steam in the North East

Class J27 65894 in July, 1967, Monkwearmouth two months before the end of steam in the North East

Thornaby Shed (51L), 65894 and 63395 await attention following purchase by NELPG

Thornaby Shed (51L), 65894 and 63395 await attention following purchase by NELPG

NELPG Sunday 20th May, 2018, Grosmont Station near Whitby, North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Ex-NER/LNER/BR(NE) Class J27 65894 left Grosmont on the 16.30 Pickering service with a three-coach Gresley LNER livery teak set. Two days of 'fettling' preceded the scheduled departure. Some minor jobs needed to be identified during previous trial running-in turns, and further running-in turns on the Sunday to ensure all was in good oder.

Driver was Neal Woods, Terry Newman the inspector to mark the huge contribution both had made to the long overhaul leading to the welcome return to service of this steam veteran. All involved in the last few weeks commented on how smoothly the locomotive ran. It was a great tribute to them for the time and effort they had put in over the years at Hopetown (North Road, Darlington, former S&DR carriage works) in the overhaul..

Richard Worrell fired, Richard Pearson also attended, having carried out a second technical inspection of the locomotive to check on oil,, water and coal consumption and make necessary adjustments. The report from the crew was that 65894 performed well.

65894 will take this three coach teak set on Pickering-Grosmont runs on the diagram below:

Pickering 11.00 - Grosmont. 12.05; Grosmont 12.30 - Pickering 13.40; Pickering 14.00 - Grosmont 15.05; to shed for routine examination, Grosmont 16.30, Pickering 17.35

With the locomotive back in service rostering will be in the hands of the MPD, details on the NYMR web site. It is likely her regular diagram will be the teak set as illustrated, with service gaps for washouts and any running maintenance that might prove necessary.

Now the J27 is back in service Dave Pennock has arranged a formal launch train for the Press and contributors to the overhaul on June 21st. See the Steam Locomotive Preservation press for their coverage.

*June 19th: 65894 has so far done over 650 miles on the NYMR since May, when I posted the information above, running trouble-free and riding smoothly. A strong old girl - 100 years+ old - she will be in regular service on the 11.00 Pickering departure with a five coach Gresley teak set (courtesy of the LNER Coach Association based at Pickering). The return working from Grosmont will leave 12.30, again from Pickering 14.00 and Grosmont 16.30. If she stayed on the NYMR during the GOLD timetable period during the height of the season that ends 1st September she would see only occasional use. However NELPG is in talks with the Wensleydale Railway, who would like to see a replacement for the J72 'Joem' on Leeming Bar-Redmire turns. She would be able to handle the same trains with ease. Whether that will come to fruition remains open and I'll keep you posted here.

Information courtesy of Chris Lawson, Chairman NELPG


Previously, in mid-May, 2018 at Deviation Shed, Grosmont, 65894 underwent steam trials

65894 undergoes steam tests and 'fettling' at Deviation Shed, mid-May, 2018 (Neal Woods)

65894 undergoes steam tests and 'fettling' at Deviation Shed, mid-May, 2018 (Neal Woods)

65894 rests at Pickering after testing (Neal Woods)

65894 rests at Pickering after testing (Neal Woods)

NER Drawing, Class P3 0-6-0 inside cylinder mineral and branch goods locomotive

NER Drawing, Class P3 0-6-0 inside cylinder mineral and branch goods locomotive

Class J27, designed 1906 as Class P3 by Wilson Worsdell, NER Loocomotive Superintendent

[Weekly progress reports on 65894 are posted on the NELPG website. To keep up with developments go to 'Locomotives', then 'J27' or any of the four NELPG locomotives, J27, J72, K1, or Q6 and click on the appropriate blogs - see link below]

In the move from Hopetown Works at Darlington a small problem with a signalman who had failed duty due to illness was overcome. All went ahead on Monday, 19th February as planned. Chris Cubitt manned the diesel that would tow 65894 on a trial run. Dave Tibbett was guard on the brakevan that brought up the rear, with Paul Hutchinson and Adrian Dennis riding as fitters on the engine. Paul reported all went smoothly on the move,

"Mechanically it could hardly have been better. Only the left leading side rod bush got any more than cold. There was, however, nothing to worry about at any time and it had completely settled down by the time we got to Grosmont. the cylinder block warmed up a little (to 60 degrees C), but with the large volumes of air being shifted this was not surprising. I tried the reverser at several cut offs and the engine and I agreed that 50% was about right. We stopped regularly to check around and to dose the pistons and valves with lubricating oil. Speed was limited to 10 mph. We tried it at 15 mph for a while but it quickly became apparent that this was just a little too fast for the front end. The engine and tender rode very well. All of this bodes well for when the engine runs under its own power. well done to Neal Woods who oversaw much of the work that was tested today".

Engine and tender were split, the tender put into Deviation Shed behind the Q6 (63395) tender whilst the engine was shunted into the Fabrication Shop for checking over and onset of work. To make space 'Hartland' (ex-Southern Region Pacific) was moved out of Deviation Shed and No. 8 road freed for the No. 29 Weltrol from behind the Q6, along with 'Lucie' which had been in the Fabrication Shop. Components were unloaded from the tender with additional items being brought from Hopetown by Nigel Hall in numerous vanloads over the following work sessions. Finally the cab, the front sandboxes, chimney and spare springs were moved by h.i.a.b on Saturday, 3rd March, the cab fitted onto the frames. From then there was considerable activity. Phil Naylor finished de-rivetting the old smokebox wrapper and started with preparing the smokebox for when the new one would be fitted as advised by the NYMR shed staff being the most cost-effective way of taking the job onward. The smokebox door front plate was re-erected and squared off ready to take the new wrapper - delivered from Teesside that same afternoon. It was in two halves to make fitting easier and work was expected to start the week beginning 12th March. At the end of the month the tender was filled with coal, the tank watered. Minor leaks were found and solved. The outer cladding would prove a prickly problem, though, as the top longitudinal crinoline that led from the cab front to the dome was about a half inch out (off centre) at the dome end. Whilst possible to fit the first sheet, time-consuming adjustment and refitting of new fixing holes was a vexing problem on the next sheet and a decision was made to weld in a new piece to to centre it and allow the cladding to be fitted. Aside from that work was about on target for week commencing 8th April.. It would not be until 27th April that the first steam test could be held. The cladding was eventually fitted with two new sheets round the firebox... following which the mechanism to operate the sandboxes needed adjustment after installation. What it is to be a grand old centenarian lady, eh? Work will involve checking and more adjustment during winter maintenance in order to avoid more headaches for the 2019 season. .

You can find more from the blog on the website.

[Incidentally, Class J27 65894 features early in Marsden Rail DVD Volume 13 "Brakevan To Whitby" introduced by the man himself, when taking a brakevan tour - extra van for paying passengers - of the western edge of Ryedale between Malton and Kirkbymoorside via Helmsley and Gilling. The engine was based at the time at York North (50A). Very interesting footage for those with an eye for local 'flavour'. NELPG's various locomotives crop up often throughout the North Eastern selection - up to 35 with Q6 63395, J72 69023 and K1 62005 sometimes joining J27 65894 in the same DVD].

Thursday-Friday, 30th-31st August, 2018 at Leyburn on the Wensleydale Railway - her last days of operation, 65894 shows her mettle on the way to Redmiire

Driver Terry Newman keeps watch as the tank fills on 65894 - the water crane is fairly new, fed from a water tower on the north side of the line

Driver Terry Newman keeps watch as the tank fills on 65894 - the water crane is fairly new, fed from a water tower on the north side of the line

A footplate visitor is shown around the controls and working parts in the cab

A footplate visitor is shown around the controls and working parts in the cab

Some of said moving parts on show through the cab side window - fireman's side, featuring the traditional white enamel tea can and cup (with handle, centre), shortly to be joined by one for the driver

Some of said moving parts on show through the cab side window - fireman's side, featuring the traditional white enamel tea can and cup (with handle, centre), shortly to be joined by one for the driver

Terry Newman watches for the green flag from the guard at the back of the train...

Terry Newman watches for the green flag from the guard at the back of the train...

And we're off, west to Redmire with fireman Pete James taking a rest to let cleaner Tom Noble shovel the black stuff

And we're off, west to Redmire with fireman Pete James taking a rest to let cleaner Tom Noble shovel the black stuff

 After a tiring day up and down the line, 65894 takes a well earned breather prior to her return to the NYMR, an inspection and short rest before the Autumn Steam Gala, 28-30 September, 2018

After a tiring day up and down the line, 65894 takes a well earned breather prior to her return to the NYMR, an inspection and short rest before the Autumn Steam Gala, 28-30 September, 2018

65894 passes Crake Hall level crossing on her last but one day of running on the Wensleydale Railway (note photographer's vintage car to the right of the gates)

65894 passes Crake Hall level crossing on her last but one day of running on the Wensleydale Railway (note photographer's vintage car to the right of the gates)

The day before I arrived at Leyburn another Wensleydale Railway Association member took this view of a different crew on duty

The day before I arrived at Leyburn another Wensleydale Railway Association member took this view of a different crew on duty