Built by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1937 at Doncaster and originally numbered 4488, it was named after the then newly formed Union of South Africa. It had previously been allocated the name Osprey on 17 April 1937, but was renamed Union of South Africa to operate the Coronation streamlined train. It eventually carried the name Osprey in the 1980s and 1990s. This was due to the contemporary political opposition against South Africa, which undertook a controversial policy of racial apartheid from 1948–94. The name Osprey had previously been carried by A4 No. 4494 (renamed after the LNER director Andrew K. McCosh after 1942) and LNER Peppercorn Class A1 No. 60131 from 1949–65. 60009's name has since reverted to Union of South Africa. The works number was 1853; the plaques are located in the cab itself and not on the exterior cab sides as is the usual practice.

On 24 October 1964 Union of South Africa hauled the last booked steam-hauled train from Kings Cross. It was the last loco to be overhauled at Doncaster whilst in service. 60009 was withdrawn from British railways service on 1 June 1966.

Purchased by John Cameron in July 1966, 60009 was preserved on the now-defunct Lochty Private Railway in Fife, Scotland, travelling the 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of track near Anstruther.

In 1973, the loco left the Lochty Private Railway by road and was taken to Ladybank to be rerailed on the National Network, from there it was taken to Kirkcaldy and was based in the former goods shed and worked occasional tours based from the Fife town. After a few years at Kirkcaldy, it moved to Markinch and took up residency in the former good shed where it stayed until May 1994 with the exception of a couple of years in a shed in the yard at nearby Thornton. Following the 1989 overhaul, she started to work railtours all over the United Kingdom. It has since accumulated the highest mileage of any locomotive in the class. In May 1994, the locomotive left its Markinch base for the last time albeit on the back of a low loader bound for Bridgnorth and repairs. Its route took it over the Forth Road Bridge and in doing so became the only steam loco to cross both the Forth Bridge and the adjacent Forth Road Bridge.

In April 2007 it returned home to Scotland, with the Railway Touring Company's The Great Britain railtour being the first work and thence to its new base at Thornton. During 2007, it hauled the regular Scarborough Spa Express from York to Scarborough via Knaresborough, Harrogate and Leeds.

In 2008, it was continuing to work with the Railway Touring Company, scheduled to pull trains running between York and Edinburgh on several occasions during the first half of 2008. Union of South Africa appeared at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway LNER Festival 2008, along with 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley and 60019 Bittern, the first time that all three locomotives were together in preservation.

In light of the expiration of her boiler certificate, Union of South Africa arrived at Pete Waterman's LNWR Workshops at the Crewe Heritage Centre in 2010, undergoing an extensive overhaul. She returned to steam in mid-2012, hauling her first tours for the West Coast Railway Company on 22 and 23 July.

 

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