The Q6 was an unglamorous freight workhorse that plied the tracks of the north east of England for 50 years. Remarkably, along with the class J27s, it was one of the very few pre-Grouping steam locomotives to survive right up to the end of steam on British Railways.

Capturing the imagination of countless enthusiasts in the final days of steam operation in County Durham and Northumberland, one of the last survivors, 63395, became the subject of a purchase appeal by the Newcastle based North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group, which had successfully acquired a J27, 65894, in December 1967.

Following purchase, the locomotive, like 65894, was restored to work on the then fledgling North Yorkshire Moors Railway, being delivered in June 1970, but was withdrawn for a major ten-year overhaul in 1982.

Commitments with the NELPG’s other locomotives – the K1 62005, J72 69023, Q7 901, J27 65894 and last, but by no means least, A2 60532 Blue Peter– meant that the Q6 took a back seat, placed on display in the NELPG’s Deviation Shed at Grosmont. Gradually, pressure grew for its return to steam and in 2000 a start was made on its major overhaul – the most comprehensive in the NELPG’s history - which was completed in 2008.

History

Wilson Worsdell introduced the first T class 0-8-0 on the North Eastern Railway in 1901, but Vincent Raven carried on the development of the T1 when he designed the superheated outside cylinder class T2 0-8-0s for handling the heavy goods trains of the North Eastern Railway. A total of 120 engines were built at the NER’s Darlington Works between 1913 and 1918. An engine was produced that could be driven all out - full regulator and full forward gear – for indefinite periods at anything up to mineral train speeds. In 1915 examples of the class had undergone dynamometer trials on 700 ton trains between Newport and Shildon, putting up some impressive performances and comparing very favourably with the then newly introduced electric locomotives working that line.

The T2s, or Q6s as they were later classified by the London and North Eastern Railway and British Railways, proved to be extremely successful, carrying on a fine NER tradition for freight haulage right up until the demise of steam in the North East in 1967. As a measure of their success, the basic design of the locomotive was never altered, though some engines – including 63395 – received tenders from the famous three cylinder NER Atlantics. As class T2 No.2238, 63395 was completed by the NER at Darlington North Road Works on 2nd December 1918, one of eight built that year.

Following completion, 2238 was sent to Gateshead for running-in and allocated to Blaydon depot where it remained for 25 years. Its first re-allocation as part of a large wartime reshuffle was to Newport (Middlesbrough) allocations also followed at Darlington, West Hartlepool, and Hull Dairycoates, preceded six years allocated to Selby depot. On 14 June 1959 63395 was transferred once more to Darlington Bank Top, and then to Consett, before the engine was finally sent to Sunderland South Dock on 23rd May 1965. From here the Q6 worked south to Vane Tempest, Seaham, Teesside and South Hetton, and northwards to the Tyne, ironically ending its days where they had begun almost 50 years before. 63395 was the final Q6 to be overhauled at Darlington Works in September 1965 and, along with 63387 of Hartlepool shed, was the last Q6 in service. Following withdrawal, on 9th September 1967, 63395 was moved into store at Tyne Dock shed pending preservation.

The locomotive was purchased by the NELPG on 1 April 1968 and whilst work started on the restoration at Tyne Dock, the unsafe condition of the building meant that the engine was moved to Hartlepool depot on 4 October 1968 for preparation for hydraulic testing and repainting. However, the working conditions here forced another move, this time to Thornaby depot, on 17 February 1969. Here the boiler was re-tubed, hydraulically tested and, on 18th October 1969, successfully steamed. Vacuum brake and steam heating were fitted for the first time, and on 25 June 1970 the locomotive travelled in steam from Thornaby to Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Specification

The locomotive weighs over 110 tons when in working order and is over 60 feet in length. The wheel arrangement is 0-8-0 and the 4' 7¼" driving wheels are driven by two cylinders (20" dia. by 26" stroke) controlled by Stephenson link valve gear. The working boiler pressure is 180 psi. and the locomotive produces a tractive effort is 28,800lb.

For further information please visit NELPG Website

 

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