LNER Class A4 4488 Union of South Africa

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Union of South Africa
60009 Union of South Africa at Condover 01.jpg
Union of South Africa passes Condover
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Designer Nigel Gresley
Builder LNER
Serial number 1853
Build date June 1937
Configuration 4-6-2
UIC classification 2'C1h3
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Leading wheel
3 ft 2 in (0.965 m)
Driver diameter 6 ft 8 in (2.032 m)
Trailing wheel
3 ft 8 in (1.118 m)
Boiler pressure 250 psi (1.72 MPa)
Cylinders Three
Cylinder size 18.5 in × 26 in (470 mm × 660 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort 35,455 lbf (157.7 kN)
Locomotive brake Vacuum
Train brakes LNER/BR: Vacuum
Now: Dual air and Vacuum
Operator(s) LNER, BR
Class A4
Number in class 15 of 35
Number(s) LNER: 4488,
LNER: 9,
BR: 60009
Official name Union of South Africa
Current owner John Cameron
Disposition Operational and certified for use on Network Rail

60009 Union of South Africa is an LNER Class A4 steam locomotive built in Doncaster in 1937. Also once renamed Osprey (due to political reasons at the time[citation needed]), it is one of six surviving Gresley A4s, currently operational and mainline certified.


Built for the LNER in 1937 and originally numbered 4488, it was named after the then newly formed Union of South Africa. Although it had previously been allocated the name "Osprey" on 17 April 1937, when it came out of the paint shop on 29 June, it had been renamed. "Osprey" name plates were fitted to the locomotive during the 1980s and early 1990s due to the politics of the time. Its name has since reverted to Union of South Africa. The works number of Union of South Africa was 1853; the plaques are located in the cab itself and not on the exterior cab sides as is the usual practice.


The springbok plaque on the side of the locomotive was donated on 12 April 1954 by a Bloemfontein newspaper proprietor. Only the one plaque was fitted on the left hand side of the locomotive. The position has changed on a couple of occasions: originally the plaque was on the boiler side, being moved to the cabsides in preservation. Recently, the plaque has reverted to the historically correct position. 60009 is fitted with an American, Crosby chime whistle in common with other members of its class.


Union of South Africa has worn many liveries throughout her career. The first livery she wore was as 4488 in garter blue, applied on 19 April 1937. The next livery applied was LNER wartime black on 21 March 1942. This livery was amended on 14 August 1943 when the "L" and "R" were removed to confuse potential spies, leaving the all-black locomotive with just "NE" on the tender. 21 February 1947 saw Union of South Africa regain garter blue with red and white lining. Her number was changed to just "9" on 12 January 1946, under the renumbering scheme of Gresley's successor, Edward Thompson. She gained a stainless steel number 9 during this repaint. 4 August 1949 saw 60009 applied with the standard British Railways express passenger blue livery (as 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley is wearing currently in 2008). Finally on 2 October 1952, Union of South Africa was painted in British Railways brunswick green livery. She has worn this livery throughout preservation to date.

Technical details[edit]

As with all 35 of the Gresley A4 pacific steam locomotives, Union of South Africa was fitted with streamlined valances, or side skirting, when she was built. This was found to hinder maintenance and, as with her sisters, it was removed. 4488 lost her valances during a works visit 21 March 1942.


60009 has been fitted with 14 boilers during her career: 8951 (her boiler from new-build), 9129 (a new-build boiler fitted 9 November 1940), 8955 (from 4492 Dominion of New Zealand, 13 January 1945), 9128 (from 2512 Silver Fox, 9 February 1946), 8957 (from 4490 Empire of India, 5 May 1948), 9027 (from 60028 Walter K Whigham, 4 August 1949 - this boiler was renumbered 29279 on 23 November 1950), 29285 (from 60032 Gannet, 22 April 1954), 29278 (from 60013 Dominion of New Zealand, 18 November 1958), 27965 (a new-build boiler, 17 February 1960), 27961 (from 60024 Kingfisher, 19 July 1961) and 29337 (from 60023 Golden Eagle, 6 November 1963).


60009 has had five tenders through her career, of two differing types. The first tender she had was a 1928 pattern streamlined corridor tender. This was a rebuild of a tender fitted to a Class A1 or A3 beforehand, being streamlined and fitted to 4488 from new. This was later changed for a new-build streamlined corridor tender from 1948 - 1963. Currently 60009 is fitted with a 1928 pattern streamlined corridor tender, allowing her cab crew to be changed whilst the locomotive is hauling passenger trains. This tender was originally fitted to the LNER's experimental high-pressure Nº 10000.[1] The tenders she has had were: 5325 (17 April 1937 – 22 March 1948), 5636 (5 May 1948 – 14 May 1948), 5591 (14 May 1948 – 16 July 1963), 5332 (6 November 1963 – 1 June 1966) and 5484 (17 July 1966 – 10 September 1966).

60009 had a double chimney fitted on 18 November 1958. This feature was first fitted to 4468 Mallard back in 1938. As the safety requirements were tightened after the Harrow Rail crash, Automatic Warning Systems or AWS was fitted to all locomotives. 60009 was so fitted on 17 February 1960. At the same time this was done, a Stone-Smith type speed recorder was also fitted.


Union of South Africa was allocated to Haymarket shed in Edinburgh from new and 20 May 1962 she had her only shed transfer to Aberdeen.

On 24 October 1964 it hauled the last booked steam hauled train from Kings Cross. It was twenty minutes late through Grantham owing to a broken rail at High Dyke. It was the last loco to be overhauled at Doncaster whilst in service. 60009 was withdrawn from British railways service on 1 June 1966.


1980s photo, by Les Chatfield

Purchased by John Cameron in July 1966, 60009 was preserved on the now-defunct Lochty Private Railway in Fife, Scotland, travelling the 3 miles (4.8 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. From the 1980s, she started to travel all over the United Kingdom from Plymouth in the south to Inverness in the north, from Holyhead in the west to Norwich in the east, visiting many preserved railways and hauling mainline steam specials such as the Torbay Express. 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.

Streamline frame of 60009 on chassis for restoration at Crewe

After a repair in January 2007, it left the Severn Valley Railway and went to Crewe for fitment of on-train monitoring recorder (OTMR) equipment. 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.[2]


  1. ^ Brown, William (2010). Hush-Hush. Kestrel Railway Books. pp. 27,44. ISBN 978-1-905505-15-9. 
  2. ^ "LNER 60009 Union of South Africa The Mersey Moorlander 23 July 2012". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  • Clarke, David (2005). Locomotives in Detail: 3 Gresley 4-6-2- A4 Class. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-3085-5.  An overall history of the Gresley A4 class, as well as unparalleled details about the class and individual members.
  • Yeadon, W.B. (2001). Yeadon's Register of LNER Locomotives: Volume Two: Gresley A4 and W1 classes. Booklaw/Railbus is association with Challenger. ISBN 1-871608-15-5.  Histories of the A4 and W1 classes of locomotive with details of repairs and liveries etc.

External links[edit]