NER Class P3
A Class J27 locomotive at the coaling stage outside South Blyth shed
The North Eastern Railway (NER) Class P3, classified J27 by the LNER, is a class of 0-6-0 steam locomotive. The P3 Class was designed by Wilson Worsdell and was a relatively minor modification of the existing North Eastern Railway NER Class P2 (LNER Class J26). The most significant change was a deeper firebox with shallower sloping fire grate. This was achieved by raising the boiler slightly, and by reducing the clearance between the firebox and the rear axle. The P3 Class were a freight engine by nature and used for hauling long trains of freight.
Initially eighty J27s were built between 1906 and 1909 in five batches, distributed amongst the NER's Darlington Works, North British Locomotive Company, Beyer, Peacock and Company, and Robert Stephenson and Company. Twelve years later, a batch of twenty five J27s were built at Darlington with Schmidt superheaters and piston valves. These were delivered in 1921-2 and were followed by a final order of ten placed in December 1922 and built by the LNER at Darlington Works in 1923. The superheated J27s could be identified by their extended smokeboxes.
After World War II, the J27s stopped hauling goods trains but they continued to haul heavy mineral trains. Withdrawals began in March 1959, but in June 1966 thirty six were still putting in hard work hauling coal in County Durham and South Northumberland. The final J27s were withdrawn from the Blyth area where they operated the short trip workings between the nearby coalfield and shipping staithes. The last J27 was withdrawn in September 1967.
Accidents and incidents
- On 4 November 1959, Locomotive No. 65847 had difficulty stopping a freight train, coming to rest foul of the line at West Sleekburn, Northumberland. Locomotive No. 65824 was hauling a freight train which was in a head-on collision. Both of its crew were killed.
- On 8 June 1960, locomotive No. 65892 was in a side-long collision with a National Coal Board locomotive at Hilton, County Durham. Both locomotives were derailed.
One, BR 65894 has survived to preservation and was purchased directly from BR by the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group on 1 December 1966. There then followed restoration to full working order, initially at Tyne Dock where the locomotive was stored after withdrawal, then professionally at the then still functioning National Coal Board workshops at Philadelphia, Tyne and Wear, and then at Thornaby Depot. Final restoration, including the fitting of vacuum brake and steam heating apparatus for working passenger trains, was by the group’s volunteers at ICI Billingham.
The locomotive, fully restored as NER class P3 No. 2392, was delivered to the embryonic North Yorkshire Moors Railway in October 1971. The locomotive provided the mainstay of services in the period leading up to full re-opening of the line, when it piloted Lambton Collieries Tank No. 29 on the Royal Re-opening Special of 1 May 1973. Following its appearance as an exhibit at the Stockton and Darlington 150 celebrations and cavalcade, it was withdrawn for boiler repairs. From 1977 until early 1982 it was on display in the National Railway Museum at York. After a further overhaul, 2392 returned to traffic on the N.Y.M.R. in the autumn of 1984. The engine has seen use on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway the Llangollen Railway, and the North Norfolk Railway.
It is owned by the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group and was on display at Darlington Railway Centre and Museum awaiting a future overhaul and return to steam. It is now in NELPG's Hopetown (Darlington) works and is waiting for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. The North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group has launched an appeal to raise funds for its next overhaul and it is hoped that it can be returned to service in the near future.
- Hoole, Ken (1983). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 4. Truro: Atlantic Books. p. 11. ISBN 0-906899-07-9.
- Hoole, Ken (1982). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 3. Redruth: Atlantic Books. p. 43. ISBN 0-906899-05-2.
- LNER Encyclopedia J27 website article
- The North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group website's J27 page
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