THE Aln Valley Railway (AVR) now has two operational steam locomotives for the first time.
Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST No. 3686 of 1948 entered public service on the line over the bank holiday weekend of May 5-7 during a Branch End 50 steam gala, marking 50 years since the closure of the NER Alnmouth to Alnwick branch in 1968.
The locomotive was delivered new to the Lambton locomotive shed at Philadelphia in County Durham in January 1949 after the creation of the National Coal Board.
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It was one of only a handful of new locomotives specially modified to work trains along the main line to Sunderland and through a tight tunnel to the River Wear for shipping.
The modifications included a distinctive rounded cab, which makes former Lambton locomotives instantly recognisable.
It last worked in 1976 at Dawdon Colliery south of Seaham, where it had arrived in July 1965.
The engine was then bought by Stephen Wood and operated on the Strathspey Railway, where he was a director, as No. 60, but after 20 years out of service it was moved to Ian Storey’s Hepscott works near Morpeth, in Northumberland, for a full overhaul.
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