THE Buckinghamshire Railway Centre received an early Christmas present when WR 4-6-0 No. 6989 Wightwick Hall became the 150th locomotive rescued from Barry scrapyard to be returned to steam.
The fruits of a restoration project which has taken nearly 41 years of hard graft by volunteers, saw No. 6989 pass its formal in-frames steam test, before heading down the Quainton Road running line in glorious sunshine on its first movement under its own power since 1964.
The movement paved the way for an official public launch on Sunday, March 3, to welcome No. 6989 into the centre’s fleet.
Wightwick Hall was completed at Swindon Works on March 25, 1948 and entered service the same month at Hereford shed, replacing one of the Saints that was withdrawn, and spent 10 years there.
No. 6989 was the second last steam locomotive to be ordered by the GWR before BR took over. It was named after Wightwick Hall, which is located near Wolverhampton.
No. 6989 was outshopped in GWR lined green livery with the number on the front buffer beam and British Railways in capitalised GWR-style letters on the tender. It was repainted black at a heavy general overhaul in October 1950 and returned to green at the intermediate repair in September 1956.
The locomotive covered 640,645 miles in 16 years of service, and spent its entire working life in the Welsh border country, spending four years allocated to Worcester and its final two at Gloucester (Horton Road).
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