The renowned 9Fs were the final steam design of British Railways, and a total of 251 of this most successful heavy-freight type were built. They were a fitting swan-song to the tradition of British steam-locomotive design, and the very last one built, now preserved by the National Railway Museum, was No.92220, fittingly named Evening Star. In the rush to abolish steam in the mid 1960s they were nearly all scrapped, decades before their originally planned withdrawal dates.
92240 was amongst the final steam locomotives constructed at BR Crewe Works, being completed on 4th October 1958 to order No. E497. It was built with a double chimney and blastpipe and was attached to a BR1G tender, which was the type preferred by the Western Region. Allocated from build to Newport (Ebbw Junction) (86A), the loco was transferred to Old Oak Common (81A) on 9th November 1958. After almost two years, 92240 was transferred to Southall (81C) on 10th September 1960.
It was withdrawn on 19th September 1965 and was sold within a few weeks from Gloucester (85B) to Woodham Brothers of Barry. Although 92240 was coupled to a BR1G tender for most of its service life, it was coupled to a high-sided BR1B/C type tender when sent for scrap. Woodhams' did not immediately scrap most of their locomotives and 92240 was among the lucky few to escape the cutter's torch.
Purchased from there in 1978, after some slick fund-raising by a group of members of the Bluebell's locomotive department (headed by the late George Nickson, Pete Reid and Peter Cox), its restoration was soon started. As part of this we broke new ground with the construction of a replacement body for the tender in our own workshops, using an underframe salvaged from the Duport steelworks at Briton Ferry. Ironically, these tenders had been sold to Duport from Woodhams' at Barry. As two BR1G tenders had been preserved, it was decided to replicate a BR1C type. Much of the fund-raising for the restoration was done by collecting bundles of newspaper for recycling, and in 1990 it became the very first of the ex-Barry scrapyard 9Fs to be restored to traffic. 92240 remains a fitting tribute to its project leaders.
Above right: May Day 2000, and No. 92240 is seen among the Bluebells in Lindfield Wood (Mike Esau)
A few years after its initial return to traffic a number of boiler stays were found to need replacement, and the opportunity was taken to re-certificate the boiler for a new ten-year period at that time. In spite of its size and power, it is an economical locomotive to run, and is much better suited to our 25mph speed limit than an express locomotive.
It has now been withdrawn from service (slightly before the end of its boiler certificate) due to the deteriorating condition of its tubes, with work also likely to be required on the firebox and front tubeplate.
See also Jon Bowers' December 2001 photo of this engine or his photo from December 1999,
or Jon Horrocks' Retrospective on the locomotive, with photos spanning its operational period.
Class: Standard Class 9
Class Introduced: 1954
Designer: R.A. Riddles
Built: 1958 at Crewe Works, BR
Purpose: Heavy mineral freight
Total number built: 251
Withdrawn from BR service: September 1965
Arrived on Bluebell Railway: 5 October 1978
Length: 66ft 2in overall
Weight: Engine 86 Tons 14 cwt,
Tender (BR1C) 53 Tons 5 cwt
Water capacity: 4,725 Gallons
Coal capacity: 9 Tons
Boiler Pressure: 250 lb/sq.in
Driving Wheels: 5ft diameter
Cylinders: (2, outside) 20" x 28"
Tractive Effort: 39,667 lbs
BR power classification: 9F
Last major overhaul: 1990
Withdrawn from service: November 2002
Above right: 92240 with the GN Saloon at Sheffield Park (Richard Salmon)