Beds, Herts & Bucks

Restored Wightwick Hall locomotive to run in Bucks

6989 Wightwick Hall Image copyright Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Image caption Wightwick Hall will have its first official running since it last steamed in 1964

A steam locomotive is due to run for the first time in more than half a century after a restoration which has taken over 40 years.

The 6989 Wightwick Hall was built in 1948 and last ran in 1964.

It arrived at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre in Quainton in 1978 and has been rebuilt by volunteers from the 6989 Restoration Group.

Project member Chris Taylor said its run on Sunday would be "pretty emotional".

Built in Swindon and named after Wightwick Hall, near Wolverhampton, it covered 640,645 miles over 16 years in a fast express and freight role, including taking supporters to Wembley on football specials.

Image copyright Buckinghamshire Railway Centre
Image caption 6989 arrived at Quainton in January 1978

After decommissioning, it was sold to a scrapyard in Barry in Glamorgan, where it sat for more than 13 years before the engine and a tender were bought for £13,000 by the Quainton Railway Society after a fundraising appeal.

'Stripped down'

Chris Taylor is one of two men who have worked on it for 44 years - he first started travelling to Wales at weekends in 1974.

He said that over the years about 40 people have been involved and the current core team of eight have been together about 20 years.

"It had to be stripped right down to the basic components and then slowly rebuilt," he said.

"It's been totally done by a group of volunteers who've raised every penny themselves and done it on weekends as a hobby."

Image copyright 6989 Restoration Group Collection
Image caption 6989 sat in a scrap yard in Barry for more than 13 years

The locomotive passed its steam test in December and on Sunday it will travel about half a mile along the track at the museum.

"I will be at the helm for part of it - it will be pretty emotional," Mr Taylor said.

He said she would "earn her keep" by going on hire to other heritage railway companies where she would do runs of about 10-12 miles.

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