LNER J21 No. 65033

Built by the North Eastern Railway in 1889 as one of 201 locomotives of the same class, designed by T.W Worsdell (later to be rebuilt by his brother, Wilson), No. 65033 is now the only survivor.

 

That it exists at all is remarkable, given that it was first withdrawn from service in 1939 and only reinstated due to the desperate shortage of motive power brought about by the Second World War.

 

During its working life No. 65033 is believed to have worked exclusively in the North East, although other members of the class were much more widely travelled, particularly during wartime.

 

Originally built as a ‘Compound’ (meaning it used its steam twice) as NER No. 876, the 0-6-0 was converted to ‘Simple’ format early in the 20th Century. It was absorbed by the newly-formed London & North Eastern Railway in 1923, becoming No. 5033, and gained its present number on the railways’ nationalisation in 1948.

 

Finally withdrawn in 1962, more than 20 years after it was first put aside, No. 65033 was by now a celebrity enthusiasts’ engine. Its importance meant it was initially reserved for the National Collection.

 

However, the ‘J21’ was dropped from the list (because it was no longer in as-built condition), and only saved due to the foresight and courage of Frank Atkinson, the first director of Beamish. The engine subsequently became a jewel in the open-air museum’s crown, being ridden on by Sir John Betjeman at the opening of the ‘Rowley’ station scene in 1976. Despite this, the locomotive has not steamed since 1984.

 

In order to ensure a sustainable future for this unique asset, Beamish transferred the ‘J21’ to the newly-formed LCLT in March 2009. Following its 2011 appearance at the ‘Stainmore 150’ event at Kirkby Stephen East station, home of the Stainmore Railway Company, the locomotive was stored at Locomotion, the National Railway Museum’s Shildon site.

 

Since 2014 the Trust has been in full partnership with the Stainmore Railway Company as the two organisations developed a project that would see the J21 return to Kirkby Stephen East station to be the star attraction on the expanding railway there. Having worked over the Stainmore lines, the beauty of this project was that the locomotive would be coming home back to where it belonged.

 

In June 2019 the J21 left Shildon for full restoration at the works of Locomotive Maintenance Services Ltd in Loughborough. The Trust is now in the process of restoring it to full working order in 2022 at Kirkby Stephen East station in time for its 133rd birthday.

 

J21 at Beamish (Photo Credit: Allan Black)

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