A new train in Shildon is set to bring in the big summer crowds as the National Railway Museum’s new locomotive-in-residence.
J72 class locomotive 69023 Joem (above) will be the museum's new operating engine, hauling passengers on the two-thirds-of-a-mile track between May and August 2010 in a collaborative venture between Locomotion: The National Railway Museum and the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group.
"We're delighted to have a locally built and locally restored steam engine running at the museum this summer," says George Muirhead, Museum Manager. "This is a great opportunity to celebrate the railway heritage of our region, and we hope that many people will come to see the engine and ride behind it on our steam train."
Built in Darlington in 1951, 69023 is the only surviving example of its class and was purchased by the NELPG in 1983 for use at heritage railways around the region before being taken out of service in 1996 and put in storage until 2005 for restoration.
On February 7 2010, the locomotive was moved under its own steam for the first time in 15 years and, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the skilled team of NELPG volunteers has finally restored this unique engine to its former glory – 59 years after it was first built.
"We are most grateful for this collaborative opportunity, and look forward to providing a real opportunity for the public and steam fans to experience the locomotive in active steam, as well as proving the locomotive's abilities during the summer," added Bryan Orange, Education Officer for the NELPG.
"This helps to assist the group's desire to work in close partnership with Heritage centres and to educate the public in this key area."