51218 0-4-0 Saddletank built by L&YR in 1901 as 68 of Class B7
CURRENT STATUS – cosmetically restored in 2018 and normally on display in Oxenhope Exhibition Shed at Worth Valley Railway although operational reasons may prevent this.
The Trust intended to restore 51218 to steam in a joint venture project with the Worth Valley following the completion of restoration of 752 in 2020. Initial stage would have been to commission a professional report on the condition of the boiler, but the project is now likely to be delayed by the financial impact of the Coronavirus lockdown on the Worth Valley.
Built in 1901 at the L&Y Horwich works, 51218 was acquired direct from British Railways in late 1964 and delivered from South Wales to the Worth Valley Railway to become the first locomotive there on January 7 1965. Seen here upon arrival on Pickfords low loader VXD 558.
The last overhaul had been at Horwich in 1963, when a boiler new in the 1950s was fitted, after which it was sent back to South Wales but did very little work. As a result, restoring 51218 to steam at Haworth did not require significant work and by May 1965 it was operating around Haworth Yard and later some works trains on the branch.
As larger engines arrived at the Worth Valley, the opportunity was taken to temporarily move across to Lancashire where 51218 operated railtours and was hired out to a factory. One railtour was unique in running with brake vans on the operational BR branch to Whitworth as can be seen here crossing the Healey Dell viaduct.
Upon return in 1970 51218 was stored until 1974 when a re-tube was put in hand for use in the 1975 Stockton and Darlington parade. 1976 saw the 75th anniversary in steam celebrated and then saw occasional use for some years, subsequently spending a number of years painted bright green as ‘Percy’ on static display in Oxenhope shed.
The mid-1990s saw the first major overhaul since 1963, taking place at Haworth and the East Lancashire Railway, with a return to steam in late 1997 as 51218 complete with replacement saddletank. For the next few years 51218 was well travelled around railways in the UK, with Centenary celebrations in 2001 at various locations, regularly working at enthusiast events on the Worth Valley as well as further temporary repainting into green to be ‘Percy’ in steam. One of the trips was to Goole on former L&YR lines seen here as local Pug 51222.
Repainted into L&Y livery with replica ‘68’ plates in 2004, the boiler tubes lasted well beyond the expected 5 years and were eventually condemned in early 2006, and the Pug will not run again until the boiler has had a 10 year overhaul. This will entail removing the saddletank and cladding, lifting the boiler, removing the blastpipe, ashpan, grate and boiler tubes, together with some mechanical work on the motion.
A cosmetic restoration to a high standard was carried out by the Worth Valley in 2018 for their 50th anniversary celebration as shown here. Following the completion of 752’s restoration, a project to restore 51218 to steam will start.