NGG16 no. 109

109 at the Exmoor Steam Centre in 1998

There is now a fifth NGG16 that has been acquired for use on the Welsh Highland Railway. This has been made available through the kind generosity of Media personality, rail enthusiast and entrepreneur Pete Waterman OBE through his Waterman Railway Heritage Trust. 

The Locomotive was one of the remaining NGG16s at the Exmoor Steam Centre, the same source as for no. 87, and it was intended that the locomotive would be rebuilt by the London & North Western Railway Company at Crewe. The rebuilding was the centre of an Apprenticeship scheme to train new engineers for the rail industry and in particular for the future preservation of the now very large UK steam locomotive fleet. 

No. 109 was built by Beyer Peacock in 1939, works number 6919, and like no. 87 it last worked on the SAR Umzinto-Donnybrook line in the 1980s. A brief insight into the history of the loco and how it came to be in the UK can be found in the Press Release regarding the purchase.... The Stirland family, owners of Exmoor Steam Centre, rescued the engine from South Africa and have commented: "The story of No.109 began on 7 February 1995. After lengthy discussions with the Curator of the Transnet Heritage Foundation of South African Railways, we were invited to meet him at the Springs Railway Depot approximately forty miles east of Johannesburg. Here there were four NG/G16s, an NG15 and one or two other locomotives being stored. They had been taken there for a preservation project which had then been abandoned, and they were now classed as redundant locomotives. We were offered No.109 and, as a special favour, some of the fitters from Germiston Depot agreed to move the locomotive on the May Bank Holiday. It was split into three parts and the components were lifted by a huge crane onto flat trucks. The loco was then transported over five hundred miles, firstly back to the Germiston Depot and then down to Durban Docks for shipment on to Tilbury. After arriving back in the UK, in mid-June 1995, it took several weeks for Customs & Excise to release it. We had to establish that it was a British product being reimported. Finally No.109 arrived at Exmoor on 3 July. No 109 was the first Beyer, Peacock-built NG/G16 to be sent to South Africa and the first to return home, it was also the first NG/G16 to be privately owned outside Africa, and its reimportation had nothing to do with the Robin Hoods Bay scheme. Although we have not been able to restore No.109 to working order, we have continually oiled its rods, etc., and frequently painted the plate work, in the hope that one day this magnificent locomotive would work again."

Following the initial Press release No. 109 eventually arrived at the London & North Western Railway Company's premises in Crewe on October 16th 2009. This was followed by the announcement on October 20th of the Apprenticeship Scheme that would restore No. 109 with Pete's intention to 'fast track' the loco through the restoration process. This indeed seemed to be the case as by May 2010 there were obvious signs that a great deal of progress had been achieved by the Apprentices. This was tempered, however, buy the fact that during the dismantling of one of the power units it was found that one of its cylinder castings had a crack in it. This looked to have been there for some time as there had been a crude attempt at a repair in South Africa. Whilst technology for repairing cracks in cast iron had improved quite considerably, the South African repair had compromised any future repair using these methodologies thus a  successful outcome was unlikely. It was therefore decided to have a new cylinder cast and to this end a pattern was made at the Ffestiniog Railway's Boston Lodge works.

Unfortunately the Apprenticeship scheme to restore the No 109 at Crewe was government funded and due to the the economic climate this funding soon dried up. The work therefore duly stopped. 

By January 2014 space at the Crewe works was becoming critical and so the request came in to see if the loco could be moved to Dinas for storage. This was agreed and so on the 16th January 2014 the majority of the loco and components arrived at Dinas as can be seen in the pictures below. Whilst the boiler unit and the power bogie that had received a good deal of attention can be seen here the remainder of the loco and components are stored elsewhere.

109 boiler and one power unit at Dinas, 18th Jan 2014 (Photo: L Armstrong)The driver wheelsets for the second power unit can also be seen in this view. (Photo: L Armstrong)109's boiler unit at Dinas, although with the smokebox bottom removed. (Photo: L Armstrong)

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Website authored by Ben Fisher; this page last updated May 20th, 2014 by Laurence Armstrong