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This Sunday, 3rd March 2019, Great Western Railway No.6989 'Wightwick Hall' will be offically re-launching at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre.
'Wightwick Hall' is currently Buckinghamshire Railway Centre's largest operating locomotive. On her launch day GWR 9466 will be operating along side her.
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is also hoping to operate their miniature railway and open their muesum and visitors centre. The miniature railway will be weather dependent.
The Buckinghamshire Railway Centre is also celebrating 50 years of the centre.
A brif history about 'Wightwick Hall':
In 1944, F W Hawksworth of the GWR introduced an improved version of the popular Hall class 4-6-0s of his predecessor, C B Collett. The locomotives were termed Modified Hall and incorporated 'one piece' mainframes (the originals were made in two sections joined together behind the cylinders), plate frame bogie and larger superheaters. At the same time new-type flush-sided tenders were paired with the engines, although these soon became swopped round as visits to the works for repair took place. The Hall class itself was a development of the 1907 Saint class of G J Churchward, so the original design was now on its third wind.
British Railways continued building the Modified Halls after the 1948 nationalisation, and No. 6989 Wightwick Hall was completed in March of that year at a cost of £9,686. On delivery, 6989 was sent to Hereford and remained there until transfer to Gloucester in September 1962. June 1964 saw the loco withdrawn from service, and sold the following month to Woodham Brothers for scrap. Total recorded mileage was 640,645 on 28 December 1963, six months before withdrawal.
In 1977, 6989 was purchased by the QRS and 10th January 1978 saw the locomotive delivered to Quainton. It has been paired with an older Collett pattern tender, as it ran with one of these for most of its life.
After nearly 2 decades at Quainton, the boiler was reunited with the frames on 20th October 1996. The engine's tender chassis arrived back from the Flour Mill, Forest of Dean, in November 2004. On the 2nd September 2008 the tender and loco were reunited in the old King shed in the Up Yard when the 6989 Group took over this covered storage space. The water scoop column was refitted, though it is unlikely ever to be used again.
Having had the boiler in the frames for a number of years, allowing the fitting of the various parts, the boiler was removed and placed on a concrete pad outside the shed in May 2010. Since then around 900 of the stays have been drilled out and replaced. On 11th August 2014 the boiler of Wightwick Hall had a fire light, and the relief valves lifted, for the first time in around 50 years. The boiler was then returned to the frames, with the refurbished ashpan installed.
Wightwick Hall gained a Transport Trust Highly Commended Award in 2011.
On the 28th February 2018 the tender from sister locomotive No. 6984 Owsden Hall, based at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway, was delivered to Quainton. On the 8th March 2018, this was coupled to No. 6989 Wightwick HallOwsden Hall's tender is a 4000 gallon Collett pattern tender, No. 2771. Wightwick Hall completed her insurance steam test on the 11th December 2018, becoming the 150th engine to have restored to operational condition after being rescued from Dai Woodham's famous Barry Scrap Yard.