Furness Railway Number 20 will be coming to Didcot for our Easter 2023 steamings.
Furness Number 20 is the country’s oldest working standard gauge steam locomotive and we’re planning this to run alongside our own restored GWR locomotive, Trojan which is over 100 years old and the oldest working GWR loco. Together with our vintage coaches, we’re planning a Victorian styled weekend.
Constructed by Sharp, Stewart & Co to order 440, this 0-4-0 tender locomotive was one of a batch of eight locomotives constructed for the Furness Railway. It was completed in 1863 and is currently based at Shildon.
The rapid growth of traffic on the Furness Railway in the 1860s resulted in these small four wheeled engines soon becoming obsolescent. In 1870 the first six of the class, F.R no’s 17, 18, 19, 20, 25 and 26 were sold to the Barrow Haematite Steel Co at Barrow, who converted these into saddle tanks. It continued in traffic until 1960 when diesel locomotives were introduced. It completed over 90 years of work at the steel works, just short of its centenary.
Instead of being scrapped, the two remaining former F.R machines were presented to local schools. BHSC number 7 stood in the grounds of the George Hastwell Special School in Abbey Road, Barrow for over 20 years, until it was purchased privately in 1983 and moved to the Steamtown Railway Museum at Carnforth in Lancashire. Following a grant of £97,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and contributions from other groups, the Furness Railway Trust were able to begin the overhaul in earnest.
The stripped down frames and motion of F.R. No 20 were delivered to the Barrow-in-Furness workshops of Marconi Marine (V.S.E.L.) on 18th December 1996. After a total rebuild, including the construction of a new boiler and tender, the locomotive emerged two years later on 17th December 1998, resplendent in Furness Railway Indian Red livery.