Acquired early in 2006 from the Exmoor Steam Railway, 87 is the fourth South African Railways Class NGG16 2-6-2+2-6-2T Beyer Garratt locomotive to be acquired for the WHR(C). In contrast to 1958-built numbers 138, 143 and 140, number 87 comes from the very first batch of NGG16s (developed from the NGG13), built by John Cockerill of Seraing, Belgium in 1936.
87 spent its working life in South Africa. Following the arrival of the Class 91 diesels in 1973 on the Avontuur line, the Class NGG16s there were transferred to Natal. At the time of closure in 1986, locomotives No. 87, 109, 113 and 153 were on shed at Ixopo. 109 later found its way to Exmoor, where it stayed until its purchase by Pete Waterman (for further details, see 109), while 113 and 153 were sold to the Midmir Historical Village in Natal, where they remained until 1998 when both locomotives passed into the ownership of the Sandstone Heritage Trust. Both 113 and 153 are now operational on the Sandstone Steam Railroad.
87 was imported to the UK from South Africa for the abortive Robin Hood's Bay scheme in North Yorkshire, from which the WHR(C) previously acquired NG15s 133 and 134. The purchase of the Robin Hood's Bay NGG16s was not pursued at the time owing to their condition. However, a donation was made to the Festiniog Railway Trust by a private sponsor for this specific project to cover the costs of purchase and overhaul.
The addition of this locomotive will help make sure there is an adequate fleet in place ready for opening of the complete WHR(C) in 2009, giving four working locos of this type to form the core WHR(C) fleet. The overhaul will be done at Boston Lodge, largely using paid staff and the project is being managed by Steve Macullum. In April 2007 the boiler was taken off the carrier frame and brought into the works for inspection and repairs.
This image from Ben Fisher's Official WHR(C) Project Website shows 87 at Exmoor in September 2005, during one of a number of inspection visits. The gentlemen concerned are (left-right) Tony Williams (FR/WHR Loco Inspector), Steve McCallum, & Jon Whalley (FR/WHR Chief Mechanical Engineer). Steve will project manage the rebuild of this loco, as well as looking after the FR/WHR coal firing conversion project.
Number 87 arrived at Minffordd Yard on the morning of 4 February 2006, with the boiler unit being transferred to Boston Lodge the same day.
Sources: Press Release/Official WHR Project Website by Ben Fisher
87 was outshopped in 'light aircraft' grey in January 2009, entering WHR service the following March. In January 2010 it returned to Boston Lodge for a repaint into its final livery: GER lined blue.
Subsequently it was painted "Midnight Blue"[video 1]
No 87 ran over 14,000 miles during 2010, being the mainstay of the WHR service. During its winter overhaul thieves broke into the shed at Dinas and stole various non-ferrous parts. This delayed 87's introduction back into service in 2011, and also that of no 143, as parts had to be re-made at Boston Lodge.