Darfield no. 1

Text adapted from Steam at Llangollen no. 48 (Winter 1988/89); original text by Ben Jackson Last updated 2nd January 2009 by  John Rutter - email webmaster

Darfield No. 1 was completed by the Hunslet Engine Co. Ltd. of Leeds in October 1953 for the North Eastern Division of the National Coal Board. Locomotives of this type had been built since 1923, and production continued until 1958. The design remained largely unchanged apart from a few detail differences. The locomotives were mainly for colliery service, while a few went to ironstone quarries, steelworks, and five were exported to South America and Australia.

Darfield No. 1 was works no. 3783, and was delivered to Darfield Main Colliery, Wombwell (near Barnsley). It was kept occupied, along with Darfield No. 2, shunting 16-ton coal trucks around the colliery. No. 1 spent all its working life at Darfield Main, apart from a short spell in 1959 at Houghton Main Colliery nearby. The mine was dieselised in 1970 and the two steam locomotives became surplus to requirements, although No. 1 was resurrected briefly in 1971 to cover for diesel failure. It remained in the engine shed until 1974, when the NCB declared them redundant and offered them for sale by tender.

A boiler examination by interested preservationists revealed that No. 1 had a reasonable boiler, apart from needing a re-tube; No. 2 had presumably taken the main share of the work at the colliery and was in poor condition. Otherwise, No. 1 was in generally neglected state: some fittings were missing and the apple green, red, yellow and black livery was very shabby. An attempt to enter the engine shed without opening the doors first had left the bunker in an unusual shape.

Darfield No. 1 was purchased for preservation and moved to Delph Station near Oldham where it joined the unique Hunslet 14" six-coupled saddle tank Brookes No. 1; Darfield No. 2 met its inevitable end. However, there were no facilities for restoration work at Delph, and Darfield No. 1 was thus moved to Embsay Station on the Yorkshire Dales Railway (now Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway) in December 1975.

Restoration work took five years, including a new bunker, boiler repairs, and the fitting of vacuum brakes and steam heating. Its return to service came in early 1981, although a slight hitch came when the valve gear jammed in 'forward' during the first steaming! After rectification Darfield No. 1 entered service operating between Embsay Junction and Holywell Halt.

By the end of 1983, all was no longer well between the frames, and the loco was withdrawn for overhaul. All the motion was dismantled and found to be badly worn. The boiler cladding was removed for examination, revealing the dreaded blue asbestos, which had to be stripped. The motion was overhauled and reassembled for a return to service the following year, and it ran with little trouble until the end of 1987. During that time, the engine starred in an episode of the Yorkshire TV series "In Loving Memory", pretending to demolish a hearse which had stalled on a level crossing.

In 1988 it was decided to move Darfield No. 1 to the Llangollen Railway, the first time the loco had moved out of Yorkshire. However, the boiler tubes were condemned on arrival, and therefore the loco was completely dismantled for inspection of all of the motion at the same time. The boiler was refitted in June 1990 and the locomotive re-entered service that year.

A number of years of service followed, including a starring role in the TV programme "Peter Sharratt Set Loose" along with 7822 Foxcote Manor. By 1994 it was seeing less use in favour of larger engines, and it was hired to the Avon Valley Railway for the 1994 season; it returned the following year but was soon found to require extensive boiler repairs. Darfield bowed out of traffic on freight duties in 1995 painted in a vivid shade of green to represent her use in industry, complete with wasp stripes front and back!

A move to the East Lancashire Railway followed and the loco remained stored at Buckley Wells until 2000. By this time, Llangollen engineering works had gained the expertise necessary to carry out the heavy boiler repair work so Darfield returned and was placed in the queue for repairs in the workshop, with work guaranteed as a hire loco to loan to other lines.

Restoration started in 2001. Boiler repairs included new crown stays, new blower and injector internal pipework and most importantly, the replacement of the badly wasted outer firebox above the foundation ring. The “bottom end” received attention in the form of new coupling rod bearings, new reverser shaft bearings, new axlebox mops and the re whitemetalling and machining of eccentrics and big ends. At the same time new rear running plates were fitted and wasted steel angle and plate on the bunker and rear bufferbeam was replaced. The cab and bunker floor comprising heavy duty ¾” thick plate was also replaced as the original had rotted through! Improvements to the lubrication system included the fitting of a 12 feed Wakefield mechanical lubricator.  

After all work was complete, Darfield was tested and sent out as part of the growing Llangollen loco hire “fleet”, going to the Dartmoor Railway at Okehampton. For two years Darfield, as the sole steam loco ran push-pull trains along the 3 miles of 1 in 70 grade line between Dartmoor and Meldon, with occasional journeys farther afield to Sampford Courtney, a further 4 miles towards Crediton on the freight only branch used by Network Rail ballast trains.

Upon return in 2008, intermediate repairs were undertaken to rectify two years of hard work, wear and tear, and then Darfield again was sent out on hire again, returning to Darfield’s “home county” of Yorkshire, and back to the Yorkshire Dales Railway now called The Embsay and Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. Darfield has been welcomed back to the line where she was first restored, and is again shed mates with sister locos under restoration “Beatrice” and “Primrose”.

Principal Dimensions

Wheel arrangement


Nominal tractive effort

17020 lbs at 85% boiler pressure

Maximum train weight

795 tons

Weight in working order

38 tons 5 cwt

Wheel diameter



Two 16" dia x 22" stroke

Boiler pressure

160 psi

Valve gear


Water capacity

910 gallons

Coal capacity

35 cwt


New to Darfield Main Colliery  -               October 1953

Houghton Main Colliery  -                         1959

Darfield Main Colliery  -                            1959

Stored     -                                                 1970

Reinstated    -                                            1971

Stored     -                                                 1971

Withdrawn   -                                            1974

Delph Station   -                                        1975

Yorkshire Dales Railway  December  -       1975

Llangollen Railway   -                                July 1988

Avon Valley Railway (Hire) -                     1994

East Lancashire Railway (Stored) -            January 1996

Llangollen Railway  -                                 November 2000

Dartmoor Railway (Hire)  -                       May 2006

Llangollen Railway   -                                May 2008

Yorkshire Dales Railway (Hire) -               July 2008


Above: Darfield no. 1 at Llangollen Goods Junction ca. 1995 with a freight. (Ben Jackson)

Darfield No1 in service at Llangollen shortly after re-entering service in 1990

Picture - John Rutter

Darfield No1 stored out of service on River Siding in 2001.

Picture - John Rutter