'It's something you have to see in person' - Star locomotive makes comeback at heritage railway
PUBLISHED: 14:14 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 11:01 31 August 2019
Archant Norfolk 2015
For years, it has been the star attraction at one of Norfolk's most cherished heritage railways and now the Black Prince is set to ride the rails once again.
Following months of being sidelined after the discovery of some minor damage, the British Rail standard 9F will be making its long-awaited comeback during North Norfolk Railway's (NNR) autumn steam gala this weekend.
The no. 92203 locomotive was bought by the NNR from wildlife artist David Shepherd in 2016 and had been a mainstay of the line's services in years previously.
Mark Powley, volunteer promoter for the group Friends of Black Prince, said it would be a welcomed return.
"To anyone who has not seen the Black Prince before, it's the most beautiful large locomotive ever built and it's breathtaking. It's something you have to see in person to get the full scale of everything.
"It's adored by everyone and, because the engine has such a big history, it comes with a big following of all ages."
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Back in March of this year, the NNR's flagship locomotive was temporarily withdrawn from traffic for firebox repairs.
Minor fissures were discovered in its outer wrapper and during the past six months the railway's staff and volunteers have been carrying out the repairs at the engineering boilershop in Weybourne - between its Holt and Sheringham stations.
Work included fixing cracks on the rear outer firebox shoulders, welding new sections to replace defective sections which had to be cut out, and other works including fitting a new cylinder cover.
As well as being part of the gala, which runs until Sunday, September 1, completion of the work also means that no. 92203 is in line to return to normal service duties during the rest of the year.
Sixty years ago, the Black Prince was delivered to British Railways from Swindon as part of works order 429, costing £33,497. It then entered service at St. Philip's Marsh shed in Bristol. It was later given its apt title after being preserved by Mr Shepherd, who acquired it from British Rail in 1967 for £3,000. Finally in 2015, it was acquired by NNR.
- Friends of Black Prince was set up by railway volunteers to promote and fundraise for the locomotive, and was shortlisted in the Heritage Railway Association's annual awards earlier this year.