Gamma was built as 75256 by W G Bagnall of Stafford and was ex-works on 26th June 1945, with works number 2779. A plate on her firebox backplate shows her boiler was tested by the LMS Railway in May 1945. She was one of 52 such locos built by Bagnalls and went straight into store on site. In December 1945 she was moved to the Longmoor Military Railway at Liss, Hampshire for further storage and in April 1946 was loaned to Strakers and Love Ltd. They kept her at Brandon C Colliery shed, near Meadowfield, just outside Durham City. Here she was used on traffic from Brandon C Colliery and also worked on the ferocious 1 in 18/19 grades of the twisting 2 mile branch up to Brandon Pit House Colliery. She was taken over by the NCB on Vesting Day in January 1947.
The maximum load for Austerities here was 9 empty 21T wagons up to Brandon Pit House and the loco would often be on its knees at the end of the climb. The return trips down the bank were made with a maximum load of 270 tons and runaways were not uncommon. When the two Collieries were merged in 1960, she was due to move to the new shed at Brandon Pit House Colliery with her sisters, but had disappeared for a time in 1960, allegedly for a new inner firebox . She certainly returned to Brandon C Colliery by January 1961 and was at Brandon Pit House shed by March 1961. Here she was one of four locos fitted with radio telephones and acquired the same name as her call sign, GAMMA. She also carried the number WD No.1 at some time and was in Army green livery.
Shortly before the shed closed, she was moved to Vane Tempest Colliery at Seaham, on the Durham coast, in 12/1967. Here she was later spare engine to the diesels and was selected to be the NCB′s representative in the Stockton and Darlington Railway 150th Anniversary at Shildon in August 1975. Repainted in blue with dazzle stripes on her buffer beams, she now carried her plant number 2502/7 on her cab sides. The journey to Shildon on her own wheels was a saga of hot axleboxes, but she was repaired and took part in the Cavalcade under her own steam.
She returned to Vane Tempest as spare engine, where she was bought and moved to Marley Hill in April 1982. In 1992 she was painted black and assumed the identity of Bowes Railway sister 20, Hunslet 3688 of 1949 as well as local BR sisters 68029, which was loaned to the Bowes Railway from Tyne Dock shed in 1962 and 68054 for a short period. In July 1992, painted as No. 20 TANFIELD, for advertising purposes whilst she was on loan, she took up residence on the Bo′ness and Kinneil Railway in Scotland, returning in August 1993.Today, GAMMA can be found stored at the back of the 5-road shed
Photo: GAMMA at Marley Hill before restoration.
26 December 2017