First steam loco purchased by the NSRS has returned to the Churnet Valley line

THE first steam locomotive to be acquired by the North Staffordshire Railway Society more than 40 years ago has returned to its former home.
Ex-BR loco, no. 44422, had stood decaying in a South Wales scrapyard for 12 years, after being withdrawn from service in 1965, before a group of NSRS enthusiasts raised £4,860 for its purchase in 1977.
The class 4F, built in the early 1920s, which spent its working life on Somerset and Dorset lines, was despatched by road to Cheddleton station in April 1977, where it returned to steam in 1992 after undergoing extensive restoration work.
It went on to be loaned out to a number of heritage railways, before undergoing repairs at Crewe Works in 2009 and then transferred to Wansford on the Nene Valley Railway.
The loco was taken out of service in 2013 and moved to storage at Peak Rail at Rowsley, in Derbyshire, before hired out to the West Somerset Railway, with the aim of being returned to operation in time for the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Somerset & Dorset Railway in 2016.
After more extensive restoration work, at Crewe Heritage Centre, the loco made its debut steaming at the West Somerset Railway in February 2016.
In 2018 the loco underwent another overhaul at the West Somerset Railway, where it was on a 25-year contract, but this was terminated in January 2019 and a new owner sought.
Now the loco has returned to Cheddeton where the Churnet Valley Railway is planning to undertake an assessment of the work required to restore the locomotive to steam again.