Over 100-year-old steam locomotive returns to Doncaster


Great Northern Railway ‘Atlantic’ locomotive No. 251 built at Doncaster Plant

The first of two locomotives built in Doncaster over 100 years ago has returned to the town, thanks to an arrangement between the National Railway Museum and Doncaster Council.

The Great Northern Railway ‘Atlantic’ locomotive No. 251 built at Doncaster Plant in 1902, is the first exhibit to be formally announced for the town’s Danum Gallery, Library and Museum.

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Retiring in 1947, the locomotive ran for 45 years, and returned to steam in preservation once in 1953 to celebrate the centenary of the Doncaster Plant Works.

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The steam locomotive will now take centre stage at the new rail heritage centre, alongside an array of memorabilia from the Doncaster Grammar School Railway Collection.

No. 251 arrives at Doncaster Plant
Workers transferring No. 251 in Doncaster

Displayed on purpose-built rail tracks, visitors will be able to view through a virtual tour of the building which will go live in March prior to the building being opened for the public to get up close with exhibits later in the year. All opening plans are subject to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The locomotives will remain part of the national collection and will be loaned to the museum as static exhibits for an initial three-year period.

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About No. 251 locomotive

No. 251 locomotive
  • Built in Doncaster in 1902 for the Great Northern Railway, No. 251 was the first of 94 locomotives which were altered versions of the original C1 class of locomotive.
  • The new design was an immediate success, and further improvements to the model over the next few years meant that this class of locomotive was able to pull very heavy passenger trains at considerable speed well, into the 1920s and 1930s.
  • No. 251 was withdrawn from service in 1947, and it is the only one of its class to survive.

Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “Danum Gallery, Library and Museum is going to be a wonderful community asset where local people and visitors to Doncaster can learn and explore a stunning selection of exhibits that celebrate our past, present and future.

“This locomotive is the first of many gems we will be revealing through a virtual tour in March, with the building opening its doors for people to explore later in the year, subject to the COVID-19 pandemic of course.”

Cllr Nigel Ball, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure and Culture, said: “It’s a real honour to welcome the first of two Doncaster-built locomotives into our superb new Danum Gallery, Library and Museum. Doncaster is, and always will be, a rail town so it is fitting that we have two locomotives built at our famous plant works as the showcase attractions in what will be an incredibly enlightening rail heritage centre.

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“We are delighted the National Railway Museum has supported us and I can’t wait to see these two classic locomotives on display. Packed with many never been seen before rail exhibits, the rail heritage centre, like the whole building, is going to be a real treat for residents and visitors. As a past worker at The Plant in the early 80’s I am really excited about this and what this means for Doncaster.”

Andrew McLean, Assistant Director and Head Curator at the National Railway Museum, said: “We are thrilled to be working alongside Doncaster Council to share the stories of these fascinating locomotives. Although iconic in their own merits, for them to return to where they were built is truly special.”

More information is available at: www.doncaster.gov.uk/newlibraryandmuseum

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