Yorkshire-built Green Arrow steam loco heading for main line return

One of Yorkshire’s best-known steam engines could be brought back out of a second retirement to the delight of its many fans.

By Alexandra Wood
Thursday, 28th March 2019, 3:46 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th March 2019, 3:53 pm
16th September 1977: Bill Andrews (left) and Cliff Ellison tend Green Arrow.
16th September 1977: Bill Andrews (left) and Cliff Ellison tend Green Arrow.

Green Arrow is on display at the National Rail Museum’s Locomotion at Shildon, County Durham, after its final journey in 2008.

Following the release of its 15-year strategy, the museum says there is a chance of it returning to the main line – but it might not be until 2025.

Currently Flying Scotsman is the only main line operating steam locomotive in the NRM’s collection.

Green Arrow - one of only three steam locos which could "realistically" go back on the main line

Like Flying Scotsman, Green Arrow was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built by the London and North Eastern Railway Company at its Doncaster works in 1936, the first of 184 steam locomotives built to haul both passenger and freight trains.

She was part of the V2 series dubbed “the engines that won the war” because of their ability to haul up to 26 coaches during the Second World War.

Assistant director and head curator at the NRM in York, Andrew McLean said the “glamorous, fast and exciting” engine was sometimes confused with Flying Scotsman, as they have similar numbers and in the 1970s and 1980s bore the same apple green livery.

Mr McLean said: “There’s already been quite a bit of excitement about the possibility of it coming back. It has always been one of our more famous locomotives and very popular.”

He added: "We wouldn't consider main line operations until 2021 because the main focus is on developing the museum here.

"But the possibility does exist for the locomotive to come back into operation."

She was taken out of service in 1962 and earmarked for preservation as part of what would become the National Collection.

For 10 years, during which period steam was banned on the UK’s main line, Green Arrow stood idle and unseen at Doncaster, Hellifield, Leicester and Brighton.

It was rescued by the former Norwich shedmaster, Bill Harvey, and the Norfolk Railway Society, who restored the iconic machine to mainline operation.

In 1975, Green Arrow transferred to the new National Railway Museum in York and was in steam for the opening ceremony performed by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh on September 27, 1975.

A third steam locomotive, Oliver Cromwell, which retired last year, should come back into service even sooner.

Built at Crewe Works in 1951, it hauled the last steam powered passenger train on British Rail in 1968. Mr McLean said: “I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t come back into service sometime next year.”

Meanwhile Flying Scotsman is due to stay in operation until at least 2023, its 100th anniversary.