£124,000 grant secured to see Darlington-built steam locomotive 69023 Joem return in time for 2025

The North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group has announced that it has been awarded a grant worth £124,000 to repair the boiler at 69023 ‘Joem’.

The grant, from the Cultural Assets Fund, will allow the Darlington-built locomotive to run in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 2025.

Joem’s return to steam has been thrown into doubt with the coronavirus pandemic, but the price will ensure the locomotive will be enjoyed by future generations in museums and heritage railways across the country.

Boiler 69023 overturned at the NSEL on January 11, 2021 // Credit: Dave Pennock (NELPG Collection)

Joem last smoked in 2017 and was retired due to poor boiler condition.

The NELPG is based at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway with Q6 63395 in service on the line, 65894, which is currently at the Great Central Railway for their gala, and 62005 undergoing overhaul at Carnforth, but can normally be seen in Scotland carrying the Jacobite tours on the main line.

Colin Foxton, Chairman of NELPG, said: “The awarding of the Heritage Grant is an important milestone in funding the restoration of our Victorian-designed J72 ‘Joem’ locomotive. The Group’s volunteers can now embark on its construction with confidence, knowing that we have the funds in place to bring the locomotive back to life. We look forward to operating the locomotive in museums and heritage railways from 2025 for the public to enjoy and experience the sounds, smells and journeys of the age of steam.”

69023 at Locomotion Shildon on June 18, 2010
69023 at Locomotion Shildon on June 18, 2010 // Credit: Chris Lawson (NELPG Collection)

Dr Simon Thurley CBE, Chairman of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said: “This steam locomotive is a perfect example of the rich steam and railway heritage of the North East and we at the National Heritage Memorial Fund are pleased to to award this grant from the Cultural Property Fund. .

“With this funding, the locomotive will be protected from the risks it faced during the pandemic and will see the locomotive operating again in 2025, allowing it to participate in the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton and Darlington railway. “.

Heritage Minister Lord Kamall said: “This Darlington-built steam locomotive is an important part of the North East’s industrial history and our country’s railway heritage.

“Through this funding for the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group, Joem’s tank engine will be preserved for generations to come.”

For more information on the NELPG, please see their website at nelpg.org.uk

Jose P. Rogers