Planet No 101| 0-4-0 Diesel Mechanical

Planet No 101| 0-4-0 Diesel Mechanical

This small locomotive was the first diesel purchased by NCB No 6 Area. She and a sister loco were built by F.C. Hibberd & Co. at their Park Royal works in London under their trade name “Planet”, and were acquired for working the section of the Pelaw Main Railway from Starrs at Wrekenton, round to Springwell on Bowes Railway via the link to the Blackham’s Hill East Incline. She thus has a direct link with the section now preserved.

Planet SignNo 101 was delivered on 1st January 1960, and apart from short periods elsewhere for emergencies or repair, remained the regular engine on the Starrs – Springwell run for the next 14 years, her slow speed earning her the nickname “Wells Fargo”.

After closure of the line she was repaired at Springwell and then transferred between several collieries in the area, eventually ending up at the Philadelphia shed of the Lambton Railway in 1977. Finally becoming surplus to requirements No 101 was acquired for the Bowes Railway and returned to Springwell in 1979.

The loco was overhauled and painted in original livery and has seen steady work at Springwell ever since, being employed on works trains, yard shunting duties and from time to time taking the rope haulage set to Blackham’s Hill on operating duties.

Age is beginning to take its toll however and attention is needed to the gearbox for which spares are not easy to obtain, The loco is still in service but now confined to lighter duties, particularly following the arrival of a second diesel loco to help with shunting duties etc.