9681 is our resident Pannier tank. Designed by the GWR, the 8750 tank was a derived version of the 5700 class locomotive. The main difference between the 5700 and 8750 is the cab, which has more modern and larger windows. 863 of this class of locomotive were built, they were the most prolific class of locomotive on the Great Western.
Built at Swindon in 1949, 9681 spent the majority of its BR service in Wales working at various locations including Tondu, Aberbeeg, Barry and Cardiff from where it was withdrawn in July 1965. It travelled under its own steam to Woodhams Bros. scrapyard in Barry where it languished for the next 10 years. 9681 was rescued from the breakers in October 1975 and transported to Norchard where in September 1984 it moved under its own steam.
9681 was withdrawn from service in August 2001 and dismantled for major overhaul – restoration progressed well on the frames and motion whilst the boiler was overhauled at the workshops at the Old Flour Mill, Bream near Lydney.
Heavily used on the DFR after it returned to service in 2005 the loco was withdrawn from service in November 2007 to have new tyres fitted and other essential work carried out. It returned to service in August 2008. In May 2009 the locomotive celebrated its 60th anniversary, being built in Swindon in 1949. The History of 9681 in BR and DFR days is to be found in a book available from Norchard Bookshop.
The engine was withdrawn from its last operational stint in October 2013. A comprehensive overhaul of 9681 has now started with the engine expected back in service in mid 2019.
9681 is propelled onto the low-loader by a Class 08 loco which fortunately for us was shunting the yard, the transport had arrived sans winch. (photo John Hatton)