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92203 Black Prince

article by: Ian Crowder
9F class 2-10-0 no. 92203 Black Prince, one of the last steam locomotives built for British Railways and one of the last to be built at Swindon.  It is pictured here complete with the David Shepherd wildlife Foundation headboard, the charity founded by its owner and which will be represented at GWR175.  There will be opportunities to visit the footplate of this engine (Photograph: Ian Crowder)
9F class 2-10-0 no. 92203 Black Prince, one of the last steam locomotives built for British Railways and one of the last to be built at Swindon. It is pictured here complete with the David Shepherd wildlife Foundation headboard, the charity founded by its owner and which will be represented at GWR175. There will be opportunities to visit the footplate of this engine (Photograph: Ian Crowder)   Click to view larger version

1959: BR 9F class no. 92203 Black Prince, built at Swindon
Owned by artist and wildlife conservationist David Shepherd, resident at Toddington

One of the most popular locomotives on the Honeybourne Line, Black Prince, is a standard class 9F 2-10-0, one of the last of 251 to be built at Crewe and Swindon for heavy freight traffic. 9Fs were widely distributed throughout the UK including the Western Region. 92203 was delivered in 1959 to Bristol and worked passenger trains over the hilly Somerset & Dorset Railway, before moving north to Birkenhead, where it was employed handling iron ore trains from Bidston docks to Shotton steelworks - just the sort of work it was designed for. But despite being intended for freight, 9Fs found themselves in charge of passenger trains on occasions, proving themselves capable of speeds of up to 90mph. Most infamously, the last of the class, Evening Star, worked the prestigious 'Red Dragon' express between Cardiff and Paddington on a number of occasions, comfortably maintaining the express timings.  

The BR Modernisation Plan meant that the class had a lamentably short life, 92203 working for little more than eight years before being bought by artist and wildlife conservationist David Shepherd (who will be visiting the railway during GWR175). Following purchase, the engine was delivered under its own steam to the embryonic Longmoor Military Railway preservation centre (now closed) in 1968 and named Black Prince, in due course moving to Eastleigh, and then the East Somerset Railway, before taking up residence at Toddington.  You can read a profile of the 9F class with several pictures of them working over the Honeybourne Line here.

2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the last of the class and the last steam locomotive built for British Railways: no. 92220 Evening Star, which is now on display at STEAM, Swindon.