No. 656 was built by Frichs, Aarhus in 1949, following the Second World War, after the devastating attacks left the Danish railways in short supply for shunting locomotives. The post war ‘F’ class locomotives were built on the original drawings by Otto Busse, but with slight modifications, such as stronger buffers and bufferbeams, and a larger capacity coal bunker.
Of the 120 F class locomotives built, 13 remain in existence, the oldest originating from 1899, and 6 are operational, 656 being one of these 6 when the overhaul is complete.
During its life working for DSB (Danske Statsbaner – Danish State Railways) 656 would have carried out shunting, light goods trains and small passenger workings, and the remaining railway ferry duties that remained in place. 656 was withdrawn from service and placed into store at the Aarhus Depot.
In 1975, 656 was purchased from Aarhus and was transported to Peterborough. It was steamed for the first time on the railway in 1976, before entering regular service after the formal opening of the line in 1977 on the lighter off peak trains. As 656 is fitted with a bell, it was given the nickname of ‘Tinkerbell’.
656 carries the colour of the Danish flag (red and white) around its chimney. It has also starred in the TV series Secret Army, in which one sequence the locomotive and train were ‘shot up’ by a Mosquito aircraft.
656 was taken out of traffic in 1986 with a failed firebox, and spent the next 16 years in store in Wansford shed awaiting overhaul. In 2004, John Snasdell, the owner of 656, generously donated the locomotive to the railway.
Systematic dismantling of 656 began during the winter of 2003/04, and by 2005, the boiler had been removed and the extent of the work needed to repair it was established. The rest of the locomotive was then completely dismantled, and work to repair the rest of the loco was underway.
The current state of 656 is now that it has been classed as a ‘giant airfix kit’, virtually all components have been repaired, and the last work is now being carried out on repairing the wheels and axle boxes so that the frames can be re-wheeled, and then the rest of the loco can be re-assembled as much as possible ready for it to receive the repaired boiler. Once the boiler is completed and back on the frames, the last remaining jobs and steam tests can be carried out.
With the on going Covid pandemic fund raising for the completion of the overhaul has slowed down, if you would like to support the overhail of 656 please make a donation below, if you are able to use the Gift Aid facility please tick the Gift aid box