Duchess of Sutherland returns to steam after overhaul at Derbyshire’s Midland Railway-Butterley

An 80-year-old locomotive which used to haul express trains between London and Scotland and took charge of the Royal Train twice has returned to steam at the Midland Railway-Butterley near Ripley.

Duchess of Sutherland is back in action after a major overhaul costing £150,000 which has kept it off the rails for nine months.

Fireman, John Lowe on the Duchess of Sutherland test run along the Midland Railway line.

Fireman, John Lowe on the Duchess of Sutherland test run along the Midland Railway line.

In its heyday, the Duchess worked express passenger services on the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Glasgow Central – in direct competition with famous locomotives such as ‘Flying Scotsman’ and ‘Mallard’ on the East Coast Main Line.

After being withdrawn from service in 1964 it was saved from being scrapped when it was purchased by Billy Butlin and displayed in one of his holiday camps.

It was eventually acquired by The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust and returned to steam in 2001 with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

The following year, Duchess of Sutherland had the honour of being the first steam locomotive to haul the Royal Train in 35 years when she hauled a train carrying HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as part of the Golden Jubilee tour of Britain.

In 2005, the Duchess again hauled the Royal Train on the famous Settle – Carlisle railway with HRH The Prince of Wales on board.

The ‘Duchess’ is based at the West Shed on the Swanwick Junction site of the Midland Railway-Butterley, near Ripley, but will often be out operating trips all over the country.

The locomotive was officially unveiled and on static display during the ‘Roll Out Day’ on September 9, after which she went through several days of test running at the Midland Railway.

The ‘Duchess’ will appear at several heritage railway galas and operate a number of main line trains up to Christmas.