The Sherwood Forester

A member of the iconic London Midland & Scottish Railway's Black 5 Class, The Sherwood Forester is a shining example of the workhorses of Britain's railways from the 1930s all the way to the end of steam.

  • Icons Of Steam
32 Years
60 Miles
Per Hour
72 Tons of
81 Years
of age

One in 800

The LMS Black 5

The Sherwood Forester was originally known only as No. 5231, the number given to her by the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company (LMS) when she was built in 1936. She spent the early years of her life based in Manchester, working both passenger and freight trains to North Wales.

The 'Black Fives' were built by the LMS as mixed traffic engines, hence their designation 5MT. Over 800 were built, making them one of the most numerous classes of steam locomotive ever built, being deployed across the network as far south as London to the farthest reaches of the Scottish Highlands.

Towards the end

British Railways

In 1948, following the nationalisation of the ‘Big Four’ into the newly created British Railways, The Sherwood Forester was renumbered as No. 45231. Throughout the 1950’s and early 1960’s she was moved between a number of depots across the North West and Midlands, eventually settling in Chester.

Just five members of the 842 strong ‘Black Five' class received names during their working lives. Happily, in 1976 No. 45231 received what was to be her first name, becoming ‘3rd (Volunteer) Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment’. Just a year later she was withdrawn for her first overhaul.

Early Preservation

When Chester depot closed in 1967 she was moved to Carnforth where she was to remain until the end of BR steam, becoming one of just a handful of locomotives to continue in service until the very end of steam in August 1968.

It took over 10 years to complete the overhaul of No. 45231. She returned to steam in 1988 and a year later moved to the Nene Valley Railway where she was to remain until the 1990s. In 1993 she starred in the Richard Attenborough film ‘Shadowlands’, filmed at the Great Central Railway.

Recent times

Return to the mainline

No. 45231 was purchased by the Great Central Railway in the mid 1990s and renamed as The Sherwood Forester. She changed hands again in 2003, being purchased by the former professional cyclist Bert Hitchen who had long been involved in preserving steam locomotives.

The Sherwood Forester returned to the main line in 2005 and thanks to the hard work of Bert and a dedicated support crew she went on to work numerous railtours across the country before undergoing another overhaul that was completed just under two years ago. In 2015 Bert Hitchen sadly passed away. In the time since we have become owners and custodians of this wonderful locomotive, and are proud to be carrying on his work to operate No.45231.

Photography courtesy Bob Green.