Why a Swalwell miner’s grandaughter decided to buy a vintage locomotive?
An article in Chronicle Live by Tony Henderson talks about Mary Mahabir, whose grandparents fed the Jarrow marchers, decided to buy an old steam locomotive from Tyneside in a ‘crazy moment’
But there was payback at the weekend as Mary was left feeling more than a little chuffed as her engine, nicknamed The Mog, returned to its North East roots for the first time in more than 40 years.
It was the star turn at the weekend steam gala staged by the Tanfield Railway near Sunniside in Gateshead.
It was also a homecoming of sorts for Mary, who lives in Maesycwmmer in South Wales, and travelled to see her locomotive in action.
“I have family history in the North East, which is a lovely area,” said Mary.
Her grandfather was a miner who moved from the region to work in the pits in Staffordshire.
“When the Jarrow marchers came though Staffordshire, my grandmother fed them,” said Mary, who watched The Mog go through its paces, not far from the spot in Swalwell where it worked at an opencast coal disposal site until 1974.
It had been built at the Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn works at Forth Banks in Newcastle in 1944 and also worked at the Ashington Coal Company and at Horton Grange opencast disposal point in Northumberland.
In 1974 it was saved from being scrapped when it was bought by steam enthusiast Norman Smith, who took it to the East Somerset heritage railway.
It later moved to another heritage railway in Yorkshire.
Mary is a volunteer at the Pontypool and Blaenavon railway near her home, and in 2009 there was talk of trying to acquire a locomotive which could pull more carriages to give visitors rides.
Mary said: “We heard there was a locomotive for sale in Yorkshire. I just decided to buy it.
“It was one of those crazy moments but it felt like it was the right thing to do.”
It took five months to restore and repaint the locomotive, which went into service in 2010.
“One day a man, Norman Smith, turned up at the railway on a motor bike and said that he had bought the locomotive from Tyneside,” said Mary.
“We found out that it was called the Mog and we have kept the name.
“From then I have always wanted to it to go back on a visit to the North East. I thought how good would it be if it could return to where it had worked for so long.
“When it was put on the lorry low loader in South Wales for the trip to the North East I felt quite proud.
“My father was an engineer and I have always been a bit of a nut about steam locomotives and traction engines.
“I see it working on our railway and sometimes I have a foot plate ride. But bringing it back to the North East has been quite emotional.”
Tags: Tanfield Railway, The Mog