Push Gathers Steam to Restore a Historic Loco
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New build steam locomotive, GWR ‘County’ No. 3840 ‘County of Montgomery’, could find a home at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway after an agreement was signed with the Churchward County Trust.
The agreement supersedes an earlier ‘agreement in principle’ and gives the railway first option to be be the home for the locomotive once completed.
This would see 3840 County of Montgomery based at the GWSR and become part of the lines operating fleet.
Richard Johnson, Chairman of GWSR Plc commented: “While we clearly don’t know what our railway’s locomotive requirements will be in ten or 15 years, which is when the new ‘County’ is likely to be available, I’m thrilled that we are being offered first choice for the engine’s future base.
“That we are the Trust’s railway of choice for this brand-new locomotive reflects the highly professional standards achieved by our steam locomotive department. This new-build project has captured the imagination of the heritage railway movement so this is a real honour. It will be a delightful addition to our fleet of locos, and a great attraction in its own right. It is something that we all look forward to, and are very grateful to the Trust for offering it to us.”
Credit: Rail Archive Stephenson
Great Western Railway introduced the County class thanks to CME G J Churchward in 1904, however, they lived short lives as they were withdrawn by 1933.
The locomotives were associated with the Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham route, of which, the GWSR operates 14 miles of heritage line over.
Gary Boyd-Hope, chairman of the Churchward County Trust said: “I’m both thrilled and grateful that we have been able to turn our previous ‘agreement in principle’ with the GWSR into something more formal. The line will – hopefully – make the perfect home for County of Montgomery, as not only is the route an historically appropriate one for the ‘County’ class, but the GWSR today remains a stronghold for beautifully restored and maintained Swindon-built locomotives. No. 3840 would therefore be in good company and safe hands.
Credit: Gary Boyd Hope
“This will be the 41st member of the class to be built. It’s being constructed at Tyseley Locomotive Works where the main frames are now being erected. Meanwhile, we have a standard Swindon No. 4 boiler of the type used by the class set aside at Didcot Railway Centre, courtesy of the Great Western Society, and we have recently placed the orders for the casting of new cylinders and coupled wheels. Real progress is being made, but of course there is a huge amount of work still to do.
“As with all such complex and costly projects timescales are difficult to predict, but if in time the GWSR takes up this ‘first option’ offer, I hope that we will be able to see County of Montgomery proudly steaming out of Toddington station with its first train in time to mark 100 years since the last of the original class was withdrawn, in 2033.”
This article first appeared on www.railadvent.co.uk
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