Once again the organisers of the Cotswold Festival of Steam are putting on a show to remember whether you're an enthusiast looking for unusual opportunites to see locomotives off their home 'patch' or whether you're family looking for a day packed with interest.
This year's theme is ''Workhorses of Steam' and it's a celebration of the locomotives that didn't necessarily hit the headlines - they were the freight and 'mixed traffic' engines that kept the nation's economy going. They shifted minerals, freight, parcels, produce, milk up and down the country. They shunted in yards, sorting out wagons for destinations far and wide. They deliverd parcels and the mail and yes, they handled passenger trains too.
Britain boasted thousands of steam locomotives of hundreds of different designs and the railway is expecting to run eight during the three day event: its home fleet bolstered by at least three visitors from other heritage railways.
As this summary written, one visitor has so far been confirmed, representing perhaps the best known and most successful of the mixed-traffic types: a Stanier 'Black Five' no. 45305, courtesy of the Great Central Railway and the 5305 Locomotive Association.
Locomotives in order of age:
Churchward 2800 class 2-8-0 no. 2807, built 1905 (Resident)
GW heavyweight freight locomotive no. 2807 trots along the straight at Far Stanley on 27 December 2016 (Jack Boskett)
GW 2-8-0T no. 4270 heads away from Laverton on 12 May 2015 (Malcolm Ranieri)
|LMS 'Black 5' no 45305 will be visiting the railway for the first time. It's seen here at Old Arley, on the Birmingham-Nuneaton line in 2010 (Jack Boskett)|
Merchant Navy pacific 35006 Peninsular & Oriental SN Co at Toddington (Ian Crowder)
BR(W) Modified Hall no. 7903 foremarke Hall on Stanway Viaduct, October 2013 (Dan Wigg)
|BR (W) Manor 4-6-0 no. 7820 Dinmore Manor heads away from Winchcombe round Chicken curve with a demonstration freight, 16 October 2014 (Jack Boskett)|
This is the oldest Great Western Railway locomotive in working order, having been built in 1905: No. 2807 was a fine example of G J Churchward's engineering design excellence: the design was the first 2-8-0 class to enter service in the UK and for many decades was the most powerful freight locomotive design in Britain. So successful were they that many of the class survived to the end of steam on the Western Region of British Railways in the 1960s. This fine 'heavyweight champion' re-entered service in 2010 and has been a regular and popular performer on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire railway since. It was restored mainly at Toddington - in fact, it was the first steam locomotive to arrive at the embryonic Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway in 1982.
Churchward 4200 class 2-8-0T no. 4270, built 1919 (Resident)
This locomotive which spent its entire working life in South Wales handling mineral traffic. Essentially, it is a tank locomotive version of the 2800 class and in fact, was the only 2-8-0 tank locomotives to run in the UK. The majority were used to handle coal and other mineral traffic, primarily in South Wales, where high power was needed to convey mineral traffic over relatively short distances and over often steeply-graded routes. It is a pleasingly attractive engine that returned to steam for the first time since wethdrawal from Britsish Railways in 1962 just in time for the 2014 Cotswold Festival of Steam. The locomotive has been subject to an extremely comprehensive restoration both at Toddington and off-site.
Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 no. 45305 (Visitor courtesy the Great Central Railway and the 5305 Locomotive Association)
William Stanier pursued a career with the Great Western Railway at Swindon works, following in the footsteps of his father. He rose through various roles including the drawing office under G J Churchward, eventually becoming works manager. He was then 'head hunted' by the LMS to become Chief Mechanical Engineer, in 1932. He took with him considerable Swindon knowledge and set about modernising the LMS's locomotive fleet. One of his most successful designs was the Class 5 (or 'Black Five' as they are universally known). Many Swindon features will be recognised in this and other Stanier classes, not least the tapered boiler. Introduced in 1934, over 800 'Black Five's' were constructed until 1950, of which just 18 remain. 45305 was built in 1936 and survived to within a month of the end of steam on British Railways in 1968. Famously, it was sold to Drapers' scrapyard but Albert Draper decided to save it for posterity. Since restoration it has racked up thousands of miles both on heritage railways and the main line. It now resides at the Loughborough base of the Great Central Railway.
Bulleid Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 no. 35006 Peninsular & Oriental SN Co (Resident)
The powerful Merchant Navy class are particularly associated with the heaviest express passenger services on the Southern Railway's routes from Waterloo to Bournemouth and to the West Country. Despite this, the class of 30 locomotives were ostensibly mixed traffic designs introduced by O V S Bulleid to a highly unconventional design, the first appearing from Eastleigh works in June 1941 looking quite unlike any other British steam locomotive, with an 'air-smoothed' boiler casing and incorporating many new features not least of which, was chain-driven valve gear for the middle of the three cylinders enclosed in an oilbath - intended to reduce routine maintenance. Although the engines were extremely capable, the design was let down by some of the innovative features. As a result, the entire class were rebuilt to conventional appearance during the late 1950s, as 35006 is now presented. In fact, 35006 was 'modified' in October 1959, the last to be so treated. 35006 was withdrawn from service in August 1964 having spent its entire working life allocated to Salisbury shed, working the heavy West of England expresses. It was the second locomotive to arrive at Toddington, from the scrapyard at Barry, South Wales, in 1983. It moved for the first time in preservation on 10 August 2015 and is a hugely popular locomotive on the railway now.
Modified Hall class 4-6-0 no. 7903 Foremarke Hall (Resident)
The Great Western Railway's standard mixed traffic loicomotives were the numberous Hall class 4-6-0s introduced in 1924 by C B Collett as a development of Churchward's 'Saint' class and have many similaritiwes . The Hall's were extremely successful, economical and versatile - as at home with fast freight as they were with express passenger trains. When F W Hawksworth became chief mechanical engineer at Swindon in 1941, he set about making a number of design changes to the Hall class, the result being the 'Modified Hall' which was introduced in 1944. Production contiunued until 1950 after the nationalisation of the railways. Foremarke Hall was completed in 1949. Restored to working order in 2004, this popular locomotive has proved to be an extremely reliable performer.
Collett Manor class 4-6-0 7820 Dinmore Manor, built 1950 (Resident)
The Manor class is a smaller version of the earlier 'Grange' class designed by C B Collett and introduced in 1938. The Second World War interrupted production of the class, which resumed in 1950 after the Great Western Railway had been nationalised to become the Western Region of British Railways. With a ligher axle loading the 30 members of the class were very much at home handling freight as well as passenger trains and were particularly associated with secondary main lines such as the Cambrian route to the west coast of Wales. Indeed, the class famously handled the 'Cambrian Coast Express' which started from Paddington usually behind a 'Castle' class locomotive, the 'Manor' taking over from Shrewsbury. No. 7820 was the first post-war member of the class.