A May celebration of ‘One Last Hurrah’ with Castle 4079 & Hall 7903

Alex Farran
March 23, 2023

· Pendennis Castle 4079 to run alongside Foremarke Hall 7903 (‘dressed’ as 6999) · Remembering 9th May 1964 celebration of City of Truro’s 100mph run in 1904 · 2023 marks 100 years since the first ‘Castle’ Class took to the rails

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) is to celebrate 59 years to the day, since Pendennis Castle 4079 and Capel Dewi Hall 6999 had ‘one last hurrah’ on the 9th May 1964 with a celebration of City of Truro’s 1904 run where 3440 was reported to have hit 100mph heading down hill to Taunton. 4079 will be running alongside another member of the ‘Hall Family’ – the railway’s resident 7903 Foremarke Hall, ‘dressed’ as 6999, on Tuesday 9th May 2023.

Whilst the trains won’t be hitting 100mph, there will be lots of opportunities to relive the memories of this great day in Steam history, travelling freely along the 14-mile line. This is a fantastic opportunity to travel behind Pendennis Castle before she runs at the Cotswold Festival of Steam ‘Cheltenham & Gloucester Steam Days Remembered’ - 12-14th May 2023, alongside a number of other locomotives.

BR decided to run a special train from Paddington to Plymouth (via Berks and Hants) and back via Bristol. The run was to use four Castle locomotives and each one was carefully selected (there weren’t many left by 1964) to be in the best condition and it was hoped that 100mph would be attained on more than one occasion. The train was run in conjunction with the Ian Allan publishing group and 4079 was selected to run the Paddington to Plymouth section.

Decked out in finery headboard and Z48 reporting number, all was going well with 95mph attained. Unfortunately, at Westbury the engine was failed with a melted fire grate (the coal burned too hot). The only engine available at Westbury was a Hall exactly like the resident 7903, number 6999 Capel Dewi Hall. It ran like the wind and got the special train back on track. The other Castle did very well and one of them, 7029 Clun Castle, is preserved at Tyseley. 4079 having failed never worked for BR again and was withdrawn on the 14th May - The last day of the Cotswold Festival of Steam in 2023.

Pendennis Castle's’ claim to fame dates from 1925 when the GWR lent the locomotive to the London & North Eastern Railway for trials against Sir Nigel Gresley's mighty new Pacific’s exemplified by No.4472 ‘Flying Scotsman’. Working 16-coach trains on the East Coast main line from Kings Cross, the stalwart Castle covered itself in soot and glory, thoroughly out-performing its larger competitors. Her exploits were the talk of every school boy in Britain and the GWR rather cheekily sent ‘Pendennis Castle’ to stand alongside ‘Flying Scotsman’ at the 1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley with a notice proclaiming her to be the most powerful passenger express locomotive in Britain.

Bought privately the engine ran in the UK until 1977 when it’s then owner Sir Bill McAlpine sold it to an Australian iron ore company. Shipped to Australia it worked sporadically until the mid-1990’s.

This is where the second connection to The Flying Scotsman 4472 comes in. Flying Scotsman was shipped to Australia to celebrate the bicentennial in 1988. It ran 12,000 miles around Australia and met up with Pendennis Castle 4079 again. Pendennis was gifted back to the Great Western Society in 2000 and they shipped it back to begin an 18 year rebuild.

‘One Last Hurrah’ daytime event – Tuesday 9th May 2023

For further information and to book tickets for the daytime event, please visit: https://www.gwsr.com/events/one-last-hurrah – There is a 5% discount for all tickets bought online for the daytime event.

‘Prosecco Picnic’ evening event aboard our Pendennis Special – Tuesday 9th May 2023

Arrive at Toddington Station around 6pm, for a 6.30pm departure and enjoy a glass of Prosecco or a soft drink on the platform, listening to some classic 1960’s sounds. Board our special train hauled by Pendennis Castle 4079 where you will ‘speed’ (well at 25mph!) through the beautiful Cotswolds Countryside to Cheltenham. Your steward will serve you drinks from the cash bar at your table. On arrival at Cheltenham Race Course, whilst 4079 ‘runs around’ you will be served your luxury picnic meal to enjoy as you travel back towards Broadway. At Broadway again the loco will run around and you will return to Toddington at approximately 9.15pm to leave our evening service, and travel home. As this moment in Steam History, happened in the height of the ‘Swinging Sixties’, there will be a prize for the best dressed couple/group in 1960’s dress (optional).

For further information and to book tickets for the ‘Prosecco Picnic’ evening event, please visit: https://www.gwsr.com/events/dining-train-pendennis

4079 Pendennis Castle at rest at Paddington station prior to departure, 9th May 1964 (Picture: Photographer unknown, courtesy of Paul Chancellor of the Colour-Raillibrary).