City of Truro locomomive 1903 -

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City of Truro locomomive 1903

History locomotives

City of Truro locomomive 1903

The rivalry between Great Western Railway supporters and those of other railway companies in never stronger than when the name of this locomotive is raised. For, in 1904, the Truro, 4-4-0 was the subject of the greatest 'did it or didn't it' mystery in British railway history when it allegedly became the first steam locomotive to exceed  100mph.

City of Truro locomomive 1903

City of Truro locomomive 1903
Introduced  1903
Builder  GWR Swindon
Designer  Churchward
Weight (loco)  55 tons
Boiler pressure  200psi
Cylinders (2)  18 x 26 in
Valve gear  Stephenson

Driving wheel diameter  6 ft 8,5 in

Tractive effort  17,800 lb
Other number 3717
Withdravn  1931

Preserved  National Collection

That feat was reputed to have occurred while the engine was hauling the Ocean Mils from Plymouth to London Paddington on May 9 that year. It was rocorded at a speed of 102,3 mph by experienced train-timer and Railway Magazine correspondent Charles Rous-Marten, and GWR aficionados ever since have sworn that the timing was accurate-but supporters of other railways point out that the timing was unsubstantiated. For it to have been accepted officially, the train would have had to have had two independent timers on board or been equipped with some form of mechanical recording device (as was Flying Scotsman's in 1934). Notwithstanding that, there is little doubt that something around a ton was almost certainly achieved. City of Truro, a member of the 20-strong City, or 3700 class, was a new engine at the time of its reputed speed record, having been built at Swindon Works the previous year.

In 1912, it was renumbered 3717 and, upon withdrawal from regular service in 1931, was acquired for exhibition in the LNER's railway museum at York (not to be confused with today's National Railway Museum). In 1957, British Railways restored it to working order and reinstated it not only for enthusiast railtours but for hauling genuine timetabled passenger duties, usually on secondary services in the Berkshire and Hampshire area. For this, it was renumbered 3717 and shedded at Didcot. It was withdrawn for the last time in 1961 and returned to static exhibit status, but has since been returned to working order twice, once in the 1980s to take part in the GWR 150th anniversary celebrations and once in 2004 to mark the centenary celebrations.
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