Pendennis Castle locomotive 1924 -

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Pendennis Castle locomotive 1924

History locomotives

Pendennis Castle locomotive 1924

Few classes of British locomotive arc as well-known as the ‘Castles’. Designed by Charles Collett in 1923 as a development of Churchward’s ‘Star' class, they became the mainstay of the Great Western Railway passenger fleet for many years and continued to be so during the first decade or so of the British Railways era; in fact, the last of the 171-strong class was not turned out from Swindon Works until August 1950.

Pendennis Castle locomotive 1924

Pendennis Castle locomotive 1924
Introduced  1924
Builder  GWR Swindon
Designer  Collett
Weight (loco) 79  tons
Boiler pressure  225psi
Cylinders (4)  16  x  26 in
Valve gear  Inside Walschaerts
Driving wheel diameter  6 ft  8,5 in
Tractive effort  31,630lb

Power classification  7P
Withdrawn 1964

Preserved  GWC, Didcot

1924-built Pendennis Castle, the seventh to be built, is the most famous of them all, having excelled in the GWR/LNER locomotive exchanges of 1925 and enjoying an extraordinary life in preservation that saw it pair up with an old LNER adversary thousands of miles away in Australia! The 1925 exchange was arranged after sister loco No. 4073 Caerphilly Castle and the LNER’s Flying Scotsman had appeared together at the Empire exhibition at Wembley the previous year. A plaque next to the smaller engine rather cheekily proclaimed it to be Britain’s most powerful express passenger loco, a claim to which the LNER took exception.

A challenge was therefore thrown down and comparison tests conducted, but to the surprise of the East Coast company, the 4-6-0s won the day with better performance and lighter coal consumption - even on LNE metals, where 4079 got the better of A1 Pacific No. 2545. The valve travel of the Pacifics was later altered, making them superior, but the ‘David & Goliath’ fame of Pendennis Castle had by then been assured.

A source of pride to the GWR, it survived in largely-unaltered condition working top link expresses until withdrawal in May 1964, after which it was bought by enthusiast Mike Higson and restored at Swindon Works. Two years later, it was sold to John Gretton and Bill McAlpine, who based it at Didcot, then Market Overton, and finally Carnforth. While it was there, the shock news came through in 1977 that it had been sold to the Hamersley Iron Ore.

Company in western Australia, for use on excursion and promotional trains. It was duly shipped out to their base at Dampier and spent almost a quarter of a century ‘down under’, during which it was moved to Perth in 1988 to link up with Flying Scotsman on the A3 Pacific's pan-Australian tour. Eleven years later, however, Hamersley decided it could no longer give 4079 the loving care it deserved and asked The Railway Magazine to broker a confidential deal with the Great Western Society to purchase and repatriate it. This was duly done and the Swindon favourite left the outback and returned to British soil in July 2000. It is currently undergoing restoration to main line condition at the GWS’s Didcot base.
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