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4115, 5227, 2861 – did they die so that others may live?

'A Night Owl' at Work in the 1950s

Last month I mused on the seemingly final fate of the above GWR locos that seem to have all but disappeared now that their parts have been taken for a variety of new-build projects such as the 47xx 2-8-0.  This month in Steam Railway magazine, my fellow GWR website colleague Peter Pascoe has joined the debate about whether in fact all these new-build projects take so long in the gestation that we would all be better off restoring fairly useful engines such, as, yes, 4115, 5227 and 2861.

I know from footplate experience that, for example, a 28xx is a very useful loco on our railway (the GWSR). Our 28xx, No 2807, only needs to do 20-25 mph, which is close to its top speed anyway, it pulls 6-8 carriages with ease and is very comfy at work on our type of line. A 52xx seems similarly useful for the requirements of heritage railway use and big prairies have exactly the right amount of power doing what they were built for.

I suppose, gulp, that it is possible that I may be dead before anyone drops the fiery oiled rag into its firebox for the first time, but it is reasonable to ask whether we should be spending time and scarce money on a new 47xx. I suppose the compelling reason is that the heritage movement gets its energy by new ideas and creativity and Swindon inclined folk will undoubtedly flock to see 4709 (if any of them are still around then!).

The downside is that Didcot has several engines that are unlikely to receive the full overhaul they need to steam again for a very long time and the question is: does building 4709 make it more or less likely that engines out of ticket will steam again or will the 47 attract money of itself that would not have come in otherwise?  That bits of 5051 are being borrowed for 4079 seems reasonable-ish but I do wonder if Earl Bathurst, along with 6998, 7808, 5900, 5572, 6697 are doomed to be museum exhibits for the foreseeable future when, for surely not a huge outlay, some of them could be overhauled and loaned out to provide income for Didcot.

Or else it may be simply that we are all getting acutely aware of how old we now are, that time is running out and that our lives are very, very finite.  Ho hum.

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One Response to “4115, 5227, 2861 – did they die so that others may live?”

  1. By the sounds of it Didcot are more interested in filling in the gaps in thier collection rather then restoring to working order all thier locomotives.

    If you have read my blog you would knew i am a huge fan of the GWR Dean Single Achilles class locomotive if they wanted to build something why not buy the “Queen” replica for a few thousand quid and steam that would certianly be more popular to the general steam fan than as non GWR fans call just another 4-6-0

    Posted by Simon | March 14, 2012, 4:09 pm

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