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The Common Pannier Rises to the Top!

3650. GWR Engine of the Year Award, 2012

Holding a ‘GWR Engine of the Year’ Poll  was a bit of a spur of the moment whim but it has been quite interesting, nonetheless, as well as fun to do.  I wouldn’t dare to suggest that it is representative in any real demographic sense.  It was  a bit random who appeared on the final shortlist but in the end, 112 people voted, with Didcot’s 3650 an overwhelming winner with 50% of the vote.  This is, of course, due to the vagaries of who happens to be in contact with me on Facebook and Twitter and who has mates whose support can be canvassed but it gives a flavour of what GWR fans have enjoyed the most in 2012.

3650 won, I suggest, because it is looked after by a particularly engaging team of friendly people, it has made friends wherever it has been this year, it looks great in the 1930s shirt button livery and, it must be admitted, because of a nice bit of self marketing on Facebook!  Becoming the saviour of the steam starved Severn Valley was a good move and then taking off onto Southern territory to the Bluebell has gone down well as well.

But what of the other candidates?  7903 Foremarke Hall came second, which is nice because it has worked well for 9 years as the GWSR’s flagship loco and is now into its last year before a major overhaul beckons.  It has been my privilege to have been able to fire Foremarke as a fireman trainee on many trips this year and she has been great.  I hope everyone will come up to Toddington to see her at work over the extended GWSR in 2013.

The People’s Favourite Prairie, 5542, has also really helped out the GWSR but has done so in perhaps a more low key manner than the Pannier. It has been a great engine, steams on a twig and is popular with crews. 1450  is also popular wherever it goes. Playing the role of 1401 in the Titfield Thunderbolt was a real high spot in 2012 but possibly we are so used to seeing her around that we take her for granted.  I hope not.

I had an early thought that The STM, Didcot’s Steam Rail Motor, might have won as it is an amazing success story. It really does complete the historical story of self propelled vehicles in fabulous fashion and to have persuaded NR to let it loose on the mainline was nothing short of astonishing!  I guess the answer to why it did not win could be that, in the end, it is still a self propelled carriage and people like locomotives that pull trains.

That leaves the two most prestigious locomotives: 6024 King Edward I and 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe.  I was lucky enough to be on KEI’s last trip to Kingswear in March and I will remember for a long time that blast through Taunton on ther way back with whistle wailing in the setting sun. A wonderful, wonderful loco and I cant wait to see the overhaul completed and this King back on the GWR mainline.

I am sure that it was the vagaries of the reach of social media that stopped 5043 being in serious contention for this award – I don’t yet seem to be in contact with too many of the folk from Tyseley.  5043 is, at present, the GWR mainline representative but, again, have we almost got too used to its blistering performances everywhere it goes.  They call her the class 7 that thinks its a class 8 and the Castle is utterly superb in all respects and a huge credit to the people who keep her mechanically healthy and looking spotless.

In this little poll, though, it was the unsung shunter of carriages and wagons, the ordinary industrial worker has come out on top and triumphed over the named aristocracy of Express locomotives!

Well done 3650!  I shall be in touch to present you with your award plaque in the New Year!

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