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The GWR Community wants ‘Truro’ back in steam!

3717 City of Truro, 3440, GWR

What future for City of Truro?

A fortnight ago, the NRM announced that it was not intending to overhaul world-famous GWR 4-4-0 No 3440 City of Truro and we published its statement here.  We wondered, though, whether our community agreed with this decision so we devised a short survey to test this.

The outcome was that we received 76 responses to the survey, with more comments aired on our Facebook page.  34% want City of Truro to steam again within 5 years but 24% want it overhauled immediately.  A small majority favoured ‘being a bit gentle with the old lady’ and restricting her to heritage railways over operating on the mainline. Only 3% agree with the NRM’s current position that it should not be steamed at all.  Perhaps more significantly, 41% of respondents say they are prepared to contribute to Truro’s overhaul.

The NRM are understandably and rightly protective of the old girl but several people believed that “careful and professional restoration of Truro would not compromise it as an historical artefact”, comparing the situation with the overhaul of 4472, which is so extensive as to make it ‘almost a new machine’.  Presumably, this work is being done in a way that does not compromise the integrity of 4472 so why would a further overhaul for 3440 do so?

I invited comments and have selected a number of them:  Several people were concerned for future generations and whether they would be able to show their children and grandchildren the engine that was once “the fastest thing made by man”.  Some thought “it would be a sin never to see City of Truro run again, especially for younger generations”.  It has  not only enormous iconic but also great financial value to the heritage railway movement as the one “real” loco to appear in the Thomas series, which makes it a massive draw wherever it goes.  We wonder what the income side of the balance sheet for the engine is?

Restoration might not be over expensive and could be done at one of our heritage railways that had established credentials for its care.  Running on heritage railways would be less wearing ‘and more respectful’ to Truro’s age than another mainline ticket although it was also argued that “Truro should be back where it belongs, as an ambassador for the NRM on our heritage railways and on the mainline”.

In light of the NRM’s recent position statement, which I personally view as very much a ‘holding’ statement, I asked which other GWR locos in the national collection should be restored to steam and, interestingly, Dean Goods No 2516 headed the poll with 38% of the vote, followed by Lode Star with 32%.  There is significantly less support for a return to steam for 6000 King George V, presumably in light of the emergence of 6023 with 6024’s fully funded overhaul under way.

Unsurprisingly, almost nobody thought that 4073 should steam again but Evening Star was mentioned as a worthy candidate.    Several people would “love to see a Dean Goods in action” and a few also favoured the idea of “3 Kings” while admitting that “it’s not the top priority!”  One person said that, “We have had a good run with Truro, now is the time to rest the old lady and turn our efforts to the Dean Goods”. I suggest that restoration of 2516 would be very attractive to enthusiasts and be very popular indeed, regardless of what Truro’s future might be.

An alternative view to current NRM policy on restorations is that “we need more of the earlier and more unusual and influential designs running on the mainline and/or heritage railways”. It was also argued that uniqueness should be a factor in whether a loco should be restored to steam, citing the Dean Goods, Lode Star and the Q1 as condidates.

One person felt that STEAM at Swindon might be expanded to accommodate more GWR locos and might develop workshop facilities and the ability to have live steam exhibits on a more regular basis. On the other hand, it was noted that there is currently no GWR railway presence in Bristol, in many respects the home of the GWR.  Could some GWR artefacts from the national collection and elsewhere form the nucleus of a centre there?

The question is, where do we go with this?  and the obvious answer is: the NRM.  I find all their staff very helpful and amenable to discussion and debate and I hope to be able to travel up to meet them and find out in lot more about their approach to preserving the GWR locomotives in their care.  Watch this space!

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4 Responses to “The GWR Community wants ‘Truro’ back in steam!”

  1. I hope one day she does steam again. My dream is to see her and a new buid Dean Single (hopefully through Didcot) thundering down the mainline together what a sight that would be. Give the old girl a couple of years off and focus on the Deans Good.

    Posted by Brookes Castle | March 1, 2013, 2:50 pm
  2. If you want physical support at a meeting with the NRM at anytime would try to be available.

    Could try a crowd source funding option for the overhal, may take a few months, it would be a first for preservation I believe and avoid the usual HLF funding.

    Posted by Ben | March 1, 2013, 3:48 pm

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