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8 Castles (not 6 A4s) for ‘GWR 180′?

The small GWR engine trounces the LNER's new pacific in the 1925 locomotive trials

The small GWR engine trounces the LNER’s new pacific in the 1925 locomotive trials

Our Facebook page has been glowing red-hot with ideas for a Great Western gathering to rival the limelight that 6 LNER A4s have been basking in lately.

Not that we have anything against A4s, you understand. We acknowledge the creativity of their designer, their iconic art deco looks. In fact we think they look pretty nice when painted in the proper livery for a locomotive viz: Brunswick Green with orange and black lining.

But, and, sorry, Gresley fans, it’s a big but, our GWR Castle class engines can not only compete with almost anything an LNER pacific can do, but they can do it as a 4-6-0. We do sympathise with LNER fans’ predicament. It was a thoroughly humiliating experience back in the locomotive exchanges of 1925 for their nice big shiny apple green pacific to be utterly eclipsed by little 4079 Pendennis Castle but there it is. The facts do not lie. A GWR 4-6-0 can do almost anything an A4 can do. In fact a certain GWR 4-4-0 managed a speed only 20 mph slower than Mallard and that was 30 years earlier. And, said engine also managed not to thrash its valve gear to pieces in the process….

But let’s not be churlish. It is nice for the North Eastern folk to have their fortnight of streamlined celebrations at York and the sight of those 6 A4s together will indeed be something to be savoured. We shall be there!

The thing is, ‘Pendennis’ is almost back in steam now, and so the opportunity does tempt us to want to throw down the gauntlet and inflict more damage on the LNER’s reputation (in an entirely friendly, kind-hearted way, of course). How might a double chimney Castle do against a double chimney A4 in a trial setting, for example, I wonder? I bet Tyseley fancies Edgcumbe’s chances against Bittern and, of course, 4079 might well relish another bit of sport against 4472 into the bargain (not much of a contest, that one….

Taking it further, what better way could there be to rub yet more salt in the apple green wounds than to field a line up no less than 8 Castles in one place and what better occasion than… GWR 180?

It would have to be at Didcot, the only place able to host such a fabulous locomotive panorama and there would be some other difficulties. Can 4073 be extricated from Swindon for such an event? Could 7027 be cosmetically restored to join the line up? All other members of the class, divided fairly equally into GWR and BR liveried examples are in decent shape. 5051 and 5080 are in display condition and by 2015, 4 should be in steam and mainline certified: 4079, 5029, 5043 and 7029.

It really is the most mouth watering idea. I just wonder: might it actually happen.

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One Response to “8 Castles (not 6 A4s) for ‘GWR 180′?”

  1. It would be a bit of a challenge to take on the much bigger Gresley locomotives now since after seeing Pendennis Castle, Gresley fixed most of the major errors in his design, notably the poor valve gear.

    Of course one should never forget the final arbiter – Collett’s locomotives played their part in the GWR making a profit in the 1930s, and Gresley’s their part in the LNER making a loss…

    Posted by JimC | November 6, 2013, 9:48 am

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