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A Swindon design for the 21st century?

News that the 77021 Locomotive group is intending to build a brand new Standard Class 3 77xxx 2-6-0 is interesting. OK, these engines do not have the beauty of a GWR thoroughbred and they might not be every GWR fan’s cup of tea – not a lot of copper work and no safety valve bonnet – but the boilers were modified versions of the standard Swindon No 2 boiler as fitted to 51xx and 56xx classes so in my book that makes them of GWR parentage. And the years have been kind to them – BR Standards look chunky, workmanlike, they look good in BR lined black and they go well.

It is also worth considering how useful this engine would be to the future of steam railways. All our GWR locos are ageing and this will be a new loco with a number of updated components and building methods such as welding replacing rivetting. If the group don’t mind being radical, it would be almost like having a new design for the GWR and, lets face it, radicalism in Swindon design got a bit stuck around 1906!

A Standard 3 is an ideal size for heritage railways as its axle loading will enable it to go anywhere and it shares the same boiler as the other Swindon Standard new build: 82045. In fact I am tempted to suggest that the group should set its sights on building 2 or 3 of these. they are going to be very useful.

And, of course, there seems to be a growing need for Swindon No 2 boilers. Somebody should start building them in batches!

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