‘KING’ RETURNS TO DIDCOT AFTER ‘DEVON BANKS’ TRIAL SUCCESS
King Edward II returned to Didcot Railway Centre in mid-October following successful trials of its new blastpipe arrangement at the Dartmouth Steam Railway.
The Great Western Society’s No. 6023 successfully hauled a 420-ton train, consisting of 11 coaches and a dead Class 25 diesel, over the Devon line’s gradients of up to 1-in-60. During the tests on September 29/30, the BR blue Collett 4-6-0 pulled away from a standing start at Greenway Halt – situated on a 1-in-100 grade at the mouth of Greenway Tunnel – without difficulty.
The ‘King’ has been at the Devon line since June, clocking up some 3,300 miles; it was originally due to operate mainly during the ‘shoulders’ of the season in September and for some special events, but ended up steaming on nearly 60 days and almost continuously throughout August, after resident No. 7827 Lydham Manor failed.
GWS Chairman Richard Croucher said: “We would like to thank the DSR for giving us the opportunity to work the ‘King’ to its full potential – we may not have been able to climb Hemerdon or Dainton this time, but Greenway bank was a good substitute.”
When will the locomotive be ready and able to tackle the South Devon banks for which it was designed? GWS spokesman Frank Dumbleton told Steam Railway that “we are looking to get through to the end of the 2020 summer season before the boiler certificate runs out,” and that “the locomotive is likely to be away from Didcot from the end of May to the end of August 2019, but we can’t say where yet.” However, main line running is not in prospect until after a further overhaul has been undertaken.
Mr Dumbleton confirmed “we are still intending to do a quick turnaround, subject to any problems that may be found” and “we want to go main line in the second ticket, to see how No. 6023’s new blastpipe compares with No. 6024 King Edward I’s double blastpipe.
“The blastpipe alterations have made No. 6023 a damn good locomotive – more than up to main line standard. The coal and water consumption is better than expected.”
with its 11-coach train and dead class 25 diesel no. d7535 snaking almost out of sight round the reverse curve, no. 6023 King Edward II coasts downhill past waterside caravan Park with the 3.10pm kingswear-Paignton train on september 29.