‘KING’ RE­TURNS TO DID­COT AF­TER ‘DEVON BANKS’ TRIAL SUC­CESS

Steam Railway (UK) - - NEWS FOCUS -

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.”

D.W.V. HUNT

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.

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