‘THORN­BURY’ IS GO

An up­date on No. 7027’s restora­tion

Steam Railway (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Iquite like prov­ing peo­ple wrong.”

If any­one thought that the steely re­solve of 34-year-old Jonathan Jones-Pratt would be quickly bro­ken by the bur­den of own­ing two GWR ‘namers’, they’d be very wrong.

It was Jon who qui­etly took own­er­ship of ‘Hall’ No. 4936 Kin­let Hall in 2016, then sur­prised the steam fra­ter­nity by ac­quir­ing the half-for­got­ten, un­re­stored 4-6-0 No. 7027 Thorn­bury Cas­tle from its pre­vi­ous guardian, Pete Water­man.

That was two years ago. Since then he has as­sessed the mul­ti­tude of parts that either came with the ‘Cas­tle’, or didn’t, to its tem­po­rary home at his se­cure bus garage in We­ston-su­per-Mare.

Now Jon is close to tak­ing the big step of launch­ing the restora­tion project, which was first ex­am­ined in de­tail by Steam Rail­way

18 months ago (SR463).

Stand­ing in its way is the com­ple­tion of the over­haul of ‘Kin­let’, which is in its fi­nal stages at Tyseley Lo­co­mo­tive Works. No. 7027 has now joined it, and silently waits in the wings.

The for­mer Old Oak Com­mon en­gine cuts a brighter shape in 2018 than the for­lorn car­cass that has resided at sev­eral preser­va­tion homes since its res­cue from Barry in 1972, thanks to a spon­ta­neous paint job car­ried out in We­ston ahead of its star­ring role at the Great Dorset Steam Fair, en route to Tyseley.

“I started wire-brush­ing and paint­ing it,” he re­marks, “and then I just went mad with it!”

Not con­tent with any old tin of paint, the glossy green that now coats ‘Thorn­bury’s’ bare boiler bar­rel is the real deal: 15 litres of Craft­mas­ter BR spec pas­sen­ger green paint, fin­ished off with black and red trim­ming. “I just want to do right by the en­gine.”

Just be­fore the Col­lett ma­chine was trans­ported from Som­er­set, it was adorned with its orig­i­nal smoke­box num­ber­plate and a pair of GWR lamps in ex­press train for­ma­tion – a sym­bol of the am­bi­tion that Jon fos­ters for his beloved Thorn­bury Cas­tle, even if that high­lights the amount of work needed to ful­fil it.

Fur­ther, he ac­cepts that as a pri­vately owned en­ter­prise he will be un­able to go cap in hand to the en­thu­si­ast com­mu­nity to raise funds, and there­fore will have to be self-suf­fi­cient, al­though Jon hopes that fu­ture hire earn­ings from

Kin­let Hall “will do well to look after her ‘sis­ter’,” be­fore the favour is even­tu­ally re­turned.

There has been some move­ment on his pre­vi­ous as­sess­ment of the time and com­plex­ity of the work nec­es­sary: es­sen­tially the boiler is in out­stand­ing con­di­tion, al­though it may re­quire a new cop­per tube­plate, and “it is miss­ing a lot of parts; far more than we thought”.

Nev­er­the­less, hopes of com­plet­ing the re­build in six years re­main an am­bi­tion which, if re­alised, would mean a late-BR con­di­tion sin­gle-chim­ney ‘Thorn­bury’ rolling out of the Birm­ing­ham work­shops in 2025. The project will be in the rep­utable hands of Alas­tair Mean­ley, who has been in­ti­mately in­volved in sev­eral other ‘Cas­tle’ as­sign­ments, and is ex­pected to have be­gun the strip-down by next sum­mer – around the time of its 70th an­niver­sary.

The Tyseley as­so­ci­a­tion runs deeper than a restora­tion con­tract be­cause

Jon in­tends to hand No. 7027 over to the newly es­tab­lished Vin­tage Trains

Train Oper­at­ing Com­pany to run it at 75mph on a se­ries of main line tours, work­ing in sym­phony with the in-house fleet of ‘4073s’.

“Alas­tair has told me that they want it to be an­other ‘Edgcumbe’.

And I trust him on that. As far as I’m con­cerned, he is the man when it comes to these things,” Jon en­thuses.

“It will be awe­some to see it do what it was built for.”

JAMES HAMIL­TON

Thorn­bury Cas­tle is dis­played in a scrap­yard scene at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. The in-depth in­ter­view with No. 7027’s owner Jon Jones-Pratt in SR463.

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