About No. 6024 King Edward I
Background History to the GWR ‘King’ Class Locomotives
The Great Western Railway (GWR) ‘King’ class locomotives were that railway’s final design of express passenger train 4 cylinder locomotive. Their history can be traced directly back to the work of George Jackson Churchward, the GWR’s Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) from 1902 to 1921. His very successful and revolutionary designs set the style for future GWR locomotives, work carried on by his successor Charles Benjamin Collett, CME from 1922 to 1941.
Churchward had produced two types of 4 cylinder locomotives, the highly successful 4-6-0 ‘Star’ class and the one-off 4-6-2 No. 111 The Great Bear, in essence, a very much bigger version of a ‘Star’. Whilst a success in its own right The Great Bear was not duplicated. The ‘Stars’, in contrast, were improved upon and enlarged by Collett with the introduction of his ‘Castle’ class 4-6-0 type in 1923. Such was the success of this design the last was not built until 1950.
As successful as the ‘Castles’ were the heavy traffic to the West Country and the Midlands required a more powerful locomotive able to haul heavier trains without assistance from a second locomotive. This need led to the development of the ‘King’ class which can be seen as the pinnacle of the Churchward 4 cylinder 4-6-0 format.
The first ‘King’ – No. 6000 King George V – emerged from Swindon works in 1927 becoming the most powerful locomotive in the UK at that time. In total 30 Kings were built over two batches. No. 6024 King Edward I came in the second batch constructed in 1930.
No. 6024 King Edward I’s History
25 July 1929
Extract from the Minutes of the Meeting of the GWR Locomotive Committee: “Referring to Board minute No. 7 of the 27th November 1925, it was agreed to recommend the construction of …….. rolling-stock (100 locomotives) on renewals account, at an estimated cost of £901,460, to replace condemned stock (100 locomotives) ……… 10 No. 4-6-0 ‘King’ Class, estimated cost £75,000 to be built”. Described as Lot 267, twenty ‘Halls’, thirty 51XXs, ten 2-8-0Ts and thirty “Auto engines of new type” were also ordered.
30 June 1930
The construction of No. 6024 was completed at Swindon Works. It was fitted with standard No 12 boiler No. 4687 and attached to a new 4,000 gallon tender No. 2552, at a total cost of £7,175 including tender. Three days later the unique and iconic set of photographs of seven ‘Kings outside the Works was taken.
No. 6024 at Swindon when new, 2 July 1930. Courtesy Getty Images.
5 July 1930
No. 6024 was “set to work” for the first time, and taken to Plymouth Laira depot.
12 January 1932
With 96,532 miles on the clock, No. 6024 was “stopped” for 45 days for its first heavy intermediate overhaul at Swindon Works. Remaining united with its original tender, No. 6024 continued working until it returned to Swindon Works on 7 April 1933 for light factory work and a tender change. In January 1934, No. 6024 was allocated to Newton Abbot shed.
No. 6024 on a West of England express in the 1930s. © Maurice Earley
9 November 1934
Now with 237,871 miles under its belt No. 6024 returned to Swindon Works for its first heavy general overhaul, including a boiler change. In four years and four months since July 1930, No. 6024 was available for 1,400 days for operating, and averaged 1,189 miles per week (almost 62,000 per annum.). Further heavy general overhauls were carried out in 1938 and 1944 with the locomotive again “stopped” on 16 July 1947 for its last overhaul under GWR ownership, when No. 6024 had completed 864,212 miles. During a light repair in 1945 the outside cylinders were renewed with 16” diameter types. In December 1948 it was re-allocated to Plymouth Laira depot.
August – September 1950
No. 6024 completed one million miles in GW and British Railways (BR) service. On 8 June 1953, with its mileage at 1,144,028 it returned to Swindon Works for a Heavy General overhaul and emerged from the Works on 11 September 1953 fitted with its first high-superheat boiler and “self-cleaning” smoke-box arrangements. All ‘Kings’ were so treated, to cope with variations in coal quality. With the subsequent modifications throughout the fifties the class was rejuvenated and performances more than matched the traffic demands resulting from BR’s Modernisation plans. In August 1954 it was allocated to London Old Oak Common depot.
No. 6024 with a London bound express, 19 April 1954. © Dick Blenkinsop
16 June 1955
With the mileage now at 1,320,206, No. 6024 was fitted with Swindon’s “improved draughting” smoke-box arrangements and new-pattern single-chimney to sharpen the exhaust following steaming problems resulting from the new-style “self-cleaning” spark arresting. On 2 November 1957 it was fitted with the final-form double-chimney at Swindon Works, designed to relieve cylinder back-pressure. In this form, on a number of occasions No. 6024 was recorded at over 100 mph.
‘King’ Class smokebox arrangement with double blastpipe, double chimney and self-cleaning spark arrestor.
It returned to the Works for heavy intermediate overhauls twice more, in September 1958 (mileage 1,408,510) when it was also fitted with the final-form of “basket” spark-arrester and in April 1960 (mileage 1,475,631) when it received its fourteenth and final boiler (No. 8610, still carried at present, which had previously been fitted to Nos. 6027 King Richard I, 6018 King Henry VI and 6000 King George V). In September 1961 No. 6024 was allocated to Cardiff Canton depot following the class’ replacement by diesel-hydraulic traction on the principal West of England and Midlands traffic.
‘King’ Class general arrangement diagram with the various modifications made in the 1950s.
Withdrawal and Preservation
19 June 1962
No. 6024 was condemned, with 1,570,015 miles on the clock, aged 32 years, and sent to Swindon. Boiler No. 8610 had covered 424,070 miles since new in February 1953. The locomotive was sold, first to TW Ward Limited of Briton Ferry on 10 October 1962, who then sold it on to Woodhams Brothers on 26 November 1962 following problems reaching Briton Ferry, ‘Kings’ having always been barred from running west of Cardiff.
1,570,015 miles on the clock, No. 6024 stands withdrawn from service at Cardiff Canton depot, 1962. © Colour Rail
The “King Preservation Society” was formed and in March 1973 the purchase of No. 6024 was completed for £4,250, just ahead of the introduction of VAT, saving the society a considerable sum. The locomotive was moved by road over four days to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre at Quainton Road, arriving there after the low loader suffered a number of punctures on the way! Today the moving of large steam locomotives by road is a common occurrence, not so in 1973. This move alone was a significant milestone for No. 6024.
Moving No. 6024 from Barry Scrapyard to Quainton, 1973. © Unknown, please contact us if you know the photographer
27 July 1974
The day No. 6024 was stripped to its major component parts with the removal of the boiler from the chassis, the bogie and driving wheels from the frames and the tender chassis and tank from its wheels. This work, which had involved the use of two road cranes, allowed No. 6024 to be fully assessed for overhaul. Many parts were missing, most of those left needed repairs; returning this ‘King’ to service was not going to be a quick, easy or inexpensive project.
As was common for the times, all of this work was undertaken in the open air regardless of the season or the weather. It wasn’t to be until 1986 that No. 6024 could be placed under cover in a shed again. Society members had erected a scaffolding and tarpalin tent to cover the locomotive in the 1970s but a real shed was a real boon.
No. 6024 stripped down to its major parts at Quainton, August 1975. © Unknown, please contact us if you know the photographer
Money was, perhaps unsurprisingly, always in short supply for such a complex restoration with many considering the project to be a “mission impossible”. Amongst the many missing components were all four connecting rods whilst it was found that the boiler needed a new smokebox tubeplate. Much money was raised through appeals and the very active sales side of the society but more was needed.
Quainton Sales Coach, a vital source of income. © F.J.Smith
The renamed “6024 Preservation Society Limited” introduced a new funding initiative, the Club 100, which in crucial ways proved the project’s turning-point and by 1984 was fully subscribed. The revenue-stream generated by the Club 100, and its successor the Club Sixty-Twenty Four, enabled progress to accelerate and has become the highly successful financial foundation for all of the Society‘s activities.
The new connecting rods were ordered in 1982, including machining the cost was £16,000. The new tubeplate cost a further £2000, such work convinced many people that No. 6024 would indeed run again. On 20 March 1983 No. 6024’s chassis once again sat on its wheels but much remained to be done. Work on the boiler was progressing but, in 1985, the decision was taken to send the boiler to a contractor to speed up the work. The boiler did not head to Sail and Steam in Brightlingsea until 17 February 1987.
24 November 1987
A momentous day, No. 6024 was moved out of its shed by GWR Pannier Tank 0-6-0 No. 9466 for testing in the yard. Whilst the locomotive lacked its boiler this gave society volunteers the chance to check the running of the near complete chassis. Pleasingly, only a couple of bearings needed any attention.
Chassis rolling test, 24 November 1987. © Unknown, please contact us if you know the photographer
28 March 1988
The overhauled boiler was returned to Quainton Road and refitted to the chassis, an event which made the pages of the ‘Daily Telegraph’ newspaper. The return of No. 6024 was getting closer but much remained to be done, it was to be a few more months before No. 6024 would move under its own power.
Boiler No. 8610 is returned to the chassis of No. 6024, 28 March 1988. © Unknown, please contact us if you know the photographer
2 February 1989
Almost sixty years after it first moved, on 2 February 1989, after seventeen years’ restoration work at Quainton Road, No 6024 resumed its career as a working machine, moving under its own power over a few hundred yards at Quainton.
No. 6024 runs for the first time in preservation, 2 February 1989. © Chris Brown
Back to the Mainline
26 April 1989
No. 6024 was re-commissioned by HRH The Duke of Gloucester during a memorable day at Quainton Road. On 9 October 1989, No. 6024 and tender were hair-raisingly loaded onto road vehicles and transported to the Birmingham Railway Museum at Tyseley. Quainton was not connected to the national railway network hence the need for No. 6024 to be moved by road for only the second time in its life.
26 April 1989, the day No. 6024 was officially was re-commissioned at Quainton. © Dave Fuszard
6 February 1990
The locomotive returned to the mainline between Birmingham and Derby on its first test run. Two days later, on 8 February 1990, No. 6024 undertook its loaded test run from Derby to Banbury then back to Tyseley. A subsequent day of test running on 20 March 1990 saw the locomotive declared fit to return to passenger-hauling mainline duties.
At this time mainline steam-hauled passenger trains were restricted to a handful of secondary mainline routes, often without entering busy centres. Light engine movements were possible on certain principal routes, but at night. No. 6024 was further barred from some routes because of its height – 13′ 5″ from rail height when fitted with new tyres. Therefore, ambitions were limited to getting onto the mainline rather than having any high hopes of re-tracing the steps of the ‘Kings’ in their heyday.
No. 6024 on test in February 1990. © Ian McDonald
15/16 April 1990
No. 6024’s first-revenue-earning work in preservation, over the short distance between Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon, running heavy trains alongside ‘Castle’ class No. 5080 Defiant. In recognition of the high standard to which the locomotive had been restored, No. 6024 was outright winner of the 1990 British Coal sponsored Heritage Award (for a restoration project using coal), and awarded a £3,000 prize which was put towards the restoration of a Mark I BSK coach, for transporting support crew and equipment for mainline work.
No. 6024 at Spring Road station with one of its first public trains in preservation, April 1990. © Dave Fuszard
24 June 1990
No. 6024 covered 188 passenger miles between Newport and Shrewsbury after which it returned to Swindon Works, for the first time since 1962, as part of the ‘National Railway Museum on Tour’ Exhibition. There, it briefly met up again with classmate No. 6000 King George V. The locomotive made more long-haul trips to Derby and elsewhere in 1991. On 9 September 1991 No. 6024 ran from Swindon to Hereford hauling the Society’s newly-acquired (but unpainted) Mark 1 Support Coach No. W35333
Two ‘Kings’ at Swindon, No. 6024 on the left and the first of the class, No. 6000 King George V, on the right. June 1990. © Dave Fuszard
15 August 1991
No. 6024 made its first trip in preservation to London. In a remarkable 5 locomotive convey (with 71000 Duke of Gloucester, 6998 Burton Agnes Hall, 5029 Nunney Castle & 3440 City of Truro) the locomotive made its way to what had been the GWR’s principal depot for express passenger locomotives in London at Old Oak Common. Here No. 6024 and its fellow travellers were star exhibits at the depot’s open day before repeating the locomotive convey back to Didcot.
7 December 1991
No. 6024 made its return to Paddington, the first time in preservation, running to Stratford-upon-Avon along the “New Road” via High Wycombe. No. 6024 was already running on routes which it had once seemed it would highly unlikely to ever visit again.
22 March 1992
Once more again working out and back to Paddington, the safety-valves caught the underside of the steel bridge at Ladbroke Grove causing them to be ripped from their seats. After repairs and a light engine run proved that this disaster had had no lasting ill effects, the locomotive resumed its programme, including its first revenue-earning run on the Golden Valley line (through Stroud) when it demonstrated that it had plenty in hand on this tricky climb.
No. 6024 minus safety valves at London Paddington, 22 March 1992. © Dave Fuszard
30/31 August 1992
No. 6024 made its much-awaited return by rail to Quainton Road running shuttles from Aylesbury with ‘Castle’ class No.5029 Nunney Castle. On 22 August 1993 a run from Didcot to Worcester via Oxford returning via Gloucester contained a number of “firsts”: the first run ever by No. 6024 along the Cotswold Line and the Midland route from Worcester to Gloucester (probably by any ‘King’) and the first steam-hauled passenger train along the Great Western Mainline between Swindon and Didcot for many years. 1993 was very significant, the changes within the railway industry in the run-up to privatisation strongly suggested many new steam routes would become available.
No. 6024 heads south at Pontrilas, 12 April 1993. © Dave Fuszard
30 January 1994
The Society took a gamble and promoted its first mainline charter, the “Red Dragon” to Cardiff, No.6024’s first trip to its former home city, by rail, since the 1960s. Following a further appearance at an open day at Old Oak Common depot and short stay at Didcot Railway Centre, the locomotive travelled to the Severn Valley Railway for the first time on 30 March 1994. On 4 April 1994 the locomotive and coach ran to Bristol Temple Meads to run a railtour, the first scheduled steam-hauled passenger train in Brunel’s great station since the GWR 150 Celebrations in 1985. The route included the climb of Filton Bank to Bristol Parkway and Westerleigh Junction then through Cheltenham to Gloucester; yet more new routes were opening up. This tour also broke new ground as the locomotive had been fitted with the BR Automatic Warning System. This was a requirement for running at 75 mph, previously there had been a blanket restriction of 60 mph on all mainline operating steam locomotives.
No. 6024 at Gloucester station heading for Cardiff, 30 January 1994. © Dave Fuszard
24 April 1994
No. 6024 used the Great Western Mainline from Paddington through Reading to Didcot. This was the first steam-hauled passenger service on this route since No. 6000 King George V ran in 1979 as a part of the “Paddington 125” celebrations. On 29 April 1994 No. 6024 made the first steam-hauled passenger train movement to Exeter since 1985, for the Rail-Fair held on 1/2 May 1994. After the event, the engine headed westwards with the support coach along the South Devon sea-wall to the dramatic Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway, where it ran service trains for a couple of days.
No. 6024 back in Devon at Exeter St David’s, 29 April 1994. © Dave Fuszard
20 May 1994
Although in BR days No. 6024 ended its career shedded at Cardiff Canton it never got further west in traffic so to run to Swansea, from Gloucester, was another first for the engine. On 2 October 1994 No. 6024 ran from Newport to Paignton via the Severn Tunnel, the first steam-hauled passenger train through that tunnel for many years and the first time for No. 6024 since 1962. 1994 was the locomotive’s busiest year yet. Almost 2,700 mainline miles were completed with some fascinating visits to different locations, as well as regular running on familiar routes.
No. 6024 climbs Sapperton Bank when running from Swansea to Didcot, 22 May 1994. © Martyn Bane
However, No.6024’s boiler certificate was due to run out in March 1995 dictating the need for an overhaul. The locomotive hauled three rail-tours in February and March 1995 as a temporary “goodbye”. These tours took the locomotive back to the now familiar haunts of Paddington, Paignton and Swansea. The train on 25 February 1995 saw No.6024 produce one of the highest outputs ever from a ‘King’ on a very memorable climb from Bridgend to Stormy Sidings, it seemed almost perverse a locomotive on such form was in need of overhauling.
1 March 1995
No.6024’s farewell train on Saint David’s Day ran on the direct route from Swansea to London Paddington, through the Severn Tunnel, before returning to Didcot, a route it was never dreamed would have been possible in 1990.
No. 6024 ready to depart from London Paddington on its last train before overhaul, 1 March 1995. © Martyn Bane
The boiler was sent to the Severn Valley Railway’s boiler workshop at Bridgnorth for a significant amount of work, it being a fact that when retired by BR boiler No. 8610 was getting “tired”. The rest of the locomotive needed varying levels of attention, a great deal of which was able to be carried out by society members.
Boiler No. 8610 under repair, 1996. © Dave Fuszard
Despite the many new routes which had become available in No. 6024’s five years of operating, the engine’s height was never far away from people’s concerns. It was preventing the locomotive from running on certain lines, such as the West of England mainline between Newton Abbot and Plymouth. As a result the 6024 Preservation Society undertook work to ascertain if lowering the locomotive’s height was possible. In addition, it was decided to fit the locomotive with air braking capabilities alongside of its original vacuum brakes to help it better fit in on the mainline network where the traditional vacuum brake was becoming scarcely used.
No. 6024 under overhaul inside the shed at BAD Kineton, mid 1996. © Dave Fuszard
23 September 1996
After eighteen months hard work, a modified ‘King’ – air-braked and with its height reduced – saw daylight again at the end of the summer, in readiness for a series of trains retracing the steps made by pioneer classmate No. 6000 King George V when it ran its “Return to Steam” tours in 1971. These rail-tours were arranged to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of No. 6000’s tours. On 2 October 1996, No. 6024 ran from Hereford to Birmingham Snow Hill via Severn Tunnel and Didcot, and on 5 October 1996 from Stourbridge Junction to Paddington via Birmingham Snow Hill and High Wycombe, to returning to Didcot
No. 6024 crossing Winterbourne Viaduct, 2 October 1996. © Martyn Bane
9 November 1996
No. 6024 made its much-anticipated return to Plymouth running on the West of England mainline from Paddington, double-headed from Newton Abbot with ‘Mogul’ 2-6-0 No. 7325. The same pairing headed north on the return to Kidderminster and the Severn Valley Railway on 30 November 1996. Following unexpected work needed on the locomotive’s cylinders the locomotive ran to a brand new location, the West Somerset Railway on 15 March 1997. The train ran through to Minehead from Didcot.
Fitting a new cylinder liner, January 1997 © Dave Fuszard
5 April 1997
The ‘King’ went to Plymouth again, this time unassisted, the first time since the 1960s a single steam locomotive had been entrusted with a train over the fearsome Devon Banks. 1997 ended well but with the banning of all steam between the beginning of June and the end of August to avoid line-side fires, the amount of work done by the engine was below average, with 1,400 mainline miles completed. 1998 dawned with a large and ambitious programme planned which started on home territory but then moved to pastures new with a month of intensive work in the North of England.
No. 6024 climbing Hatton Bank, 10 January 1998. © Martyn Bane.
7 March 1998
The first ‘King’ to venture to the famous Settle and Carlisle (S&C) route with a Crewe to Carlisle train. Returning south the following weekend a further Crewe to Carlisle duty was followed up with a Carlisle to York tour and a visit to the National Railway Museum. This train had taken No. 6024 through Leeds, a first for the locomotive but, unusually, not the first for any ‘King’, No. 6018 King Henry VI having visited during the 1948 Locomotive Exchanges. Sadly, No. 6024 performed well below its best during these runs in the north being dogged by poor steaming over these unfamiliar routes.
The ‘King’ in the North. No. 6024 on the Settle & Carlisle, 14 March 1998. © Martyn Bane
9 May 1998
No. 6024 made the second unassisted run over the South Devon banks and made the first recorded sortie by a ‘King’ into Cornwall over Brunel’s famous bridge over the Tamar with a train to Par. The engine stabled at the delightful Bodmin & Wenford Railway for three weeks and returned from Cornwall on 30 May 1998. Another first for No. 6024 took place on 22 August 1998 when the locomotive worked from Newport to Carmarthen. On 5 September 1998 it made a first-ever visit by a ‘King’ to Weymouth and on the 19 September 1998, the first ever ‘King’ run through Cornwall to Penzance, returning the following day from Falmouth.
A ‘King’ on the Falmouth branch, No. 6024 breaks new ground again, 20 September 1998. © Martyn Bane
22 November 1998
Saw the locomotive transferring to Leeds, following a run to York on 14 November 1998, to replicate the 1948 Locomotive Exchanges between there and the capital along the East Coast Mainline by No. 6018 King Henry VI. For that day only No. 6024 appeared as the long ago scrapped No. 6018. In very damp conditions No. 6024 made a very impressive start from Leeds with an extremely heavy train (around 590 tons) before some high speed running on the former racing tracks of the London and North Eastern Railway’s Pacific locomotives.
As 6018 King Henry VI at Kings Cross, 22 November 1998. © Dave Fuszard
On 20 December 1998 the locomotive ventured even further east, to Cambridge and Norwich, and completed the Society’s busiest year yet with No. 6024 covering almost 4,000 miles.
23 January 1999
Continuing to go further afield the locomotive made the first of two visits to Holyhead whilst on 14 February 1999 an excursion to Salisbury and Basingstoke saw No. 6024 visit more uncharted waters. On 26 March 1999 No. 6024 made a forgettable northbound attempt on Shap, and an unforgettable southbound run before returning to home territory for the remainder of 1999. 3 July 1999 saw No. 6024 head as far west into Wales as the GWR reached – Fishguard, another first for the class. Following this the locomotive headed to the South West again, spending some time running on the Paignton to Kingswear route before, on 5 September 1999, heading back towards the Midlands. Whilst hauling its train from Paignton to Gloucester a valve head failure near Worle Junction brought to an end what had, until that time, being a record-breaking run. Following repairs and test running it was extremely disappointing that another valve head failure occurred on 13 November 1999, leading to a prolonged period under repair at another new location for No. 6024, Yeovil Railway Centre.
A broken valve head and subsequently damaged GWR type semi-plug valve rings., December 1999. © Dave Fuszard
18 March 2000
Once repairs had been completed, which aside from valves had included a new smokebox door and ring, the locomotive moved to the West Somerset Railway for test running after which a successful loaded test run saw the locomotive pronounced fit for service. On 18 March 2000 No. 6024 made its first ever visit to another London terminus, this time Victoria, hauling a train back to the West Somerset Railway.
Test run preparations in the old steam depot at Southall in West London, 16 March 2000. © Dave Fuszard
Following this No. 6024 returned to Didcot for runs on home ground before making a return visit to York and run to Peterborough. Further runs on home ground were followed by a run which put the locomotive in Crewe for Christmas and proposed runs in the North in early 2001.
10 February 2001
No. 6024 made another visit to the S&C, this time southbound only after the planned series of runs prior to this trip had been cancelled. The day before No. 6024 and support coach W35333 had run north, via Shap.
After improved performances by the ‘King’ during early 2001, a driving-wheel hot-box came out of the blue and was an unwelcome set-back. Being particularly sensitive to precise weight-distribution and balancing because of its overall weight, it inevitably took the ‘King’ some time and a couple of trials to get things right again and finally prove the repairs.
No. 6024 “inside” No. 5029 Nunney Castle at Bristol Temple Meads, 19 May 2001. © Dave Fuszard
31 August 2002
Crowned the complete rehabilitation of the locomotive with an astonishing record-breaking performance between Plymouth and Exeter after several other fine runs on home territory. These had followed a couple of sunny months running on the lovely Watercress Line. To reach that line, in the Spring of 2002, No. 6024 made its way under cover of darkness via Guildford to Alton. After this the locomotive had made a return to the West Somerset Railway putting it firmly back in home territory.
No. 6024 on the West Somerset Railway, 7 September 2002. © Martyn Bane
26 October 2002
No. 6024’s second mainline ticket came to an abrupt end with the failure of several boiler tubes, discovered after an eventful run from Birmingham to Devon and back which, due to multiple problems not all of No. 6024’s making, saw the loco and coaches return to Tyseley around sixteen hours later than planned!
No. 6024 emerges from Parson’s Tunnel on its last trip before overhaul, 26 October 2002. © Roy Avis
No. 6024’s second overhaul in preservation was undertaken by society members at Tyseley Locomotive Works (TLW) with a degree of the work, such as on the boiler, being contracted to TLW. The maintenance work undertaken in the previous few years meant that much of the condition of the locomotive was known. Aside from the boiler, which required little more than a retube, the rear set of driving wheels had to be retyred. The condition of all the driving wheels had been a concern when the locomotive had returned to the mainline in 1990 but, thankfully, had worn at a much slower than expected rate. The need to retyre the rear driving wheels being down to the condition of the flanges which had worn faster, largely caused by running in reverse on preserved railways. A downside of just retyring one set of driving wheels was the need to turn the new tyres down to match the size of the leading and intermediate set of driving wheels. However, to keep the locomotive’s height down, it was necessary to run on relatively thin tyres so the loss was not as severe as it otherwise would have been.
No. 6024 minus its boiler in the shed at Tyseley Locomotive Works, 28 June 2003. © Martyn Bane
Most of the overhaul work consisted of returning components to close to new condition, where possible, and where not possible ensuring they remained within allowable tolerances.
Freshly overhauled boiler No. 8910 undergoes a steam test at Tyseley, 17 April 2004. © Martyn Bane
Two significant modifications were undertaken during the overhaul. The first and most practically appreciated was the conversion of the tradition flat-bottomed “rake out” ashpan into as close to a hopper ashpan as space allowed. This considerably eased disposable and servicing making it possible to empty the ashpan when there is no ready access to a pit, as can be common when on the mainline. The other modification was required to allow the locomotive to continue to operate on the mainline. The fitment of Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) was the first true application of electronics to the locomotive.
Just a small part of the wiring necessary for the TPWS fitment to No. 6024, 18 September 2004. © Martyn Bane
The Third Return
7 October 2004
No. 6024 returned to the mainline with a test run from Tyseley to Bescot and return. This was followed by a series of evening test trains over the North Warwickshire line between Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon. No. 6024 then resumed duties on home territory with runs to London and the West Country. On 26 February 2005 it made its first assault on the fearsome Lickey incline, a first for a ‘King’.
No. 6024 on a running in trip at Bescot, 7 October 2004. © Dave Fuszard
28 February 2005
For almost a quarter of a century, more than anyone else, Bernard Staite had influenced and promoted preserved steam on the mainline. A train made up of the Venice Simplon Orient Express Pullmans (VSOE) was hauled by No. 6024 piloting the Severn Valley Railway’s ‘Manor’ Class No. 7802 Bradley Manor, to celebrate a great career spent advancing preserved mainline steam and to mark Bernard’s retirement.
‘The Staite Pullman’ behind No. 6024 and No. 7802 Bradley Manor, 28 February 2005. © Huw Button
2 July 2005
To celebrate the locomotive’s 75th Anniversary the Society sponsored an ambitious railtour between Paddington and Kingswear, returning to Taunton, replicating a ‘King’-hauled named train of GWR days over a traditional ‘King’ route. This was to celebrate almost exactly to the day (5 July 1930) the locomotive had been “set to work” seventy-five years earlier. Shortly before this trip, an event was held for Society Members at Old Oak Common depot. The rest of the summer saw No. 6024 become the usual traction for the summer “Torbay Express”, a job most suited to the locomotive.
A further mandated modification was undertaken during the running season, this being the fitment of On Train Monitoring & Recording (OTMR), colloquially known as the “black box”, a data recorder.
No. 6024 with the ‘Torbay Express’ at Cockwood Harbour, 28 August 2005 © Brian Bane
22 April 2006
No. 6024 headed back to Fishguard after having run to Carmarthen on 25 March 2006. The locomotive spent the year based in either London or Bristol. More familiar routes filled the remainder of 2006 including regular work on the ‘Torbay Express’ trains from Bristol to Kingswear and, on the 21 October 2006, a welcome return to Cornwall and Penzance.
Ready for a trip into South Wales at Barton Hill depot, Bristol, 25 March 2006. © Martyn Bane
7 April 2007
Doubleheading with ‘Castle’ 5051 Earl Bathurst No. 6024 hauled the Penzance to Bristol leg of the first “Great Britain” railtour for the Railway Touring Company. This trip and the previous run from Bristol were the ‘Castle’s’ last two mainline trips to date. Runs with limited water-stops between Shrewsbury and Paddington on 9 June 2007 and Paddington and Yeovil (and return) on 16 June 2007, were made possible by using the Society’s then “on test” water-carrier. The summer saw the locomotive back on its now regular summer ‘Torbay Express’ duties. An oddity, on 24 August 2008, was a trip from Bristol to Par and return with Southern Railway ‘Battle of Britain’ No. 34067 Tangmere, the first mainline pairing of the two classes?
Following repairs in the autumn, the locomotive finished the year with a run from Birmingham to Chester and return, on 22 December 2007, along the LNWR’s rival route to the GWR’s Chester line, and a return to the Lickey incline on 29 December 2007. Following these trains No. 6024 headed to Didcot for its scheduled winter maintenance period.
No. 6024 pilots 5051 Earl Bathurst at Burlescombe, 7 April 2007. © Brian Bane
10 June 2008
The most prestigious engagement possible with the hauling of The Royal Train carrying HRHs Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth. This marked the re-opening of the Severn Valley Railway after severe flood damage in 2006. The locomotive had been out of traffic until late May, the planned maintenance winter maintenance period having been extended by work which was found to be necessary.
On 1 August 2008 No. 6024 laid a ghost to rest by making a successful visit to Weymouth from Bristol Temple Meads. The locomotive then took up ‘Torbay Express’ duties for the remainder of the summer making a particularly notable westbound assault on Whiteball on 3 August 2008 achieving 50mph at the Tunnel mouth. An overheated bogie bearing cut short the final ‘Torbay Express’ duty of 2008 on 14 September 2008 but the locomotive was repaired in time for a Christmas season of ‘Torbay Express’ trains retiring afterwards for planned maintenance at Williton on the West Somerset Railway.
No. 6024 hauling the Royal Train, 10 June 2008. © Robin Coombes
10 August 2009
No. 6024 worked a private charter from Bristol to Shrewsbury and return following the passing of Bernard Staite. His ashes were placed in the firebox at the site of Llanfihangel station after which the train made an appropriate stop at his home town of Hereford. Further intensive work on the ‘Torbay Express’ followed before rounding the year off with a memorable return run from Temple Meads to Paddington and return on 12 December 2009. The successes through the second half of 2009 came after another extended period of maintenance, again based at Williton, including specialist copper welding repairs to the firebox tubeplate. The tubeplate, which dated back to the 1950s, was found to be nearing the end of its useful life.
No. 6024 at Bishops Lydeard, waiting to head back to the mainline, 9 August 2009. © Martyn Bane
The year of the Great Western Railway’s 175th anniversary, it was highly appropriate that No. 6024 playing a principal role amassing 5000 miles on the main line. Visits were made to all the mainlines that the King Class were designed for – Plymouth (and Penzance), Birmingham Snow Hill and Cardiff (Carmarthen). Between 14 and 17 June 2010 No.6024 was on display at Taunton station with many school groups and enthusiasts visiting the locomotive.
The 80th birthday of the locomotive was marked on 10 July 2010 with a specially devised itinerary from Paddington to Birmingham Snow Hill and Worcester Shrub Hill and return to Reading via Sapperton. In addition, the locomotive made its debut on the VSOE British Pullman running from London to Bristol on 14 July 2010.
Over a long weekend, from 26 to 28 July 2010, the locomotive ran from London Paddington, via the Berks & Hants route, to Exeter whereupon it was joined by 5029 Nunney Castle for a very memorable run over the Devon Banks and back into Cornwall as far as Par. Poor quality coal dogged the run to Exeter, necessitating diesel assistance from Taunton but a fresh delivery of coal saw the end to these problems. The return trip, with the Castle, was the longest single tour undertaken by No. 6024 in the preserved era. 323 miles, running from Penzance to London Paddington via Bristol, came on top of a ‘small hours’ run backwards from Par to Penzance.
A further double header this time with 60163 Tornado to Plymouth was followed by a icy run up the North & West route to Shrewsbury on 27 November 2010 to round off a highly successful year’s running.
No. 6024 pilots No. 5029 Nunney Castle at Dawlish, 26 June 2010. © Michael Proudfoot
23 April 2011
Two ‘Kings’ in steam – For the first time since the 1960s and for one day only two ‘Kings’ were in steam on the same day and in the same place – Didcot Railway Centre. No. 6024, which had started the year running at the West Somerset Railway, travelled to Didcot to join newly restored ‘King’ No. 6023 King Edward II for a warm and sunny day of running together.
No. 6024 broke new ground for the class on 1 May 2011 venturing down the Pembroke Dock branch, the second attempt to get here. Plymouth was visited in June and October as well as bringing the 2011 ‘Torbay Express’ season to a triumphant close on 18 September 2011. Appearance at Severn Valley Railway’s Autumn Gala preceded the final train of 2011 when the locomotive made probably its finest ever performance northbound over the Welsh Marches to Shrewsbury on 26 November 2011 managing 40mph at Llanfihangel summit with 12 coaches on the drawbar. Moving to Southall a few days later gave rise to preparation for the final planned runs for 2012.
Two ‘Kings’ and a ‘Castle’. No. 6023 King Edward II stands to the left of No. 6024, to its right is ‘Castle’ 5051 Earl Bathurst, 23 April 2011. © Martyn Bane
17 March 2012
The date set for No. 6024 to be withdrawn from mainline operations. However, there was a busy programme lined up prior to this date. In line with 6024 Preservation Society Ltd & Royal Scot Locomotive & General Trust’s charitable objectives an educational visit was made to Yeovil in early February 2012 where the locomotive played host to several local schools from Yeovil area. Returning to Southall the locomotive started its final programme of railtours before withdrawal. 12 February 2012 saw a cold run to Bristol Temple Meads from Paddington followed by a special to Cardiff for ‘Help the Heroes’. Who can forget the night-time dash from Cardiff to Gloucester? And arrival into London Euston (another first) later the same evening. Two days later and the locomotive ran again up Brunel’s Billiard Table this time from Bristol to Paddington covering 43 miles of the route at over 70mph average speed. The last run on 17 March 2012 paid tribute to the No. 6024’s dominance of the ‘Torbay Express’ in its third mainline ticket on another run to Kingswear but with a variation, running out via Bath before returning direct back to Bristol Temple Meads in fine style. All that remained was the 50 miles engine and coach move back to West Somerset Railway and saying goodbye to the mainline for now………
No. 6024 heads for London Paddington through Sonning Cutting, 3 March 2012. © Paul Blowfield
15 April 2012
No. 6024 was withdrawn for its 3rd overhaul in preservation after a few weeks of operation on the West Somerset Railway hauling public and private trains. Minehead had been chosen as the location for the overhaul so it was appropriate that No. 6024 went cold at that depot allowing the overhaul to start in earnest a few days later.
No. 6024 and various people involved on its last day prior to overhaul. The loco had just been parked up at Minehead at the end of its turn, 15 April 2012. © Martyn Bane
The third overhaul in preservation and the most comprehensive ever undertaken. It was known No. 6024 had become “tired” but the extent to which both the engine and tender required major work turned out to be even worse than the most pessimistic projections. Much of the work found to be necessary was only revealed on disassembly. Key amongst these were the need to substantially renew the tender inner chassis plates and dragbox, the engine dragbox, which was more filler than metal with the replacement casting also requiring a pattern to be made, and a nasty surprise with the driving wheels. Very significant cracking was found in the rims, previously hidden by the tyres. Repair work to the wheels required innovative welding repair procedures and, inevitably, added several years to the overhaul timescales. The boiler was also in need of heavy repair, with a new copper tubeplate in the firebox being required, at least this was previously known about! These being just a few of the major components, with a myriad of smaller items also needing serious repair work or replacement with new.
Reaming out the holes for fitted bolts used to secure the horn guides into place, 4 July 2013. © Martyn Bane
It could be said that until 2012 No. 6024 had been trading on the final heavy general repair carried out by BR and the subsequent restoration and overhauls by the 6024 Preservation Society Ltd. This work had enabled it to be possible to extract the maximum life from multiple components but, finally, they needed replacement, a situation not unfamiliar to other locomotive operators in the 21st century.
The new dragbox is partially hidden by other parts of No. 6024’s rear end, 26 July 2014. © Martyn Bane
In addition to the “traditional” overhaul work the air braking system has been totally reworked in light of experience whilst the electrical systems, a weak point on the loco over many years, are being replaced by a very comprehensive system similar to that fitted to No. 60163 Tornado. Shortly after No. 6024 had been withdrawn the tender was fitted with the then new GSM-R radio system as part of a Network Rail sponsored programme.
As if all of this work wasn’t enough for one overhaul, it had been known that both outside cylinders, due to repeated cracking, would need either major repairs or total renewal. It was decided to go with the latter option, a repaired set of cylinders would have probably only given another 10 years of service at best. As width clearance has become a major headache for mainline steam operators the options to reduce the overall width of the locomotive was investigated as part of the cylinder renewal project. As a result, a subtly altered pair of cylinders was designed and produced for No. 6024. When this ‘King’ returns to mainline service it will be both narrower and somewhat less tall than it was in GWR and BR days making it “fit” the national railway network more easily and in some cases making it possible to run to locations which it otherwise could not.
Brand new outside cylinder shortly after fitting to No. 6024’s chassis, 25 November 2015. © Martyn Bane
Withdrawn June 1962 Total Mileage to June 1962 1,570,015
|Railway||GWR/BR(W)||Number of Cylinders||4, 2 inside, 2 outside|
|Built||June 1930||Cylinder Size||16″ x 28″|
|Total of Class Built||30||Max Boiler Pressure||250 psi|
|Designer||C B Collett||Fire Grate||34.4 sq ft|
|Built at||Swindon Works||Tractive Effort||40,300 lb|
|Power Classification||GWR: Special BR: 8P||Horsepower||1800-2000dbhp|
|Wheel Arrangement||4-6-0||Tender Water Capacity||4,000 Gallons|
|Total Length||68′ 2″||Tender Coal Capacity||6 Tons|
|Working Order Weight||136 Tons||Entered Service||5 July 1930|
|Driving Wheel Diameter||6′ 6″||Entered Service after Restoration||2 February 1989|
|Shed Allocation||Plymouth Laira 1930 and 1948, Newton Abbot 1934, Old Oak Common March 1959, Cardiff Canton 1962||Valve Gear||Inside Walschaerts and rocking shafts|
Many books have been published over the years on GWR ‘Kings’ and related locomotive classes. Amongst the best are:
- “King Edward I – A Monarch Restored” Chris Brown
- “Portrait of Kings” Kenneth Leech
- “Portraits of Western 4-6-0s” Kenneth Leech
- “Stars, Castles & Kings” O.S. Nock
- “Castles and Kings at Work” Michael Rutherford
- “A Monarch at Work” Tim Watson
- “The Book Of The King 4-6-0s” John Jennison
No. 6024 being turned on the turntable at Didcot Railway Centre, 2007. © Robin Coombes