Times flies – 30 years on….

The 15th of April 1990 was a memorable day not only for members of the 6024 Preservation Society, but also for the locomotive which had been withdrawn in 1962 and consigned for scrap, never to run again…… or so it was thought!

Purchased in 1972 from the famous Woodhams scrapyard at Barry Island, the locomotive, devoid of almost all non-ferrous parts together with severed piston and connecting rods, missing slide bars and cross heads was transported in 1973 by road to Quainton Road in Buckinghamshire. There the locomotive was stripped down and painstakingly re-built over the next 16 years. After initial light running in on the Quainton demonstration line, the locomotive was transported, again by road, to Tyseley, south Birmingham where it arrived on the 10th October 1989 for the ‘King & Castle Gala’ and further testing.

At 13.08 on Tuesday 30th January, No.6024 King Edward I touched the then British Railways mainline once again with a memorable engine and support coach run to Derby for weighing and spring adjustment. Thursday 1st February saw No.6024 leave Derby for a spirited loaded test run to Banbury with load 11 (390 tons), all went well until approaching Banbury when it was discovered that the white metal in one of the cross head slippers had run, so a more pedestrian trip, this time, backwards to Tyseley followed. Repaired and following a further test run to Stratford on Avon, all was now set for the locomotives first revenue earning trip since 1962.

In conjunction with the Birmingham Railway Museum four trains a day between Tyseley and Stratford upon Avon were organised running as ‘The Shakespeare Express’. The load was 13 heavy carriages comprising 11 of the SLOA Mk 1 Pullmans together with former GWR 12 wheel Special Saloon No.9001 and inspection Saloon No.80972, an impressive and heavy load of over 500 tons to haul up the curving 1 in 75 out of Stratford! The fully sold trains were hauled turn and turn about with newly restored ex GWR ‘Castle’ No.5080 Defiant from the Museum. The first train of the day was followed, one section behind, down the picturesque North Warwick line by the other loco which then coupled on to the  Birmingham end of the train in Stratford. The locomotive which had hauled the train in to Stratford was uncoupled and following the right of way banked the train over the canal bridge hump at the bottom of Wilmcote bank. Having ridden on the trains, the change of beat/bark of each loco, when it took the full weight of the train was palpable, but both locos showed the famous sure-footedness that Swindon s finest were famous for. It was a memorable weekend and set the scene for No.6024’s return to the mainline in fine style.

In celebration of that memorable weekend we present a few photographs of those trains.