7029 Clun Castle
7029 Clun Castle was built in 1950 by British Railways to Charles Collett’s 1923 Great Western Railway design. In the late 1950’s Clun Castle was fitted with a four-row superheater and double chimney. This enabled the locomotive (which already had an impressive performance), to compete with new diesels being introduced on fast trains. In 1964 Clun Castle took the record for the shortest timed point to point journey from Plymouth to Bristol. This epic run by the last of the Castle class in every day service ensured 7029’s preservation and the beginning of Vintage Trains based at Tyseley in Birmingham – She also hauled the last steam train out of London’s Paddington station – the last steam train on the Western Region.
Clun Castle powered the last express steam train on the GWR’s northern route to Birkenhead, and the last steam train out of both Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor Street stations.
Clun Castle was back in the news when she hauled the first ‘Return to Steam’ celebration run ending the short-lived British Rail steam ban. In 1988, the future King Charles III drove Clun Castle from Birmingham Snow Hill to Tyseley as part of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the London & Birmingham Railway and to mark Vintage Trains’ significant contribution to the Midlands economy by retraining over 800 people during the 1980s recession. In 1992 Clun Castle was the first steam locomotive to return to Cornwall since regular steam operation, a highlight of the 150th anniversary of the GWR.
Clun Castle has now been in charitable ownership for nearly 60 years (as against 16 for British Railways).
5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe
5043 is Vintage Trains’ second member of the Castle Class. She was built in 1936 and so is an authentic Great Western Railway locomotive. Originally named Barbury Castle, she was renamed Earl of Mount Edgcumbe in 1937 after one of the aristocratic directors of the GWR. In 1958 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe was one of 65 Castle class locomotives to be fitted with a four-row superheater, double blast pipe, and double chimney (like Clun Castle – which is the only other doubled chimneyed Castle to survive)). Earl of Mount Edgcumbe ran some of the Western Region’s top expresses including The Bristolian, as it was based London’s Old Oak Common Depot. The locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1963 and bought by Woodham Brothers, Barry Scrapyard 6 months later. After nearly 9 years in the open air, 5043 was bought byVintage Trains for spare parts for 7029. However, with the development of Tyseley Locomotive Works, it was decided to return 5043 to steam in her own right in 1996. .
Tyseley Locomotive Works rebuilt 5043 to the highest standards. The loco has run far and wide for Vintage Trains, including unfamiliar territory such as Stirling and Edinburgh in Scotland. 5043 has recorded some remarkable performances in preservation, including several non-stop runs, recreating The Bristolian, The Cheltenham Spa Express, and The Inter City. More recently, 5043 ran on the Plymouth to Bristol route and shaved a few minutes off 7029’s own record.
In 2010, 5043 was credited with generating an estimated 2030 equivalent drawbar horsepower hauling an excursion over the Settle-Carlisle line. This is thought to be believed to be a power output record for the entire GWR Castle class, and also exceeds the maximum power outputs of the diesel hydraulic locomotives built to replace them.
So now we have two record breakers in the collection. 5043 is back in action after a thorough overhaul and will be seen hauling our trains during 2023 and beyond.
D1755 The Queen Mother
D1755 is from one of the most successful of modern diesel electric locomotive classes, built in large numbers to run across the whole British Rail network. Constructed by the Brush Falcon Works, Loughborough as D1755, and entering service in August 1964 at Swansea. In November 1974 D1755 was renumbered into TOPS as 47541 (after originally being allocated 47161).
On 20th October 1982, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother named the locomotive “The Queen Mother” at a ceremony at Aberdeen station. This was the first time that a member of the Royal Family had personally named a locomotive. In January 1994, the loco was renumbered, becoming 47773. In August, the same year it was renamed Reservist. Eight years later, and without ceremony, 47773 became The Queen Mother again at Toton freight depot – possibly the only locomotive to have been given the same name twice!
In March 2004, 47443 was withdrawn from service, and three years later was bought by Vintage Trains and returned to the loco’s former stamping grounds. It was allocated (as D1755) to the Birmingham Division (Bescot-Saltley) from February 1969 to July 1970.
Repainted into the highly suitable and authentic two tone green, D1755 has travelled far and wide for Vintage Trains. Vintage Trains use D1755 to support our steam locomotives by providing resilience, enabling shunting and empty stock moves, and providing cover during summer (temporary) steam bans. Rarely is it necessary for D1755 to give our steam engines a ‘push’.
37 240 is the newest member of the Vintage Trains fleet. It is an English Electric Type 3 locomotive, built in 1964 at EE’s woks in Newton-le-Willows. In its British Railways life, it could be seen on South Wales, Yorkshire, and the North East, finishing at Eastfield (Glasgow) in 1988. 14 years later it was withdrawn from service. 37 240 was part of the 37/0 sub-class. The class were designed as mixed traffic locomotives and originally fitted with a steam heating boiler; this was removed form 37 240 in 1969. The locomotive is fitted for working with vacuum braked stock (Vintage Trains coaches are nearly all vacuum braked) and has extended fuel tanks.
In preservation it was moved to Llangollen by the Llangollen Diesel Group, who operated it from 2003 to 2018. 37 240 was sold in 2018 and was moved to Boden Rail Engineering Ltd, who re-registered it for use of Network Rail in 2020.
Boden Rail painted 37 240 in the short-lived Transrail livery. On the Llangollen railway it was painted in the two-tone ‘Dutch’ livery.
In Vintage Trains ownership since 2022, the locomotive will undergo a thorough overhaul and testing before venturing out onto the mainline.
37 403 Isle of Mull
While 37 240 is being overhauled we will hire in the Scottish Railway Preservations Society’s Class 37 “Isle of Mull”. This locomotive is a popular choice with enthusiasts – and it has the advantage for passengers of being fitted with heating equipment.
Originally painted BR Green when it was delivered from English Electric’s Vulcan Foundry, it now carries the BR Blue livery with large BR logos, and the Highland Terrier logo. This locomotive was designated Class 37/4 – which meant, among other things, that it was fitted with Electric Train Heating equipment.
Delivered as D6607, the locomotive saw service in Wales and the West of England before being transferred to Scotland in 1984. While in Scotland it had several name changes: Isle of Mull (1986-1988) Glendarroch (1988–1984), and Ben Cruachan (1984-?).
The Scottish Railway Preservation Society took ownership in 2009. Since then it has been used extensively by SRPS on charters and hired out to other users; including a spell with Direct Rail Services on their Cumbrian Coast Trains.
The Class 20s
English Electric Type 2 locomotives (Class 20’s) owned by Class 20189 Ltd, are often seen on Vintage Trains’ services. We have used 20142 and 29189 on trains as diverse as THE POLAR EXPRESSTM, and the South Wales Explorer. 20 189 has coupled with 20 227 on the Jolly Fisherman.
These locomotives are members of the successful English Electric Type 1 light mixed traffic diesel locomotives built between 1957 and 1968. Railway enthusiasts know them as ‘Choppers’ (when working hard they sound like a helicopter).
20 142 was built at the English Electric works in Newton-le-Willows and delivered to British Railways Birmingham division in 1965 and spent most of its BR working life in the Midlands. 20 142 carries the name “Sir John Betjeman” and is painted in a variance of the Metropolitan Railway colours. 20 189 was also built at EE’s Vulcan Foundry. It entered British Railways service in 1967 at Nottingham and spent all of its BR life in the East Midlands. It carries its original BR Blue livery. 20 227 was last spotted on the North Norfolk Railway.
Unusually for British designs, the locomotive has a single cab. When the Class 20’s worked in pairs they ran with their cabs at opposite ends; ensuring the driver could clearly see the road ahead.
In British Railways days, class 20’s rarely hauled passenger trains – one reason is that they don’t have any train heating system!
Sutton Miniature Railway (SMR)
Vintage Trains Charitable Trust (VTCT) are now the custodians of a historically significant piece of Midlands miniature railway history: the engines and rolling stock of the former 15” gauge Sutton Coldfield Miniature Railway.
The Sutton Miniature Railway (SMR) collection comprises two steam locomotives, (No.1 Sutton Bell and No.2 Sutton Flyer), the former Dudley Zoo based petrol Railcar (No.4) in the style of a 1930’s GWR railcar, 4 closed carriages and four open carriages. Finally, there is an original Coal Wagon from the Douglas Clayton collection dating back to the 1930’s.
The original railway opened in 1907 and was a popular attraction in Sutton Park as part of the Crystal Palace funfair until it closed in 1962. The collection went into hibernation for some 39 years until a lottery grant funded the collection’s restoration and a move to Cleethorpes Light Railway in 2001. Unfortunately, in its latter years at Cleethorpes the SMR Historic Collection (as it became known) fell into disuse as it wasn’t wholly suitable for Cleethorpes Light Railway’s operating plans, and the fleet of carriages were left in the open to the elements and the harsh sea air.
The opportunity to rescue the collection and return it to the Midlands for preservation was very much in keeping with the aims and aspirations of VTCT and one not to be missed.
Whilst it is our intention for the collection to visit other 15” gauge railways, plans are well advanced for a miniature railway of our own as part of the wider Vintage Trains’ Tyseley site development. This will start as an initial short stretch of line for demonstration and education purposes and should extend as funds and site access allows. This will be a dream for any rail enthusiast – a ride behind one of Sutton Miniature Railways famous locomotives around the sights and sounds of Tyseley’s historic rail yard.
The Vintage Trains miniature railway is all about participation. This is an entirely volunteer lead project that hopes to encourage new interest into what we do at Vintage Trains and the heritage rail sector generally. It is the perfect platform for us to build new enthusiasm, engage with our local community, as well as providing the perfect platform to train our engineers and loco crews of the future.