The Bluebell Railway-based Maunsell Q 0-6-0 No. 30541 was the star guest at the Great Central Railway’s winter steam gala, making its first-ever appearance on Britain’s only double track heritage main line, with nine other locomotives in steam, writes Robin Jones.
Around 5000 people attended the Great Central Railway’s winter steam gala over January 27-29, one of only a handful of events which provide a welcome break in the otherwise silent weeks of post-new year.
The guest locomotive for this year’s event was the Maunsell Locomotive Society’s 1939-built Q 0-6-0 No. 30541, the sole survivor of a class of 20.
Designed by Southern Railway chief mechanical engineer Richard Maunsell, the class was built under his successor Oliver Bulleid, just before the Second World War.
They were intended for use on medium-distance freight trains, replacing old
pre-Grouping types. However, their
design was old fashioned in itself, and were soon eclipsed by Bulleid’s own and more
Nonetheless, the Qs were by no means obsolete, and remained in service until 1965.
It was thanks to Woodham Brothers scrapyard at Barry that one of the class survived. No. 30541 was bought by enthusiasts in 1973 and at first moved to the Dowty Preservation Society’s base at Ashchurch near Tewkesbury.
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