WESTERN Region 4-6-0 No. 7029 Clun Castle – one of the heritage sector’s biggest icons outside of Flying Scotsman and Mallard – was afforded a welcome for a hero as it made its first public movements at an exclusive VIP launch.
Shortly after 11am on Saturday, October 28, the 1950-built Swindon product in gleaming BR locomotive green moved out of its shed and along the demonstration line at Tyseley Locomotive Works to rapturous applause by invited guests.
Moved into position on the works’ turntable, the locomotive was officially recommissioned when the young family of Tyseley’s works manager Alastair Meanley, (son of Tyseley Chief Engineer Bob Meanley), unveiled the Castle’s nameplate.
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Throughout the day, Clun Castle steamed up and down the Tyseley demonstration line, double-heading with classmate No. 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. No. 7029 will take the latter’s place as the flagship of Vintage Trains’ main line fleet alongside No. 5043.
The history of Clun Castle has long been part of heritage railway folklore.
First allocated to Newton Abbot, it had a double chimney and a four-row superheater fitted in October 1959. Its biggest claim to fame was on May 9, 1964 on the Plymouth to Bristol leg of the ‘Ian Allan Plymouth to Paddington special’ marking the unofficial 100mph record set 60 years earlier by GWR 4-4-0 City of Truro on Wellington Bank.
This time Clun Castle was timed at 96 mph on the descent of Wellington Bank.
Last shedded at Gloucester in May 1965, it hauled the last official steam train out of Paddington (to Banbury) on June 11, 1965. When it was officially withdrawn in December 1965, it was the last operational Castle.
In early 1966, No. 7029 was bought by Pat Whitehouse, one of the founders of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society (and therefore the heritage railway movement) bringing about the formation of the charity 7029 Clun Castle Limited in the process.
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