Open day anniversary: Tyseley – here’s to the next 50… and more!


The weekend of September 29-30 saw Tyseley Locomotive Works celebrate in style the 50th anniversary of its first open day back in 1968. Robin Jones encountered a fresh atmosphere of euphoria and positivIty around the GWR depot as Vintage Trains embarks on its next great adventure in its new role as a Train Operating Company.

A Tyseley Locomotive Works open day never disappoints. The steam depot in the heart of one of Birmingham’s inner-city industrial suburbs, which has taken over the mantle of Swindon in keeping regular classic GWR steam live on the main line, is now poised for its biggest heritage era venture yet, as Britain’s newest Train Operating Company – as outlined in Main Line News,
pages 62-63.

Each afternoon, a cavalcade was held of the locomotives currently in steam, led by GWR 4-6-0 No. 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, marking its final public duties before overhaul. Behind it was No. 7029 Clun Castle, No. 4965 Rood Ashton Hall and LMS Jubilee 4-6-0 No. 45596 Bahamas, fresh from Tyseley’s workshops. VT

As I wrote in issue 244, Tyseley has been part and parcel of our family history since my earliest childhood.

When our dad took us to his place of work, the Midland Electrical Manufacturing Co Ltd in nearby Reddings Lane, where he was head of printing, our test would be a walk down to Warwick Road to see if a GWR masterpiece was parked outside for us to admire through the fence.

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First lady of steam: Lady Judy McAlpine on the footplate of Clun Castle with Tyseley’s chief engineer Bob Meanley. VT

I did not attend the first Tyseley open day in 1968, but was there with my Kodak Instamatic two years later.

In those far-off steam-starved times, when most of today’s heritage railways were still little more than ideas and ambitions, and the BR steam ban was yet to be lifted, a Tyseley open day was a haven for hordes of like-minded people, a delightful assortment of exhibits big and small and society stalls where you could buy books and souvenirs available nowhere else.

This year’s open weekend, which celebrated a half century of such events, was a veritable circus of steam interest and fascination which could not fail but to keep the visitor immersed for the day.

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The gala had three miniature railways in operation, and one featured 0-4-2T Tinkerbell, which ran at the first Tyseley open day in 1968. Robin Jones

Indeed, the 1893-built steam carousel outside the entrance, which currently has a starring role with Monty Python star Michael Palin in the opening credits of the big-budget ITV dramatisation of Vanity Fair, set the scene for what lay inside.

Read more and view more images in Issue 247 of HR – on sale now!

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