Didcot to spend £300k overhauling first engine

By Jonathan Webb and Robin Jones

The Great Western Society is gearing up for its 60th anniversary in 2021 and has announced that Collett 0-4-2T No. 1466 is to be overhauled in time for the big event.

The locomotive was the first to be acquired by the GWS, along with auto coach No. 231, so it is fitting
that it should be returned to steam for the anniversary.

No. 1466 is also a rare example of a locomotive which broke BR’s post-August 11, 1968 main line steam ban.

Before the ban was imposed, the GWS had already obtained permission for it and auto trailer No. 231 to operate a service on the Cholsey to Wallingford branch on September 21, 1968, and BR kept its word. Several thousand passengers rode from Cholsey station to the ABM sidings at Wallingford.

The band formerly known as Buck’s Fizz, which won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1981, and now reformed as The Fizz, was filmed at Didcot Railway Centre on November 1 for a forthcoming video to be released this year alongside an album of Christmas hits. Pictured are original members Jay Aston, Mike Nolan and Cheryl Baker with prairie No. 4144. In its 50 years of operation, Didcot has been host to hundreds of production companies and can be spotted as the backdrop for countless films and TV shows. Notable examples include the Academy Award-winning film The Danish Girl, Dan Cruickshank’s documentary series Great Railway Adventures, Anna Karenina starring Keira Knightley and BBC Two comedy Thank You, Comrades starring Sir Ben Kingsley and David Howey. FRANK DUMBLETON

No. 1466 is due to leave Didcot by road on November 11. Timeline Events is organising a last chance to photograph the locomotive in BR black before departure on November 17.

The overhaul will be carried out at the Dean Forest Railway by Western Steam Engineering Ltd and will include repair or replacement of the cylinder block, axleboxes, brake gear, valve gear, motion and plate work – including new bunker, repair of water tanks and manufacture of ashpan.

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