Thursday, 8 February 2018

Thornbury Castle and Williton

We had a great day out today. Built in 1949, Castle class locomotive 7027 "Thornbury Castle" is currently owned by Jon Jones-Pratt and lives at the Crosville Bus Deport in Weston. Today we had a visit to Weston to see the locomotive and to launch the initiative.

The railway has agreed that Jon can restore the locomotive at Williton on the West Somerset Railway, subject to detailed negotiation. This is a great opportunity for the railway. This is a locomotive in ex-Barry condition that has never run in preservation. It is a locomotive that enthusiasts will never have travelled behind. Jon can bring a huge amount of publicity to the railway and his intention is to team up with Bridgwater College to provide engineering apprenticeships. The young people at the college need work experience projects and the opportunity to work on this locomotive is a very special one. It might be that components for the locomotive will be manufactured at the college or that the apprentices will come at work at Williton under supervision to learn their trade on the locomotive itself. When completed, we will have the prospect of a brand new Castle class engine working the line from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead. Thornbury Castle will be restored to mainline condition and so it is possible that you may be able to travel from Paddington to Minehead, safely snuggled into a cosy seat, rejoicing in the fact that its 'rather a relief to be hauled by steam'. Lots of detail to be worked out yet, but all being well the engine should be with us early in September for work to start. Here are some pictures I took today.

This is the locomotive in its current home at Crosville:

This is what we are going to rebuild:

7027 Thornbury Castle at Swindon Works

As part of the day, we had a guided tour of Bridgwater College. What a place! It looks rather like a formula one car workshop. Here are some pictures:

Later we visited the Hinkley C construction site. Biggest building site in Europe. Absolutely amazing!
Lots more info to come in due course!

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