Steam locomotive 4079 Pendennis Castle moves on its own steam

GWR Castle Class No. 4079 Pendennis Castle has moved under its own power for the first time in almost 30 years.

Early in the morning of Saturday 5th February, Didcot Railway Center volunteer Steven Tomsett lit the locomotive fire while fellow volunteers Drew Fermor, Andrew Vaughan and Steven oiled the movement.

When the fire had raised a sufficient steam load, and with Didcot Loco Manager Leigh Drew, Ali Mathews and Drew Fermor on the baseplate, Pendennis Castle moved under its own power.

The recent work is the largest since her restoration at Swindon in 1964 and her return from Australia in 2000. A few small leaks were found which went on a list of snags, but no major issues were detected.

Drew Fermor, Locomotive Restoration Project Manager, said: “Being the first person to have it moved again since 1994 to Australia and since 1977 (when I was just 2!) to the UK, it’s was an incredible privilege. To tell the truth, it all went wonderfully without incident.

“As she rolled out of the shed in front of the crew that brought her back to life, she just ‘gone’. No drama, no issues, just a set of 6′ 8” drive wheels spinning elegantly under that classic Castle shape and just the slightest exhaust note. After arresting her, getting her to safety and passing our congratulations in the taxi, I jumped down and shared what had just happened with team #4079 who had gathered to witness their superb achievement”.

A Pendennis Castle launch event will be held at Didcot Railway Center on 2nd and 3rd April.

Pendennis Castle is in the running for Steam Railway magazine’s annual award at the Heritage Railway Association’s awards ceremony later this year.

The Restoration Project is seeking votes of support, and these can be cast online by February 18 at: http://www.steamrailway.co.uk/the-steam-railway-award

Jose P. Rogers