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Quainton News Archive - Quainton News No. 16 - June 1973

GWR King Class 4-6-0 No. 6024 King Edward I

To Restore A Great Western King ....

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P I Clarke - The King arrives at Quainton
P I Clarke - Old Oak Common, 25th October, 1959

Long ago, would the distant sound of a King have been carried on the west wind from Brill tunnel? As a King roared northwards on a Birmingham two hour express did Quainton hear that thrilling tone on the quiet night air?

Maybe so, maybe not! But a Group has joined us at Quainton who are determined to bring that whistle to life once again on the boiler of a King. We welcome the arrival of 6024 ' King Edward I', saved from scrap and brought from Barry by road on the last day of March. We also welcome the King Preservation Society, formed in April last year and now with over 100 members.

Chris Tankard, their Secretary told me their story. It was his idea to have a boiler inspection made of 6024 while the group working on a GWR 2-8- 0, 2857, were preparing their engine for a similar job. Many helpful people gave advice and the inspection reports were good. BR engineers agreed that the engine was basically sound. Swindon's records were consulted. Repair histories were checked. The outcome was a decision to go ahead with an appeal fund. The response was gratifying and within nine months King Edward was saved and a home for the noble giant was required. Early in March our Executive Committee considered and approved the application for the locomotive to come to Quainton.

Loading on to Wynn's 48 Wheeled trailer at Woodham's yard started on Monday 26th March. Seventy or more tons of locomotive is a heavy job and the journey was slow and difficult. It included two breakdowns, one being a bearing failure on the trailer. The route was through Newport and Chepstow to Gloucester, then to Witney, along the Oxford bypass, through Thame to Aylesbury and finally an unusual diversion via Whitchurch to Waddesdon before the 'home straight' to Quainton. On April 1st, 6024 rested on QRS metals in the up yard and the King was a great attraction for our Easter, visitors, joining 'Bodmin' to create a picture of the power and majesty of 'main line' steam.

The amount of work to restore the King to working order is staggering and the cost of buying or making missing parts will be enormous. A £10,000 appeal fund is now being advertised in the railway press. But if nothing is attempted nothing will be done. The prospects are exciting. Another tender is being sought, probably one used at Old Oak Common for waste oil. The King Preservation Society are taking active steps to adjust their constitution so that they can give practical effect to obtaining a charity status. King Edward I will then have an assured future with no commercial overtones and it will have been well worthwhile to succeed in the valiant effort 'To Restore a Great Western King.'

The history of the famous King class 4-6-0's of the Great Western Railway is too well known to justify repetition here but a short summary of the life of 6024 King Edward I is probably of interest. The engine was built at Swindon Works in June 1930 as one of the last the last ten of the class, (6020-9) under Lot267. The enlarged four cylinder 4-6- 0 was developed from the earlier Star and Castle classes and its power and performance re-established the prestige of the GWR as a leader of British express passenger locomotive design.

6024 worked for much of its life on West of England main line trains to and from Paddington, and appeared quite regularly on the Cornish Riviera Express. For example, on Whit Tuesday, 1932, King Edward I was noted leaving London on that train with a load of fifteen coaches. Newton Abbot was the shed of 6024 in 1938 and he was still there in 1947. In February, 1949, a transfer was made to Plymouth, Laira on a reorganisation of rosters but the duties of the locomotive remained the same. A new Type WB boiler was fitted at Swindon in September 1953, and this boiler had a four row 'Melesco' superheater which required mechanical lubrication of cylinders and valves instead of the original sight feed type originally fitted.

In January 1956 the front bogie was strengthened as they were on all other Kings, while in February 1957 an elliptical double chimney was fitted.

King Edward's activities were affected by the onslaught of the diesel and his final duties were on Cardiff trains. Withdrawal came in June 1962 when the Hymek diesels took over the Red Dragon and The Capitals United expresses. 6024 had run for over 1¼ million miles, and there is a new future for this worthy locomotive with our Society at Quainton.

The text in this Quainton Railway Society publication was written in 1973 and so does not reflect events in the 40+ years since publication. The text and photographs are repeated verbatim from the original publication, with only a few minor grammar changes but some clarifying notes are added if deemed necessary. The photos from the original publication are provided as scans in this internet version of this long out of print publication.

To Restore A Great Western King .... - Quainton News No. 16 - June 1973

Text © Quainton Railway Society / Photographs © Quainton Railway Society or referenced photographer
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