Swindon’s STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway tries to give visitors an impression of what Swindon was like during it’s heydays in the past. One of the exhibits – 42xx class 4248 is displayed as a dismantled steam locomotive, if it was in the works.
The 42xx are a behemoth of a tank engine and very impressive, particularly when you consider it was built in 1916. 4248 is one of five survivors of the class, although there are further three of the modified 5205 class (including 5239) and three of the even bigger 72xx 2-8-2T class. Given these numbers it is fairly understandable that this was chosen to be preserved in this condition.
That said, I have to confess that there is a part of me that would like to see this locomotive looking a little more complete (or better still, in working order). Although it is currently serving an educational service, I can’t help but feel that a trip to any preserved railway and a look at real ongoing restorations/overhauls would given a better idea of what an engine works looks, sounds and smells like than this museum exhibit.
Two members of the class – 4247 and 4277 are in working condition. Another 4253 is under restoration at Rolvenden works on the Kent and East Sussex Railway and the 4253 Locomotive Company Limited are working hard to restore it back into running order. Their website (click here) is well worth exploring and if you can spare a few pounds to the cause I’m sure it will be much appreciated!