‘Hercules’ destined for Churnet Valley

Dartmouth Steam Railway-based GWR ‘42XX’ No. 4277 ‘Hercules’ is to spend the last few months of its boiler certificate at the Churnet Valley Railway – in BR black.

Back in black - '42XX' No. 4277 was painted in BR black - albeit with the later 'ferret and dartboard' crest - during its previous boiler ticket. The 2-8-0T is pictured at Llangollen. LR ARCHIVES

Back in black - '42XX' No. 4277 was painted in BR black - albeit with the later 'ferret and dartboard' crest - during its previous boiler ticket. The 2-8-0T is pictured at Llangollen. LR ARCHIVES

Expected to arrive at Cheddleton in early October, it will appear for the first time in its new guise at the line’s 25th anniversary gala on October 20-22, marking a quarter-century since the CVR plc was formed on October 30 1992.

It will then stay to work ‘Santa Specials’, and ‘Winter Warmer’ trains between Christmas and the New Year. Its boiler certificate expires on Saturday February 10, when a special farewell day on the Cauldon Lowe branch is planned.

It is the first time a locomotive owned by the DSR has gone on medium or long-term loan to another railway. Only ‘Manor’ No. 7827 Lydham Manor has made guest appearances elsewhere, and then only for gala weekends.

It will be a welcome reappearance on the hire circuit by No. 4277, which toured preserved lines under the ownership of Peter Best between 1996 and 2003, but has stayed in Devon since the DSR acquired it in 2008.

The repaint at the CVR, from its current lined Great Western livery, will be the first time it has worn BR black since the final years of its previous boiler ticket. This time, however, it will have the earlier ‘cycling lion’ crest instead of the late ‘ferret and dartboard’ that it carried on that occasion. Its DSR ‘Hercules’ nameplates will also be removed.

It will be the first GWR 2-8-0T to tackle the 1-in-40 gradients of the Cauldon Lowe branch to Ipstones, which had not reopened when a previous guest example – Pete Waterman’s ‘5205’ No. 5224 – was at the CVR in 2002.

Working alongside it at the 25th anniversary gala will be a second GWR-design engine - ‘Manor’ No. 7820 Dinmore Manor, which will also be the first of its class to work up the Ipstones line. It is the first ‘Manor’ to appear on the CVR since 2007, when No. 7821 Ditcheat Manor – a resident at Cheddleton for two years – was withdrawn on the expiry of its boiler certificate.

Also in action will be resident ‘S160’ 2-8-0s Nos. 5197 and 6046, and Polish ‘TKh’ 0-6-0T No. 2944 ‘Hotspur’, the latter returning to service after an intermediate overhaul which is currently getting underway.

Two Mk 1 Tourist Second Opens are being hired from the North Norfolk Railway until February 2018 to supplement the home-based carriage fleet – allowing 10-coach trains to be operated on both evenings of the gala.

For more information, visit: https://www.churnet-valley-railway.co.uk/news/4277hire