The last steam locomotive to be built for British Railways, No. 92220 Evening Star, returns to the place she was built on Wednesday 3 September.
Unfortunately she won't arrive by train herself, but will make an equally dramatic appearance – tons of metal brought by road on a low loader from York wher she will be carefully and slowly inserted into STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway. See details below.
The famous locomotive comes to STEAM on loan from the National Railway Museum in York where she has been on display for some 30 years.
Well loved by railway enthusiasts and all those who have fond memories associated with steam railways, Evening Star is expected to attract thousands of visitors from all over the world. It is also hoped that many of the men and women who helped build her, or who travelled on her, will come to STEAM to share their memories with other visitors.
Locomotive No. 6000 King George V, which currently rests on the Station Platform at STEAM, will be going to the NRM in York for display there.
Councillor Justin Tomlinson, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Recreation, said: “It is fantastic that this great locomotive – with so many stories to tell – will be returning home to Swindon and displayed at STEAM on the Swindon Works site where she was built. We are very grateful to the National Railway Museum for giving STEAM this marvellous opportunity to refresh the Collection in such a significant way.”
Helen Ashby of the National Railway Museum commented: “One of the aims of the NRM is to make the national collection accessible to the broadest possible audience. One of the ways we can do this is by displaying exhibits in different places throughout the country. We are delighted that Evening Star will have the opportunity to return to Swindon and that King George V will visit York so that both locomotives can be seen in a different setting and a different context. It also gives people who are not able to travel to visit our museums, the opportunity to enjoy their heritage”.
Evening Star will make her journey to Swindon by road, following a short visit to the NRM’s Shildon facility for routine maintenance work. She will be moved into STEAM’s main exhibition area to take pride of place on the Museum’s beautifully reconstructed Station Platform. New character figures from the 1960s will be there to welcome her.
Visitors will have the chance to climb into the cab and get a feel for what it was like to drive the magnificent locomotive.
Inside the Station Platform area there will also be a Special Exhibition celebrating Evening Star. This will complement ‘Changing Trains: the Journey from Steam to Diesel’ exhibition that runs until December this year.
Evening Star will also take centre stage at the Swindon Railway Festival held at STEAM on 13 and 14 September.
Anyone who has memories of Evening Star and would be interested in taking part in an event to celebrate the locomotive, should contact Hellen Barnes or Ian Surtees at STEAM on 01793 466602/466619, or by email to email@example.com
FULL STEAM AHEAD FOR EVENING STAR’S RETURN
The mammoth job of transporting the 130-ton locomotive along the 250-mile route from there is the responsibility of West Midlands-based Moveright International, a haulier with more than 20 years’ experience of moving heavy loads, whose speciality is the transport of large steam locomotives.
The firm will use an 80-ft, 24-wheeled low-loader trailer, pulled by an 18-wheel tractor unit to transport Evening Star, plus a 10-wheeled truck pulling a 64-ft, 12-wheel trailer for the loco’s tender. Along with its escort of two of the firm’s cars, the convoy will travel at about 30mph on level ground, slower on hills. The journey will mostly be on motorways and is expected to take at least nine hours.
The Route: The convoy will leave Shildon early on Wednesday, September 3, and head for the A1(M) and M1, then the A42, M42, M40, A34 and M4, exiting at Junction 16 (Swindon west). From there she will travel along the A3102 (Great Western Way), and should arrive at STEAM inKemble Drive on Wednesday afternoon – hopefully around 5pm, although this is subject to change.
The final stage of the operation will see the locomotive loaded on to the former Swindon Railway Works traverser, outside STEAM, for manoeuvring into position through large doors on the north-west end of the building. However, before this, four large exhibits have to be removed to make way, including the King George V and its tender. This part of the operation is scheduled to take around 16 hours.
Even when Evening Star is in place, the haulier’s job is only half done. During Evening Star’s stay in Swindon, King George V will be the guest of honour at the National Railway Museum, so will undertake almost the same journey as Evening Star, but in reverse, as she makes her way to York.
Moveright International have previously moved Evening Star four times and this will also be the third time that the firm have moved King George V. They were responsible for moving and installing all the exhibits when STEAM opened in 2001, and for the Return to Swindonexhibition in 1990. This latest project is another labour of love for managing director Andrew Goodman, who is a fan of railways in general and the Great Western Railway in particular. He said: “There are only two railways in the world: the GWR and the rest.”