A STEAM locomotive built in 1924 has been restored after 21 years of volunteer work.
the 4079 Pendennis Castlewhich was one of 10 ‘castle class’ steam locomotives built by Charles Collett, was launched at the Didcot Railway Center on Saturday last week (2).
Lady Judith McAlpine launched the locomotive as her late husband Sir William McAlpine took a “strong interest” in its restoration after owning it for a decade in the 1960s.
It is the first time the locomotive, which could reach speeds of 100 mph, has moved under its own power in around 30 years. the Pendennis Castle has been stored at Didcot since 2001 where a team of volunteers worked on its restoration.
the 4079 Pendennis Castle carried passengers for 40 years until it was retired in 1964. The following year it was purchased for preservation by Mike Higson, a London bookseller and publisher, and it was restored at Swindon Works .
In 1966 the locomotive was sold to the Honorable Sir McAlpine, of Fawley Hill near Henley, and the Honorable John Gretton, of Stapleford Park near Melton Mowbray.
The couple stored it at Didcot and then Carnforth before it left for Britain in 1977 to be operated on a private railway in Australia.
It was moved because Sir McAlpine had business interests with Hamersley Iron, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, which mines iron ore in northwest Australia.
The railway company operated a private railway with over 1,000 miles of track to transport iron ore from the mines to the port of Dampier on the north coast of Australia. Railway operators also used large steam locomotives for leisure travel.
Sir McAlpine was asked to sell them the Flying Scotsmananother locomotive he had acquired in the 70s, but he resold them Pendennis Castle in place.
The locomotive was withdrawn again in 1994 due to problems caused by sand and the new signaling on the railway being incompatible with it.
It was stored for several years and there was talk of putting it on a pedestal. The locomotive was eventually donated to the Great Western Society at the Didcot Railway Center on the condition that it be transferred to Rio Tinto at no cost.
The Great Western Society spent around £47,500 moving the locomotive which was raised by members of the society.
He returned to Didcot in 2001 and the restoration process began. Sir McAlpine was interested in progress but died in 2018 before the restoration was complete.
His widow, Lady Judith McAlpine, agreed to launch Pendennis Castle back in traffic and wore one of Sir William’s hats so he “had a part in the ceremony”.