by Cliff Thomas

'Back to Black' for Cotswold Festival of Steam

Published: 4th May 2014

And more BR Black liveries at Bo’ness May Gala

A fleet of black locos will take centre stage for The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s (GWR) late May gala. The GWR anticipates presenting eight locomotives in steam for its May 24-26 Cotswold Festival of Steam. Starring roles will be filled by the line’s latest resident locomotive, Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd’s (DMLL) newly overhauled No. 7820 Dinmore Manor appearing in a spanking new plain BR black livery, supported by DMLL’s similarly liveried No. 3850 visiting for the gala from the West Somerset Railway.

This will be the first time the two DMLL-owned locos have been together in steam, the ‘Manor’s’ boiler ticket having expired before No. 3850 was returned to steam.

Backing up the 'Back to Black' gala theme will be guest appearances by the Mid-Hants Railway’s ‘Black Five’ No. 45379 and Severn Valley Railway-based Hawksworth Pannier No. 1501. That is far from all the mega-attractions for the event – the gala should also see the debut in public steam for the first time since it left Barry scrapyard of GWR 2-8-0T No. 4270.

Other locos expected to appear are GWR 2-8-0 No. 2807, Prairie No. 5542 and ex-LMS (ex-Turkey) 8F 2-8-0 No. 8247. The latter will run in a plain BR black livery with identity to be announced. In all, quite a line up of motive power and surely heading to be tagged the gala of the month!

The gala will feature a goods train, carrying passengers in brake vans between Toddington and Cheltenham but empty on the Toddington-Laverton section to form a better photographic opportunity. The timetable for each gala day will be the same but with different loco rosters to create variety over the duration of the event.

Why a black ‘Manor’?

No. 7820 Dinmore Manor arrived at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway on February 19 following completion of its overhaul at Tyseley. The big surprise was the decision to complete the ‘Manor’ in early BR plain black livery with large early emblem on the tender.

This is the livery it carried when built in 1950 and the first time such a livery has been carried on a ‘Manor’ since about 1959. This unexpected livery choice contributed to the decision to brand the G-WR’s Cotswold Festival of Steam with a 'Back to Black' theme.

The first 'Manor' was built in 1938 but GWR production stopped when WW2 broke out. Post-nationalisation, a further 10 were constructed in 1950, No. 7820 being the first of these built under BR auspices.

Dinmore Manor previously ran in green, so why the unexpected livery choice? Essentially, it was something of a last minute change of plan inspired by expediency. Although the overhaul of Dinmore Manor was approaching completion at the beginning of 2014, the ‘Manors’ own tender was not going to be ready until later this year.

Initially, an agreement was made to hire the tender from out-of-ticket 2-8-0 No. 3855, which was already black. The logic was to keep costs down by painting No. 7820 to match, then when Dinmore Manor’s own tender was ready it would be finished in green, with the locomotive then also reverting to BR express lined green livery.

As it transpired, No. 3855’s tender needed work to make it serviceable, but DMLL then came up with the idea of hiring the tender from the Bluebell Railway’s out of ticket GWR ‘Dukedog’ 4-4-0 No. 9017 Earl of Berkeley. This tender is not only in good condition and ready to run, but already plain black with a large 1950 BR emblem, so perfectly matched Dinmore Manor’s early BR plain black livery.

No. 9017 Earl of Berkeley was repainted from green into plain black and the BR large logo applied to the tender for its appearance at the April 2009 ‘Steel, Steam and Stars II’ gala at Llangollen. It retained this livery up to withdrawal in mid-2011 and is awaiting overhaul.

And it’s BR black for Bo’ness ‘Shire’ as well

The star turn at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway’s May 31-June 1 ‘Mixed Traffic’ weekend will be the debut of Gresley-designed LNER D49 4-4-0 Morayshire in a new early BR black livery as No. 62712 – the first time the loco has appeared in this form in over 50 years.

Maintained and operated by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway, the D49 is owned by National Museums Scotland.

In addition, the gala will feature the debut following overhaul of Hunslet 0-6-0ST NCB No. 19 (3818/1954). The ‘Austerity’ is being outshopped in the lined livery it carried when working at Comrie Colliery in Fife.

The steam debutants will be backed up by DRS-owned Class 37 diesel No. 37401 Mary Queen of Scots and the SRPS’s Swindon-built Class 126 DMU and Glasgow Blue Train Class 303 EMU.

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