THE 4079 STORY
class locos in concept – and handrails to go with them to improve access to the smokeboxend. At the same time as this work was done, the exhaust injector was replaced with a brandnew live steam example made by Gresham & Craven and purchased from Westrail. The steam feed for the exhaust injector was used to power the turbo-generator. The modifi cations were completed in 1980. Pendennis Castle made its fi rst trips out to Tom Price and Paraburdoo in September that year and put in a fi ne performance, proving easily capable of taking the three heavy coaches and loaded gin up the 1-in-50 inclines. A number of tours over the HI system followed during that season, but operating problems began to plague the loco shortly after, so the GWR live steam injector was overhauled using parts supplied by UK fi rm Hugh Phillips Engineering. Eventually, it was decided to replace that too with a Gresham & Craven live steam ejector, in 1981. The few trips that year culminated in a disappointing run in September – a 500-mile run from Dampier to Paraburdoo with the engine short of steam and struggling from the start. Afterwards, excessive ash was discovered in the smokebox and the superheater fl ue and small boiler tubes were leaking in several places. It was thought that poor grade coal was part of the problem, combined with the fact that the petticoat pipe was misaligned, so despite all of the hard work, ‘Pendennis’ lay dormant throughout the 1982 season. At the end of that year, John Lyas took over as head of the 4079 maintenance team and inherited a situation in which there were only six qualifi ed steam drivers on HI’s books. That, combined with union and scheduling issues, meant that it was diffi cult to muster crews for regular steam trips anyway, so the PRHS council secured from the Federated Engine Drivers & Firemens Union an undertaking that crews, when not on duty with their regular job, could volunteer for PRHS trains whenever they desired – which meant zero crew expenses! The situation came to a head, however, when the fi rst trip for 12 months had to be cancelled in early 1983 due to no crew being available. It was at about that time that HI railway manager Ian Williams became interested in the loco. He was of the same opinion as the PRHS – that 4079 was actually a greatly-underused publicity asset. He gave John Lyas the opportunity to spend time during his working shifts in order to keep the engine in good order. Pendennis Castle was revived with a series
No. 4079 TIMELINE
AUSSIE ADVENTURE UNFOLDS: A quick potted history of how one of the most unlikely scenarios in British locomotive history developed . . .
Above: Up she goes! Eighty tons of Swindon’s fi nest is swung out over Sydney Harbour on July 14, 1977, about to touch Australian soil for the fi rst time after unloading from the m.v. Mishref. R. BREMNER
“The desert water supplies were all laced with minerals – the kiss of death to a locomotive boiler”
of shuttles between Seven Mile and Dampier on April 10, which saw it haul fi ve trains across the salt fl ats at 65mph, carrying a total of 830 people. During the next few months, a series of 108km runs to Camp Curlewis went well until May when, while slogging up the Chichester Ranges, three superheater elements began leaking. The loco made it to its destination but had insuffi cient water to get back home. The train was returned to base by diesel and the engine taken to works, where John Lyas and his team fabricated and fi tted new elements. Another issue concerned coal. A large supply of suitable coal delivered with the loco
Sir Russell Madigan, a director of Rio Tinto Zinc, acts on a promise to acquire a steam loco for his Pilbara employees to operate – and buys Carnforth-based Pendennis Castle from Sir William McAlpine.
Left: Before setting out from Britain, the engine rests on board the Panama-registered Mishref in Avonmouth docks on June 2, 1977. Few British enthusiasts expected to see the loco in the UK ever again. TERRY NICHOLLS
back in 1977 was, not surprisingly, beginning to run low during the middle of 1983. Local coal had a very low calorifi c value and clinkering was becoming a problem. As there were no ashpits on the HI network, the problems this caused cannot be underestimated. Eventually, a source of suitable coal was found in New South Wales at just £18.50 per ton, but when the cost of transporting it 3,000 miles across Australia was taken into account, the price rose to £125 per ton! Quipped a PRHS member: “The stuff’s too dear to burn!” A number of runs were made that year including more Dampier shuttles and a run to Paraburdoo. At the start of the season, the baffl es in the tender were discovered to be thin and corroded. Whilst ‘Pendennis’ was running during the winter, a new set was fabricated. These were fi tted during the summer of 1983 and the inside of the tank was coated with a zinc-based product that proved very effective. The year 1984 was to be a turning point in the life of the GW 4-6-0 in Australia as the running problems got worse and worse. This came to a head while on a railtour to Tom Price in October of that year when the brakes
After 12 rather chequered years in the Australian desert, No. 4079 leaves the Pilbara Railway to work a memorable series of main line trains in the Perth area with visiting A3 No. 4472 Flying Scotsman.
38 • The Railway Magazine • April 2009 Above: The very last operational run ‘down under’, in 1994. LINDSAY MORRISON
Right: After withdrawal in Australia. Note the large headlight. PETER WARD COLLECTION.
Left: How The RM broke the world exclusive that 4079 could be coming home. The initial news scoop in the October 1999 issue was followed by a successful repatriation appeal.
Above: The first unlikely meeting: During the 1925 interchange trials, No. 4079 lines up with Gresley Pacific No. 4475 Flying Fox at the LNER’s King’s Cross shed.
Left: The second unlikely meeting: During the 1989 tour of Australia by Gresley Pacific No. 4472 Flying Scotsman, a similar remarkable scene was re-enacted in the city of Perth. MIKE HUDSON
bound on and the loco had to be pushed the last few miles to Wombat Junction by a diesel locomotive. The shame of it all! A decision was taken by the members of the PRHS that it was time to solve the problems once and for all. The boiler was thus lifted, new foundation ring rivets and a new brick arch were fitted, tubes were re-beaded, stays were ultrasonically tested and the boiler underwent a hydraulic exam. The brake ejector was overhauled and the regulator re-lapped. All the glands on both the valves and pistons were refurbished. Finally, a full repaint in polyurethane paint was undertaken and a set of GWR transfers were specially imported from the UK to finish the job off. It wasn’t a full overhaul – the last of those had been done by British Railways back in
1961 (intermediate) and 1959 (general) – but it was nevertheless a big job and it wasn’t until August 1987 that the loco was back in action, just in time for perhaps its greatest moment in Australia – the reunion with Flying Scotsman in 1988. The two iconic locomotives had stood together at the 1925 British Empire exhibition and had been in each other’s company several times in the 1960s and ’70s, notably at Market Overton and Carnforth sheds, but no-one could have predicted this! The LNER A3 was touring Australia as part of the country’s bicentennial celebrations and had not originally been due to visit Western Australia. However, Ian Willis, the owner of an Australian engineering firm, decided to make it possible. He masterminded a project that involved Pendennis Castle and its
gin being transported hundreds of miles by low-loader to Perth and ‘Scotsman’ making the marathon journey across the Nullabor plain – setting a new world record for non-stop steam haulage in the process. Willis purchased a rake of coaches to enable both locos to haul trains in the Perth area. There were times when the two locomotives were double-heading and others when they were allowed to run side-by-side with one pulling ahead and then, in turn, the other taking its place in order that the passengers of both trains could see the locomotives in action – pure magic! After the extravaganza, No. 4079 returned to the Pilbara but was used less and less despite the best efforts of Lyas and his band of volunteers. The amount of freight traffic on the line had increased substantially and the loco
Following a tip-off and introduction from The Railway Magazine, the Great Western Society begins behindthe-scenes negotiations with Rio Tinto that lead to the loco being donated to the Didcot-based group.
1999 2000 Faced with the global recession and Rio Tinto’s consequent decision not to make a major financial contribution, the GW Society goes it alone and launches an appeal to complete the restoration.
On March 12, the Heritage Lottery Fund takes the allimportant decision to back the project. Pendennis Castle leaves Australia on April 25 and arrives in the UK after an epic 12-week, 21,629-mile sea voyage.
April 2009 • The Railway Magazine • 39