Last year, Great Western Railway staged an open day at Long Rock depot, Penzance in April, raising money for the Penlee Lifeboat station and the RNLI.
Enthusiasts and the general public were able to see a number of GWR and visiting locos, plus have a look inside the maintenance shed, which was enlarged last year as the new base for the ‘Night Riviera’ fleet following closure of Old Oak Common depot at the London end of the line.
Despite being the most westerly main line depot – not just on the GWR network but on mainland Britain as a whole – many turned out for the rare chance to see behind the scenes at the depot, which handles loco-hauled stock, HSTs, DMUs and the new IETs.
The overnight sleeper from Paddington, hauled by No. 57605, was packed with enthusiasts – while Pathfinder ran a tour from Tame Bridge Parkway to Penzance that day, featuring DRS locos No. 88003+68034 (see also railtours news).
The GWR fleet was represented by Nos. 08410/645, 43002/042/162/185, and 57602/604/605. The previous day had seen Nos. 47306 (looking resplendent in a new coat of Railfreight Distribution livery) and 50042 travel from the Bodmin & Wenford Railway via Liskeard behind No. 57306 (which that night hauled the up sleeper to Paddington), while GBRf’s No. 66714 hauled Nos. 73107, 50007 and 50049 for display. GWR’s steam past was represented by GWR 0-6-0PT No. 4612 and cut-down Bagnall Port of Par 0-4-0ST Alfred (taken by road from Bodmin) plus Collett 0-6-0 No. 3205 (from the South Devon Railway).
During the event, the driving cars of bi-mode No. 802008 were named RNLB Solomon Browne (after the Penlee Lifeboat that tragically went down with all hands on December 19, 1981 while on duty during a storm) and Rick Rescorla (locally born Rick lost his life while saving the lives of others during the = attacks on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001).
Depot shunter No. 08645 was unveiled in a new livery of black with a large white cross, representing the Cornish flag of St Piran, after which it was also named.
The day after the open day, GBRf locos Nos. 66714 and 73107 stopped off at the Bodmin & Wenford Railway to work passenger trains – the ‘73’ reaching the site of former Southern Railway metals at Boscarne Junction!
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