Counting their blessings

As the Churchward County Trust celebrates its first anniversary, project leader Gary Boyd-Hope explains more about the scheme to build GWR 4-4-0 No. 3840 County of Montgomery and the Trust’s successes of the past year.

NOVEMBER 13, 2018 was a pretty ordinary day for the majority of the UK population. It was largely overcast everywhere, with Brexit and a jungle-based reality TV show dominating the news headlines. Yet for the Churchward County Trust, it was a day of huge significance – a day that saw the first frame plates for a Great Western Railway County class 4-4-0 cut in 107 years.

Churchward ‘County’ 4-4-0 No. 3829 County of Merioneth of the 1911-12 batch is seen at an unknown location circa 1922 in the condition which the new No. 3840 County of Montgomery will be turned out when completed. RAIL PHOTOPRINTS

Not since 1911 had anyone witnessed the ‘birth’ of one of George Jackson Churchward’s enigmatic 38XXs, and as I stood there watching as the first of the plates was lifted from the plasma cutter, I couldn’t help thinking how lucky I was to be there. After all, few people in this day and age get to see the frames of a brand new standard gauge steam locomotive being cut.

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CCT directors Richard Croucher (left), David Bradshaw and Gary Boyd-Hope with the wheel pattern for No. 3840’s coupled wheels. The pattern had previously been used to cast the six drivers of No. 2999 Lady of Legend. CHURCHWARD COUNTY TRUST

Yet what made the events of November 13 even more significant was they came just nine months after the project to build County of Montgomery was launched in Heritage Railway’s sister title, The Railway Magazine. It was a just reward for those who had pledged their financial support to the fledgling scheme, and justification in their belief that a new County 4-4-0 will run once again on the railways of Great Britain.

Yet while the CCT’s project to build the new 4-4-0 – No. 3840 County of Montgomery – is only just a year old, the concept of filling this gap in the ranks of preserved GWR locomotives goes back over 14 years.

Read more and view more images in Issue 252 of HR – on sale now!

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt