GWR to host Foremarke Hall
16 February 2004
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway will become 'home' to
GWR-designed Modified Hall class 4-6-0 no. 7903 Foremarke Hall in
April, following an overhaul that has lasted nearly 25 years.
Foremarke Hall was one of the last batch of 79xx 'Modified Hall'
class engines built at Swindon Works and although every inch a
Great Western thoroughbred, it was completed by British Railways in
1949. It is set to become the only survivor of the 79xx series. The
only other remaining member of the class is 7927 Willington Hall,
which is expected to become the donor engine for the new 'Grange'
and 'County' class locomotives.
The Modified Hall class enjoyed a reputation for fast running.
No 7903 distinguished itself in 1951 when, deputising for the
booked 'Castle' on a Paddington-Plymouth boat train, became the
first locomotive to cover the distance in less than four hours.
Foremarke Hall Transport Group (FHTG) bought the engine in 1981
when it became the 129th locomotive to leave Barry Scrapyard. It
moved close to its place of birth at Blunsdon, on the Swindon &
Cricklade Railway and, over the years, has been painstakingly
restored. In September 2003 it steamed for the first time since
withdrawal from Cardiff East Dock depot in 1964. No. 7903 will take
a starring role in the S & C's Easter services before moving to
Says FHTG Chairman Jim Clarke: "Although the Swindon &
Cricklade railway have kindly hosted us all these years, at present
the line is only one mile long. So we have been looking for a
railway that would enable no. 7903 to 'stretch its legs' and the
Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway was an obvious choice. The S
& C have been very understanding and we will always regard the
line as out spiritual home.
"Our view is that the GWR is a line that is really going places
and its two recent major award wins prove that. And it's not too
far for our own volunteers to come to see their handiwork in
Ian Crowder, the GWR's commercial director, says: "We're
thrilled the owners of Foremarke Hall have chosen our line as their
home for the foreseeable future. It will replace no. 6960
Raveningham Hall which is now out of ticket, as a mainstay of our
"We expect Foremarke Hall to arrive by road during April and it
will star in our Spring Gala, along with visiting 2-6-2T no. 5199
from Llangollen, over the weekend of 7th, 8th and 9th May. We're
styling the event as a 'celebration of Swindon steam'."
7903 is named after Foremarke Hall, the prep. school for Repton
College. SR Schools class 4-4-0 Repton, masquerading as classmate
Cheltenham, visited the GWR for the grand opening of the railway's
southern extension in April 2003, when HRH The Princess Royal
opened Cheltenham Race course station.
further details of the locomotive, click here and select