‘King’ returns to Didcot after successful summer season

SINGLE-chimney Collett ‘King’ No. 6023 King Edward II returned to Didcot Railway Centre on October 15 following seven months away on hire to other heritage railways.

After visits to the Severn Valley and Gloucestershire Warwickshire railways in the spring, the ‘King’ spent a highly successful four months on hire at the Dartmouth Steam Railway.

It had originally been intended No. 6023 would mainly operate during September, but instead the BR blue 4-6-0 worked for just under 60 days, and largely continuously since early August. In total the loco covered 3,300 miles, officially completing its running-in requirement.

No. 6023 King Edward II and its 420-ton loaded test train snake past Waterside caravan park with the 15.10 Kingswear-Paignton Queens Park on September 29. D W V HUNT

The extended stay in Devon allowed the GWS to undertake further testing of the ‘King’s’ modified draughting on September 29-30. During the weekend King Edward II successfully handled a 420-ton load (11 coaches plus ‘dead’ Class 25 No. D7535) out of Kingswear station, and also managed to lift the train away from Greenway Halt from a standing start.

No. 6023’s impressive performance has even led one GWS commentator to say that had these draughting improvements been available to British Railways, then it is entirely feasible the class would not need to have been rebuilt with double chimneys.

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