The Great Western Society have the goal of creating a County class locomotive in late British Railways condition that is as authentic as possible recognising the need to satisfy and safety or technical constraints now in place. To achieve this the Great Western Society was granted the ownership of major components parts of two donor locomotives which will form the basis of the reconstruction.
The underframes are from Modified Hall 7927 Willington Hall. The boiler to be rebuilt for the project was taken from Stanier 8F 48518. Whilst it may appear unusual to use a boiler from an LMS design it is worth noting that Hawksworth utilised precisely the same boiler when he built the first County class locomotive in 1945. Modifying the firebox from 48518 does mean that the new locomotive will have a boiler pressure of 225psi rather than the original 280psi (later down rated to 250psi) of the County class.
Many additional parts are required to produce a working County class locomotive. Some of these are available from the stock of standard GWR locomotive parts and some others, including items from scrapped County class locomotives, have been donated by enthusiasts. However, many will have to be manufactured from scratch.
The project has divided into four main phases, but while certain aspects will be given priority at different times, work on all four will continue concurrently:
- Modification of the frames, bogie and brake equipment from the Modified Hall and manufacture of three sets of driving wheels to create a rolling chassis.
- Rebuild the 8F boiler as a Swindon Standard 15 OA (three-row superheater) boiler, add smokebox and double chimney.
- Refurbishment and/or acquisition of the motion, manufacture of fittings and pipe work.
- Construction of a new, all-welded, flat-sided Hawksworth tender.
The name of the locomotive recognises the contribution of Vale of Glamorgan Council and Barry scrap yard (which has provided many standard parts for the new build).
The work on the new build is centred on Didcot Railway Centre.
By August 2016 the frame of the locomotive was sitting on its wheels and its boiler was ready for assembly. At the same time the overhaul of the firebox (donated by 48518) was nearing completion at Crewe.
In 2016 proposals were made to build the locomotive on the Severn Valley Railway with the work being undertaken by an independent group rather than the Great Western Society. This stemmed from a belief that the Great Western Society at Didcot were devoting too much effort to new build projects rather than on the existing fleet of locomotives. The project however, continued at Didcot but initiatives were put in place to try to speed the work of competing the locomotive up so that it could be completed by 2020.
Following the overhaul of the firebox from 48518 at Crewe it is planned to move it to Swanwick, in early 2019, where Heritage Boiler Steam Services are to assemble the boiler. Heritage Boiler Steam Services moved to Huyton in September 2018.
In July 2018 the project team reported on progress on constructing the locomotive.
- The chassis for the locomotive has been re-wheeled.
- The motion of the locomotive was receiving attention but £45,000 was needed to machine the connecting and coupling rods.
- The firebox was complete and a smokebox door had been ordered.
- The boiler does not need to be lowered to meet Network Rail restrictions. It was estimated that the cost of completing the boiler would be £125,000.
- The locomotive is not being fitted with the equipment for mainline running at this stage.
By November 2018 the boiler components had been despatched to Heritage Boiler Steam services and parts for the smokebox had been ordered. At the same time the bottom end was almost ready to accept the rebuilt class 8F boiler although the assembly of the boiler is planned to begin in 2019.
In early 2019 it was forecast that the boiler would be produced within twelve months.
In January 2020 it was announced that a contract had been placed with Tyseley Locomotive Works to complete the inside motions for the locomotive.
The boiler was delivered from Heritage Boiler Steam Services Ltd to Tyseley in July 2022 and fitted to the frames in September of that year. Following some work at Didcot, which includes measuring for the new ashpan and fully securing the smokebox to the rest of the boiler, the boiler will be returned to Heritage Boiler Steam Services Ltd for completion.
There is an agreement in principle for the locom0tive to be based on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway when it is operational.