2999 Lady of Legend
The idea to use parts from a 4900 Hall class locomotive at Barry and convert it to a 2900 Saint class was first put to the Great Western Society Management Council in 1971. This was based on the logic that 2925 was converted to a prototype Hall and that there should be sufficient parts from 4900 class locomotives at Barry. It was also though that 4300 class 7325 could provide the cylinders. At this time it was considered that the difficulties involved at the same time as restoring other locomotives was too much to take on.
Two years later Peter Chatman agreed a price of £4,000 for 4942 Maindy Hall with the tender from 7903 Foremarke Hall which would become a spare 4,000 gallon tender at Didcot. The tender for the Saint was to come from 7808 Cookham Manor.
The motion of 4942 was dismantled at Barry and shipped to Didcot by road. Remedial work was undertaken at Barry to enable 4942 to be moved by rail to Didcot. In 1974 4942 Maindy Hall moved to Didcot along with 3738, 4144 and 7202 hauled by class 47 diesel Titan.
An appeal was launched in 1982 to raise £150,000 to create a Saint class locomotive as it was evident that the Great western Society could not fund it alone. Later that year it became clear that the funds would not be provided and donations were returned and the project mothballed.
The Saint Project was relaunched in 1995 and funds raised amounted to £70,000 within three months. It was agreed that the wheels and cylinders should be manufactured before 4942 was dismantled.
After much consideration it was agreed that the rebuild would result in a locomotive which was representative of the 2901 – 2910 Ladies batch of the Saint class. This would provide advantages features such as boiler top feed. Many of the drawings required were available within the Great Western Society and many of these related directly to the prototype number 98.
The locomotive was to be built to a standard which would allow for main line running on Network Rail. It was also decided that the build should enable the rebuilt locomotive to run as a 4-4-2 as well as a 4-6-0.
By the end of 2001the dismantling of 4942 was almost complete. Riley and Son at Bury were subsequently involved in work on the frames and boiler. What should be considered now as 2999 returned from Bury to Didcot in 2006. What is now considered restoration work is continuing at Didcot Railway Centre.
In choosing a name and number for the new Saint the Great Western Society faced something of a dilemma: What identity should a new locomotive carry to set it apart from its historical forebears, yet at the same time remain appropriate and in keeping with GWR naming policy for the class?
As the decision had already been taken that the new Saint would be of the early straight-frame type the next logical numbers available were 2991 or 2999 – the latter was chosen as being more distinctive. The name, Lady of Legend, was chosen for 2999 as it was in line with other members of the class but would also set it apart. Once in service it is likely that 2999 will carry a variety of different identities, not least when it is running as a 4-4-2.
In October 2015 the boiler overhaul was completed and passed a cold examination by the insurers.
It was planned that the locomotive would be completed in 2017 but this date was put back to 2018 during 2017. It was anticipated that the boiler would be placed on the frames at the end of 2017.
By September 2017 the boiler had been prepared for hydraulic and steam testing and the tests were successfully undertaken in the following month.
During November 2017 three out of frame steam tests were undertaken successfully with the boiler pressure be brought up to the full pressure of 225psi. This was the first time the donor boiler from 4942 Maindy Hall had steamed since it was withdrawn from service in 1963. The ten year boiler certificate period has thus started.
It will appear initially in British Railways black livery but this will only be for a few days for photo charters to raise funds to complete the work on the engine.
By early 2018 the chimney (complete with halo copper cap), smokebox door and safety valve had been fitted.
It had been thought possible that the locomotive would be in steam late in 2018 if enough volunteer effort was available but it was later confirmed that it would not be in steam until 2019.
In November 2018 a virtually complete locomotive was unveiled at Didcot. The next task was to have the boiler in the frames.
In March 2019 the locomotive was steamed for the first time (although it did not move under its own power) as a complete locomotive prior to its public launch the following month.
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