5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe was out shopped from Swindon works at a cost of £4,848 for the locomotive and £953 for the Collett designed 4000 gallon tender. Originally 5043 was given the name Barbury Castle, after an iron age hilltop fort, five miles south of Swindon. It frequently hauled the GWR’s Cheltenham Flyer, which was then the fastest train in the world.
In 1937, 5043 was renamed Earl of Mount Edgcumbe (Previously carried by Dukedog number 9000) after a GWR Director and it gained a reputation for being an excellent performer on the mainline. Based at London’s Old Oak Common, 5043 was used on trains serving locations such as Devon, Cornwall, the Midlands and the North, and became a favourite amongst the Great Western’s London footplate men.
Six years after nationalisation Earl of Mount Edgcumbe had spells at Carmarthen and Landore over a four year period away from Old Oak Common, during which time it worked London trains such as the Pembroke Coast Express and The Red Dragon. The engine was by this time paired with a Hawksworth flat sided tender.
In the late 1950’s, 5043 was moved back to Old Oak Common for the twilight years of Western Region steam. In May 1958, it was fitted with a double chimney and revised draughting arrangements, which much improved the engine’s efficiency. During this year it was recorded as reaching 98 mph on the up Bristolian express on 5th June 1958.
Earl of Mount Edgcumbe received its last heavy overhaul at Swindon in February 1962, and with the ending of steam in the London area, moved to Cardiff Canton shed where work still remained for steam. In August 1962 Canton closed to steam, and 5043 was moved to Cardiff East Dock with the remaining Cardiff locomotives where it remained in service until December 1963.
Once withdrawn, 5043 was stored until the following spring when it was sold for scrap to Woodham Brothers scrap yard at Barry Island, South Wales. This was going to be the end of the line.
A partial reprieve came in September 1973 when 7029 Clun Castle Limited purchased 5043 to be a source of spares for 7029 Clun Castle. It was moved to Tyseley where many parts were removed for safekeeping and the locomotive ‘hulk’ was stored awaiting its eventual demise.
In the ensuing years seemingly hopeless steam locomotive restoration projects had by then become realistic and achievable. Tyseley Locomotive Works had developed the skills to undertake such massive restoration projects and a study into the feasibility of restoring 5043 to mainline condition was undertaken.
In 1997, Birmingham Railway Museum Trust announced a project to restore Great Western Castle class 4-6-0 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe to main line running condition. Specifications required that the locomotive should be in late 1950’s condition with Hawksworth tender and BR double chimney. The 5043 Restoration Fund was set up to finance the work and 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe was finally reprieved.
On 3rd October 2008, 5043 returned to steam and moved under its own power again after almost 45 years! 5043 returned to the mainline on 16th October 2008, including a light engine run to Shirley. On 19th October 2008, 5043 made a loaded trip from Birmingham Snow Hill to Stratford but on the return trip it was removed from the train at Tyseley as the engineering staff were concerned about a warm axlebox. This problem was attended to in time for ‘The Earl’ to appear in steam, in action as the star of the show at the Tyseley Open Day and its public re-commissioning on 26th October 2008.
Since then the ‘The Earl’ made three mainline appearances in 2008 – to Didcot with stable-mate 4965 Rood Ashton Hall, then solo to Melton Mowbray and then to London Kensington Olympia (and even Clapham Junction!).
To celebrate 175 years of the Great Western Railway, on 17 April 2010, 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe triumphantly headed both down and up Bristolian trains running non-stop between Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads. On the run from Bristol Temple Meads to Paddington it managed the journey in 1 hour 49 minutes at an average speed of 72.8mph. A complete re-enactment of the “The Bristolian” in Western Region days. This resulted in it been given the Railtour of the Year award.
5043 was also received the 2010 Performance of the Year award for hauling 10 bogies plus a ‘dead weight’ class 47 diesel over Ais Gill on 16 October 2010.
In May 2014 It beat the best run between Plymouth and Bristol by more than three minutes when it covered the 127.6 miles in 2 hours 10 minutes and 4 seconds.
The Tyseley based locomotive had a certified to run on mainlines and has a valid boiler certificate until October of 2018.
The locomotive was taken out of service in June 2018 when it was discovered that some work would be required to keep running until October.
It was anticipated that it will be only out of service for three to six months as it was planned to undertake a very quick overhaul. the boiler was not lifted off the frames until August 2020.
In June 2022 it was reported that the locomotive was scheduled to be back on the main line in October 2022.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Tyseley||Under overhaul||7029 Clun Castle Limited|
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