The 79’s were known as “Greyhounds” by the footplate crew as they seemed to be somewhat fleeter of foot than their earlier classmates. 7903 distinguished itself in 1951 by deputising for a normal Castle class on the Plymouth to Paddington boat-train and was the first locomotive to cover the distance in less than four hours.
This locomotive, like 6998, was built in 1949 at Swindon Works. First shed allocation was Old Oak Common, and it was named after the Derbyshire stately home know a preparatory school for Repton College. It moved from Old Oak Common in October 1963 to Cardiff East Dock where it remained based until withdrawn from service there in June 1964 and sold to Woodhams’ Scrapyard where it arrived in August 1964.
Nearly twenty years later, in June 1981, it was moved to the Blunsdon depot of the Swindon Cricklade Railway in Wiltshire where restoration work began. This followed the payment to Woodhams of a cheque for £10,350 by Foremarke Hall Locomotive Limited in April of that year.
The restoration project was funded by selling ownership shares in the locomotive within the Foremarke Hall Transport Group. Restoration was completed 22 years later in 2003, and the locomotive was used on the Swindon & Cricklade Railway before moving to the nearby Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway in 2004.
It visited the Llangollen Railway in June 2005 and the Severn Valley Railway in September 2005 but has remained based at the GWR.
In 2017 7903 visited Old Oak Common for the final open day at the depot.
It appears in the 2013 Series 1 of the BBC drama Father Brown, episode 1: The Hammer of God.
After being dismantled on site and overhauled at Tyesley works the locomotive re-entered service in May 2016 on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.
|Home Base||Current Status||Owner|
|Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway||Operational||7903LTD|
- 6960 Raveningham Hall
- 6984 Owsden Hall
- 6989 Wightwick Hall
- 6990 Witherslack Hall
- 6998 Buton Agnes Hall
- 7927 Willington Hall