The owners of ex-GWR ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 no. 4936 ‘Kinlet Hall’, and the West Somerset Railway are pleased to confirm that the locomotive will return to the WSR upon completion of its current heavy overhaul at Tyseley Locomotive Works.
Hall class locomotive No. 4936 'Kinlet Hall' was built by the Great Western Railway in June 1929 at Swindon Works, to a design by C. B. Collett. One of a class that would eventually number 300, the Hall was designed as a general purpose engine and, during a career spanning 30 years, carried out sterling work for the Great Western Railway and later, British Railways.
The origins of the Hall class date back to 1924 when Saint Class loco No. 2925 was taken into Swindon Works to be rebuilt with larger driving wheels, a lowered boiler and a 'Castle' style cab. The result was the prototype for the versatile and powerful mixed traffic 'Hall' class.
In the course of her 34-year career in normal mainline service, Kinlet Hall ran a total of 1,339,061 miles, covering the length and breadth of the GWR network. She led a nomadic existence, being initially allocated to Chester shed and transferring to Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, Oxford, Banbury, Old Oak Common, Truro, Plymouth and Cardiff. It was during her time in the West Country that Kinlet Hall achieved the unfortunate distinction of falling into a bomb crater following a heavy bombing raid on Plymouth in 1941, causing extensive damage to the bogie and main frames. Damage was severe but, such was the shortage of locomotives during the war, subsequent speedy repairs were carried out at Newton Abbot. Damage was so severe that it is remarkable that repairs were affected at all and the locomotive still carried within its frames evidence of the extent of work required.
Kinlet Hall ended her career with British Railways in South Wales on December 28th 1963 and was eventually sold as scrap on 15th January 1964 to Messrs Woodham Brothers at Barry Island. The locomotive therefore has the unusual distinction of having been saved from both the might of the Luftwaffe and the cutter's torch. 4936 languished in the South Wales scrapyard for 15 years before being bought by a private consortium in 1979 and a long journey back to working order began.
Holding the dubious record of spending longer under restoration than in service with GWR/BR, the first successful steam test of the restored locomotive for 36 years occurred on 16th February 2000 at the Birmingham Railway Museum, Tyseley, West Midlands. Kinlet Hall achieved mainline certification on 8th June 2000. The locomotive has since revisited many of its old haunts, having visited Old Oak Common, Swindon, Newport, Newton Abbot and the South West including Penzance.
Following a 10 year operational period in private ownership, the locomotive was once again withdrawn for a General Overhaul in November 2009, having run a further 22,154 miles. Following overhaul and test running, 4936 returned to the main line in June 2011.
A successful period of operation followed, during which the loco passed fully into the ownership of JJP Holdings (SW) Ltd and became a resident engine on the West Somerset Railway. 4936 was withdrawn from service in October 2016 to enable another General Overhaul to take place.
The locomotive is now undergoing a full ‘nut and bolt’ strip-down, as well as major boiler surgery, to ensure that on her return she will become a well-established and reliable engine.
David Horton, Head of Mechanical Engineering at the WSR said:
“4936 is a popular locomotive with many on the WSR, it is versatile, historically and geographically appropriate and ideally suited to the line. Some of our volunteers are also involved in working parties at Tyseley helping out with the current overhaul which is great to see. The amount of work being done to the locomotive is impressive, and when she returns I am sure she will be a strong and reliable performer. I am pleased that KH&TC Ltd have today reaffirmed their commitment to bringing the locomotive back to the WSR upon completion of its overhaul, to work out the remainder of its existing 5-year hire agreement to 2020 and hopefully beyond”
Jonathan Jones-Pratt, Chairman of Kinlet Hall and Thornbury Castle Ltd, said:
“I am very pleased to confirm that we will bring 4936 back to the West Somerset, a railway that is very close to my heart. We are looking forward to working with Dave and his team. Our commitment is well beyond our current hire agreement and we have a long term vision that sees us being at the WSR far beyond 2020. Kinlet Hall has always been a popular engine both with crews and passengers, having a proven positive track record, we look forward to again serving the WSR community along with providing a resident flagship mainline engine. We aim to be able to serve the WSR well on this busy line, as she has done over the past three years of use.”