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HISTORY OF GWR no.7200
The earliest known photograph of 7200
The finishing touches are made into a 2-8-2T wheel arrangement inside the former 'A' Shop at Swindon Works, August 1934.
Existing photographs of 5275 are yet to be found.
7200 began life in 1930 originally as a 2-8-0T numbered 5275, the first engine built to GWR lot no.266 (a batch order of twenty new 2-8-0T engines). The building cost of 5275 was £4,380 which included £933 for the boiler.
Since 1910, the 2-8-0T class were built specifically to service the South Wales coal traffic and performed this work very capably, being popular with the drivers who found their great adhesive weight most useful on the steeply graded lines of the Welsh valleys.
However in 1930, the South Wales coal and steel exports were falling off as a result of the Wall Street crash of 1929, and consequently many of the 2-8-0T class eventually had little to no work. Normally in this situation the class would've been simply transferred elsewhere but this couldn't be done with the 2-8-0T class due to their short-haul coal and water capacity.
Rather than face the prospect of loosing their skilled workforce at Swindon Works, the GWR continued building lot no.266 (5275-94) resulting in all twenty new engines put immediately into storage.
5275 would only clock up 1408 miles between 1930 and 1934. It is believed she was used occasionally for various local assignments and test runs.
Swindon's cheif mechanical engineer Charles Collett, found a solution to the dilemma with these already redundant engines by adding 4ft 2in to the rear of the frames allowing a larger bunker to be fitted resulting in carrying extra coal and water. With a greater distance range, this made the new proposed 2-8-2T class a more versatile engine to run on other parts of the GWR network.
5275 re-entered the factory on the 23rd July 1934 for alteration to 2-8-2T arrangement, and was re-numbered 7200. The modifications cost £200.
After completion on August 31st 1934, 7200 left Swindon for the Welsh Neath division and was shedded at Llanelli until 1940, when she returned to Swindon Works for light repairs and again in 1942 for an intermediate repair.
For some reason in 1943, 7200 ended up at Tyseley for repairs, leaving soon afterwards to return to her home ground.
In 1944 after completing 226,294 miles she was shopped at Caerphilly, where she received her second boiler C2606 and then returned to Llanelli and Landore for a short while.
In February 1947, 7200 then moved on to new pastures, the Newton Abbot Division. Regularly carrying out banking duties from Aller Junction to Dainton Tunnel, working the Stoneycombe ballast trains and the monthly coal train up the Kingswear branch. She was even known to have worked holiday trains from Paignton to Newton Abbot.
In February 1950, she moved to St. Blazey to help out in the china clay traffic for 2 years. Returning to the Swindon pool in 1952 for a heavy general overhaul, 7200 received her third boiler C3174 after 408,686 miles.
Around this time she also received a modernised "scuttle" bunker, designed to facilitate coal movement to the cab which added an extra 300 gallons to her water capacity. 7200 is the only surviving loco of it's class to have this feature.
On completion of the overhaul 7200 returned to her old stomping grounds of Llanelli, Ebbw Junction and Landore, completing only a further 75,281 miles before returning to Caerphilly in 1956 for her third heavy general and her fourth boiler C5218 (which she still carries to the present day). From there, 7200 moved on to Danygraig, Llanelli and Landore, clocking up another 70,000 miles with general freight and iron ore duties, before returning from Duffryn Yard in 1960 for her last heavy intermediate repair at Caerphilly.
During the last two years of service 7200 managed to clock up a further 50,000 miles including a trip to Stafford Road Wolverhampton for her final light casual on the 18th of February, 1962. A year later, on the 2nd July 1963, 7200 was condemned - aged 33 years, and with a total of 605,523 miles.
On the 9th October 1963 she was withdrawn from Llanelli shed (87F) and sold to the Woodham Bros. on Barry island, Wales, where she stood in a siding, rusting for eighteen years. In September 1981 she departed Barry - the 137th engine to do so - and was moved to the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, where she stood in the sidings for a further fifteen years. The 7200 Trust was formed in 1998, and restoration has started.
The rolling chassis were restored at the former 'J' Shop at Swindon Works in 2006, and now has the distinction of being the last locomotive to leave the once eminent GWR works, closing 165 years of railway history.
15 years and £200,000 later, the progress made has been impressive, but there is still much to do and money to be raised... it is hoped to use her when fully restored here at Quainton Road and on visits to other preserved railways with lengthy track and steep gradients, when once again the sharp bark of her exhaust will be heard.
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