Published at 12:36 on Wednesday 1st February 2023
Tags: Tyseley, Castle, Main Line Steam, Defiant, 5080, Overhaul, Steam, Vintage Trains

A scene that may hopefully be seen again in the not too distant future. GWR Castle class 4-6-0 No. 5080 Defiant is seen near Aynho on 11th June 1988, powering 'The Red Dragon' return special from Didcot to Birmingham. Brian Morrison

The overhaul of the third GWR 4073 Class ‘Castle’ 4-6-0 in the Vintage Trains fleet, No. 5080 Defiant, has received a welcome boost with the delivery to Tyseley Locomotive Works of a new Collett-pattern tender superstructure.

The locomotive was outshopped from Swindon Works in May 1939, originally carrying the name Ogmore Castle. It received its current name in January 1941, the name Defiant being taken from that of a World War II aircraft, the Boulton Paul Defiant turret fighter. Originally purchased by the Birmingham Railway Museum Trust, now Vintage Trains, in August 1974 as a source of spares for classmate No. 7029 Clun Castle, but these thoughts soon changed and a programme of restoration began on the locomotive in 1985, returning it to steam two years later.

After a full decade of service on the National Network and on numerous heritage railways its boiler certificate expired in 1997 and the locomotive was placed on static display at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, Quainton Road, in January 2002, remaining there for 15 years before returning to Tyseley for an assessment of its condition.

The assessment highlighted that a considerable amount of work would be required to return the single chimney ‘Castle’ to main line running condition, with the estimate at the time being in the region of £1 million, with materials costs having increased by around 40% in the last three years, the sum is now likely to be considerably higher by the time the locomotive is ready to steam once more. In view of the predicted cost of the work and the fact that Defiant remains a popular attraction at the Tyseley open day events, the decision was taken to commence work on the tender so that the locomotive itself remained intact for as long as possible.

Dismantling of the tender commenced in October 2019, with the existing superstructure fastenings being stripped from the chassis. The original superstructure remains in place on the chassis at present, but has already been prepared for lifting when the time comes. Former Vintage Trains stalwart CME, Bob Meanley, produced a new design for the tender tank that increased the water capacity of the Collett tender by 12.5% to 4,500 gallons, making it much more useful for today’s main line rail tour duties. Unfortunately, work on the new superstructure was delayed by the onset of Covid-19, and further problems arose when the original contractor ceased trading. The work has now been completed by Goodmans of Nottingham, and was funded by the Defiant Club.

The superstructure will be fitted to the tender chassis following Vintage Trains’ ‘Castle 100’ open day, which is scheduled to take place over the weekend of 17th/18th June. Fundraising will now begin to cover the cost of the necessary boiler repairs, which are anticipated to be in the region of £300,000.

Anyone wishing to find out more about the upcoming overhaul is encouraged to make an enquiry by e-mail to

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