GWR 42xx Class 2-8-0t (No 4247)
The Bodmin & Wenford Railway owns and operates one of only five surviving steam locomotives from the GWR 42xx Class 2-8-0T. These were produced by the Great Western Railway (GWR) for as long as three decades (from 1910 to 1940). The main duty of this class of steam locomotives was to pull the heavy coal trains from the mines to ports in South Wales. In order to be able to do that and at the same time, successfully handle steep slopes, the loco had to have high traction and outstanding steam capacity.
The GWR 42xx Class 2-8-0T locos were notable for being ‘equipped’ with large boilers and narrow side tanks. However, since there were many water stops along the way, this was not an issue. Also, the locomotives were designed for short trips. Due to low tank capacity and high water requirements, locos from this class were popularly called the ‘Water Carts’.
From 42xx to 7200 and 5205 Class
As mentioned earlier, the 42xx Class locomotives were manufactured until 1940. The majority, however, were produced by 1923 - more than 100 in total. In the late 1930s, about 10 to 15 percent of these locomotives were upgraded to the 7200 Class 2-8-2T, while many were later rebuilt to the Class 5205. But after the introduction of electric and diesel trains in the mid-20th century, steam locomotives - including the upgraded ones - gradually became obsolete and were eventually withdrawn from service. Many were cut to pieces and scrapped. A handful - including No 4247 - managed to survive in scrapyards from where they were eventually rescued, restored and put back to service.
About No 4247
Just like other locomotives from the Class 42xx, No 4247 was used to haul coal trains in South Wales as well. But unlike its sister locos, No 4247 also briefly served in Cornwall where it was used for hauling china clay trains. Built in 1916, the loco was performing its tasks until the 1960s when it was withdrawn from service. By 1964, it was sitting in the Barry scrapyard from where it was recovered by The 4247 Preservation Society in the mid-1980s. It was then restored and put back to operation. After several years of service on multiple historic railways, the Bodmin & Wenford Railway managed to get it for itself and today, No 4247 is one of the main highlights of the heritage railway.