Currently undergoing restoration, 4930 Hagley Hall is the SVR's flagship loco and is owned by SVR (Holdings) plc, the non-profit company that operates the Railway. A great deal of work has already taken place, but there's still some way to go before Hagley Hall can re-join the Railway's fleet of working locomotives. It's planned that the loco will be back in steam in 2020.
Work on 4930 is a major commitment for the SVR's engineering workshops at Bridgnorth, and thanks to a grant of £95,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, work began on the tender.
The existing tender tank was beyond repair so a new one was made. New tyres were fitted, the axle boxes were overhauled and the chassis had an extensive refurbishment. The project has ended up taking longer than originally forecast, but that's often the case with locomotive restoration. Fortunately, the Charitable Trust successfully negotiated with The NLHF for an extension to the original completion date.
Finding out that Hagley Hall's cylinder blocks were beyond repair was bad enough. But the problems didn't end there, as 4930's volunteer engineering co-ordinator Martin White explains: "No patterns have survived to cast new cylinder blocks, and no drawings could be traced either! Fortunately we made contact with a talented design engineer who had already produced 'new' drawings for other Great Western cylinders He managed to reverse engineer the new cylinder blocks for Hagley Hall."
The amount of unforeseen work on both the tender and the cylinder has inevitably increased the cost of the project; what started out as £400,000 project will end up costing £1,000,000.
Alongside volunteers and engineering staff, apprentices from the Heritage Apprenticeship Scheme (HAS) are playing an active part in this work. Enthusiastic members of the SVR Junior Club are helping to clean and repaint dozens of smaller components for later refitting
The locomotive’s independent fund-raising support group, The Friends of Locomotive 4930 Hagley Hall, is now fully integrated into the SVR Charitable Trust, so it can maximise income through Gift Aid. Through sales and donations since 1999, the Group has raised over £100,000, and its volunteers are providing hands-on assistance throughout the project.
As the name suggests, 4930 is a Hall class locomotive, originally designed and built at the Great Western Railway’s Swindon Works under Lot 254. It entered traffic in May 1929, at a cost of £5,107.
Hagley Hall was withdrawn from main line service in December 1963, having run 1,295,236 miles, and was sold to Woodham's scrapyard in Barry, arriving there in April 1964.
It was acquired from the scrap yard for use on the SVR in 1972 and after restoration, returned to passenger working in 1979. Withdrawal from SVR traffic came in October 1986, after the locomotive suffered the failure of several boiler stays. Although this was considered an insignificant repair, with only a short amount of time left on its boiler ticket before an overhaul was legally required, such work could not be justified.