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A Saint in BR clothes but only for a matter of days so catch it while you can!

2018 will mark the finishing of the new build Saint locomotive Lady of Legend, currently in the final stages of her build at Didcot Railway Centre, and we are excited and please to bring you another one off fantastic opportunity. A real one off that we are proud to be backing for the good of raising money that will ultimately see this fine loco finished and who knows, possibly one day pounding the Devon Banks.

The GWR 'Saint' class, introduced by G J Churchward in 1902, represented one of the most important steps forward in railway traction of the 20th century. The class incorporated many revolutionary advances in design and the 'Saints' are now acknowledged to have had a profound influence on almost every aspect of subsequent steam locomotive development.

Unfortunately no example was saved for preservation, the final engine, No. 2920 Saint David, being withdrawn from service and scrapped in 1953, ending a distinguished half century of work by the class.

Since the early 1970s the Great Western Society had cherished the ambition to re-create a 'Saint', and in 1974 the GWS purchased 'Hall' class 4-6-0 No. 4942 Maindy Hall from Barry Scrapyard with the specific intention of using it as the basis for a new 'Saint'. Collett had produced the pioneer 'Hall' class locomotive in late 1924 by rebuilding 'Saint' No. 2925 Saint Martin and fitting 6ft driving wheels, and in the Saint Project the GWS is basically reversing that rebuild.

The first attempt at creating a new ‘Saint’ did not succeed, as there were genuine doubts at the time about the ability of the preservation movement to build new locomotives. Subsequent events have disproved that concern and the delay proved to be a blessing in disguise. When the current ‘Saint’ Project was launched at Didcot in 1995 the new plan was to re-create one of the early high-stepping ‘Saints’ with straight running plate beneath the cab and a square drop-end at the front of the frames, rather than one of the later engines with curved drop-ends.

This pioneering and visually striking design attracted much support and now the new 'Saint', No. 2999 Lady of Legend, is rapidly nearing completion. From the outset the plan has always been to finish the locomotive in the elaborate pre-Great War lined livery with Garter Crest, but the GWS is also mindful of the strong interest in the BR period.

Quite a few ‘Saints’ – especially those from the later ‘Court’ series – received the attractive BR mixed traffic lined black livery, although it is thought that only one, or perhaps two, of the 1906 ‘Lady’ series (upon which the new engine has been modelled) were turned out in black. 

However, the prospect of being able to photograph a ‘Saint’ in lined black is so appealing that the enthusiast world has been buzzing about it for some time. Much discussion has taken place and the obstacles have been significant. Understandably, many of the donors to the Saint Project felt strongly that the engine should appear first in GWR livery, but fortunately for those who want to see it in black there is a need to raise money to repay the final costs of this 20+ year project.

It is to help with this funding shortfall that agreement has been reached between TimeLine Events and the Great Western Society to apply lined black livery to Lady of Legend as soon as the locomotive is finally complete - now anticipated to be in April/May 2018, although the date can’t be confirmed the boiler has passed its hydraulic and steam tests and final assembly of the engine is well under way.

So, for JUST A FEW DAYS in the Summer of 2018 the ‘Saint’ will carry the lined black livery, probably on one side only (the driver’s side), and will be paired with the 1921-vintage 3,500 gallon tender currently attached to ‘Mogul’ 5322 which is already black and more period-correct for the 1950s (it will be lined and re-crested to suit). During this period we will run a series of photo charters to give all who are interested the opportunity to photograph it. IMMEDIATELY afterwards the loco will go back into the works to be painted in the GWR Edwardian livery.

Sure, this is something of a compromise: by the early 1950s the surviving straight frame Saints were fitted with new cylinders, outside steam pipes and curved front drop-end. Lady of Legend has inside pipes and a square front drop end (it will have top feed on the boiler), but we think the chance to see a lined black ’Saint’ justifies a little poetic license.

One thing is certain: this will be the one and only opportunity to do this – certainly in our lifetimes. Miss this one and you really have missed it!  

Depending on bookings we plan to run two, possibly three events, giving everyone that books a choice of evenings so they can attend. This approach will hopefully then allow everyone a chance to choose a night to suit. Obviously until we are closer to her being finished we are unable to confirm dates, that said we do aim to give everyone at least a months notice which we hope will be enough to make plans. 

Please note tickets will show a nominal date of the 31st of January 2019, however this is in no way a confirmed date for these events. All dates will be advised in due course. By purchasing a ticket(s) you are supporting the finishing of Lady of Legend and the opportunity to attend one (or more) of the forthcoming TimeLine Events photo evenings. 

Anyone wishing to attend more than one evening should purchase multiple tickets at the point of checkout. 

Event cost £60.00 per person.