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Final appeal to complete iconic engine project
Volunteers at the Didcot Railway centre working on the restoration of the steam locomotive Lady of Legend
VOLUNTEERS at a steam train heritage centre near Didcot have embarked on their latest restoration project, to get a rail legend running agin.
Two years ago, after 50,000 man hours, volunteers completed their work on express locomotive King Edward II so it could go on display for the first time at Didcot Railway Centre, next to Didcot Parkway railway station.
It was saved from the scrapyard almost 30 years ago and took volunteers 20 years to rebuild, at a cost of £700,000.
Now steam rail enthusiasts have taken on a new challenge – the restoration of 2999 Lady of Legend, which would be the first Saint Class 4-6-0 to be fully restored in the 21st century.
Volunteers now have most of the fittings for the tender and the locomotive.
But the remaining work will cost an estimated £80,000 and a fundraising drive has been launched by the Great Western Society.
Society chairman Richard Croucher said: “We estimate that the remaining work will cost in the region of £50,000, to which we need to add another £30,000 to cover the cost of acquiring the remaining items – couplings, axle boxes and springs for when our locomotive will run.
“We have come so far and are now tantalisingly close to the finishing line and aim to raise the remaining funds in this centenary year.
“Membership of the Saint Partnership is still open and anyone who contributes £1,000 or more will have their contribution recorded on a plaque, to be attached to the roof of 2999 after restoration has been completed.
“They will also get priority booking on the inaugural run by Lady of Legend and the chance to ride on the footplate on a preserved line.”
Great Western Society member Frank Dumbleton said the restoration of King Edward II proved that a major reconstruction project could be successfully completed.
He added: “So far, the Saint Project has been magnificently supported and major new components have been manufactured, including three new driving wheel sets, two bogie wheel sets and two identical half-cylinder blocks.
“The final paint finish will be the handsome, fully-lined Edwardian livery, with the brass embellishments that were carried up to the outbreak of the First World War.
“The locomotive is being rebuilt to the standards required for main line running, and will also work on some preserved railways.”
The railway centre has linked up with two other rail heritage attractions in the area to offer discounts to visitors.
Didcot Railway Centre, the Pendon Museum at Long Wittenham, and the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway have joined together for the promotion, offering a £2 discount per person for a future visit to any partner attraction.
For further information, visit didcotrailwaycentre.org.uk
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