December 2020 Picture of the Month

The 2-2-2 locomotive North Star was built in 1838 for the Great Western Railway by Robert Stephenson and Company. It was the first broad-gauge locomotive built for the new railway. When it was withdrawn from service in 1864, its historical significance was recognised and it was stored in a corner of the GWR's locomotive works at Swindon, along with Lord of the Isles, intended to become the focal point of a future museum. Sadly, when manufacturing space at Swindon was at a premium in the early years of the 20th century, both locomotives were cut up in 1906 and the shed in which they had been stored was reassigned. Less than 20 years later, the folly of that decision was recognised, and a replica of North Star was commissioned in 1925. Lord of the Isles was not so fortunate, and all that survives of it is a pair of 8ft diameter flangeless driving wheelsThe locomotive works is now the superb STEAM! museum which tells the story of the Great Western Railway, and the replica of North Star is its centrepiece.

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All images and text © John Hannavy