52 Steve Cooper - F5 replica Dec. 2019

At our December meeting we welcomed Stephen Cooper from the Holden F5 Steam Locomotive Trust. – a Trust dedicated to the re-creating of a lost steam locomotive.
The F5 2-4-2T steam locomotive was introduced by the Great Eastern Railway Work’s engineer James Holden, built as an improvement of a similar, earlier design by his predecessor Thomas William Worsdell, a member of the Quaker Worsdell family and whose grandfather Thomas Clarke Worsdell had designed / built the tender for Stephenson’s ‘Rocket’ – so the genes were there !
The F5 was rebuilt from the F4 class which had a reputation as the ‘Gobbler’ owing to its heavy coal consumption and poor performance – remedied by work on the valve gear.
Examples were seen across the Eastern region based at Lowestoft, Yarmouth and their best known shed at Stratford from which they infamously operated the London Transport ‘push and pull’ Epping to Ongar branch until 1957. Thomas William Worsdell was Superintendent at Stratford in 1881, James Holden succeeding him four years later.
Following the last day of British Rail Steam in May 1958, classes F4 and F5 became extinct.
In the early 2000s the idea was born to take an F5 into its third century with the original plan to reconstruct BR No 67218 which was one of the two members of the F5 class fitted with an F6-style cab, which had larger main and additional side windows.
Original nineteenth century drawings were accessed via the National Railway Museum, Stratford and the Great Eastern Railway Society and, where relevant copies were missing engineers’ ingenuity was called upon, therefore enabling work to begin in earnest in 2003. Beginning at the Ovington works, the project moved to Mangappa , Tysley Locomotive works and latterly Stourbridge. Early work included the smokebox, bunker, frames, door handles, cab window and other smaller components. Eventually, CAD artworks ( computer aided designs ) have been produced for the chassis, crank axle and driving wheels pattern ; also the two sets of radial wheels.
Some illustrations of the castings did remind me of Meccano of yesteryear while the CADs gave the impression of movement towards the final target of ‘Rolling’ or at least assembly during 2020.
With costs ranging from crank axle assembly of £500 to in excess of £100,000 for the boiler, fund raising was essential .A mixture of donations, Gift Aid, merchandise, publicity and the railway press has ensured that money has always been available.
.The range of merchandise has been enhanced by the sale of prints from local artists Eddy Dodwell and Wrenford Thatcher. The Trust received an Heritage Railway Association Award for the ‘Best use of the Media’.
During the project there was a rebranding from F5 67218 to GER 789 when a replica name plate of the latter became available. This rebranding in fact enhanced the project, the striking GER livery being visually attractive and boosting donations.
Stephen was most enthusiastic about a dream of seeing an F5 gliding along the rails once more ( at a final project cost just shy of £800,000 ) and was well received and appreciated by the R.I.G. group. Such a project keeps alive industrial and people skills
For further details of the project go to
Alan Butler.