Michael L. Roach.
The year 2023 will see the 100th anniversary of the production of the first of the Great Western Railway's Castle Class 4-cylinder Express Steam Locomotives. The first one rolled out of Swindon Works in August 1923 and was an instant success. There was no prototype because the design was an updated and enlarged version of the 4-cylinder Star Class of 1906. The Star class was designed by Churchward and the Castle by his successor Charles Collet who were both Chief Mechanical Engineers of the Company. The design brought together all the best features of current GWR loco design and the Castle class were well proportioned, attractive to look at and highly competent. This was shown by the fact that 171 were built from 1923 to 1950.
In 1962 the number of Castles was in rapid decline as more and more diesels were coming off the production line including the first of the Western Class diesels in December 1961. On 1 January 1962 there were 151 Castles nominally in traffic but by the end of 1962 the number was down to just 54. The last Castle was withdrawn in December 1965. Laira Shed had just 5 on the books on the 1 January 1962 but by the year end there was just one left and that was 7022 Hereford Castle. There were a couple of Castles at Newton Abbot and then there were none until one reached Bristol, Reading and London. I had two trips behind Castles in 1962 both over the South Devon Banks from Newton Abbot to Plymouth. One was a good trip and the other best forgotten.
MLR / 24 February 2023
Swindon & Cricklade
 The backs of 3135 and the Taffy Tank 
 and  The Taffy Tank - front and back. I wonder if I ever saw this loco when I lived in Gwent for the first 20 or so years of my life? Must try and check!
 The front of partly dismantled 3135.
 A sort of general view of part of the area.