In June 2012 FR20 returned for the third time to the National Railway Museum in York. The NRM was staging a second Railfest for the Olympic year. This was centred around a theme of "Record Breakers" and FR20, being the oldest workable main line engine, was a must-have star attraction!
As with the first Railfest in 2004, FR20 was in light steam during the event and visitors were able to visit the cab of the loco, where FRT volunteers explained how it works and what all the controls do. You don't get to stand on any working engine that's older...!
The FRT Sales stand was also be in attendance as part of a massive retailing and information hall. There is a photo further down this page of Trust volunteer Derek Milby in charge of the stall at the 2004 event. The stand stocks the Trust's own high quality fundraising products, Thomas the Tank engine models and other toys for children, and a range of gifts such as tea towels, jigsaws and calendars for those whose interest in railways isn't overwhelming!
Railfest 2012 was billed as Britain's biggest rail celebration, a grand gathering of over 30 record breaking locomotives from the past and present. Other record breakers include "City of Truro" - seen here alongside FR20 in 2004, the legendary "Flying Scotsman" and new build "Tornado".
Our veteran loco was last at the National Railway Museum in 2009 to haul passenger rides on nine consecutive days for the autumn half term.
The 1863 veteran's first visit was the original Railfest in 2004. 2004 was a special year for railways in Britain. It was 200 years since the first steam locomotive in the world, Richard Trevithick's Penydarren engine in south Wales, and 100 years since the GWR 4-4-0 "City of Truro" was the first to break the 100 mph barrier, not to mention 400 years since the first waggonways in this country. So all in all it was a year to celebrate!
To mark Britain's founding role in the railway revolution, the National Railway Museum held Railfest, a 9 day event drawing together the story of Britain's railways in late May and early June. To do this, the NRM invited representatives of many eras of our glorious railway heritage, and Furness Railway Number 20, and the North London Railway 2nd class coach, were "must have" guests. Our old engine is seen here in position awaiting the crowds. FRT Chairman Tim Owen is on the footplate, which was open to all visitors. Most of the locomotives present dated from the 20th century, so it was a different experience altogether for the visitors to climb up the steps, and step back to 1863!
FR Number 20 was in light steam throughout the event, so visitors could see how the fire heats the water to make steam, and blow the whistle! A number of engines were booked to operate trains on short running lines - including the 1904 record breaker "City of Truro", seen here alongside the Festiniog Railway's "Prince" which ran trains on its 2' gauge track. However, such was the clamour from visitors to see our old engine in action, that on the Thursday and Friday, 3rd and 4th June, FR Number 20 was entrusted to haul passengers on the main running line, and is seen here standing at the platform.
The Festiniog's "Prince" was, like Furness Railway Number 20, built in 1863, and holds the title of being Britain's oldest working narrow gauge engine. It was fitting that the two 1863 veterans performed alongside each other - and gave the crews a chance to try and establish once and for all which really is the oldest working engine in Britain, full stop! We reckon our engine is a couple of months older, and far more of the original survives in our locomotive, so we are claiming the title!
Visitors to the NRM were wowed by our old engine - which is such a contrast to the much more sizeable 20th century motive power on show. Most visitors to the footplate commented on the simplicity of the controls and the lack of any roof! FRT volunteers were overwhelmed at the constant stream of people who repeatedly used words like "beautiful" and "fantastic" to describe the locomotive, and quite a number said the presence of FR Number 20 was the reason they had come to the event!
Railfest 2004 wasn't just about steam - FR Number 20 is seen here at the National Railway Museum waiting for the show to start, alongside former Western Region diesel hydraulic D832 'Onslaught'.
İFurness Railway Trust