Anyone who is reading this probably knows someone who has a child, grandchild, nephew, niece, or someone in their family that loves or knows someone who love J.K. Rawlings famous 7 book/8 movie Epic “Harry Potter” There is no use into going into what the movie is about, since basically everyone with a TV or computer has heard of Harry Potter. This blog post is about a minor, but very important character in the movies, The Hogwarts Express….
The famous Hogwarts Express 4-6-0 #5972 is very lucky to even be in a movie, considering she spent many years at a Scrap Yard, and in very poor shape when she was pulled out.
Great Western Railway 4-6-0 #5972 was uilt in April 1937 at Swinfon railway works for the Great Western Railway, she was first allocated to Neath, South Wales. In August 1950, after the British Government took control of the nations railroads in the form of British Rail, she was moved by BR to Carmarthen. Sometime after the move, sh was fitted with three row superheater at Swindon, for greater and more efficient use of steam. After this retro-fit, she was allocated to Plymoth Laira TMD. It is unknown when this happened, but she was allocation was to Cardiff East Dock, her final shed, before she was withdrawn from service and retired in December 1963, and acquired by famous Woodham Brothers, Barry, Vaale of Glamorgan for scrap in May 1964. This time frame would be the engines darkest years. Between May 1964 and May 1981, a total of 26 years, 5972 sat, rusting, rotting away and forgotten in the Barry scrap yard. She was not the only steam locomotive at Barry, but she was one of HUNDREDS of steam locomotives that the scrapper had not yet cut up to be turned into razor blades. During those 26 years, the owner of the scrap yard was sympathetic to steam, and refused to cut any of them up, and an interesting fact is that of the 335 British Rail steam locomotives sent there, 213 were saved.
Things were looking good, and in May 1981, Woodham Brothers sold the locomotive to Procor (UK) Ltd in Wakefield, and she left as the 125th departure from Barry. After its departure from Woodham Brothers, it took 30 rail enthusiast volunteers 16 to completely rebuild and restore the 5972 to here original, Great Western glory. During this time, new flues and fire brick had to be installed, all the controls and gauges replaced, new driving rods installed and new super heater equipment installed. The 5972 was one of the most complete engines to depart Woodham Brothers, so rebuilding costs were manageable. The GWR 5972 “Olton Hall” debuted to the public as an operating steam locomotive sometime in 1997.
Information regarding the Trips from its debut sometime in 1997 to its usage in the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter movie adaptions is non-existent. After searching for hours upon hours and finding only the same Images, sites and no information, I gave up….I think this blogger will be having dreams….errr…. nightmares about not finding information tonight!
Anyway, when the 5972 was chosen to be used in the filming of the Harry Potter movies, an outcry from England Rail Preservation sector made it clear they were not happy that the locomotive would be changed from Great Western Green to the Maroon as seen in the movies. The Olton Hall name plate was removed for the entire duration of filming of the movies and the engine was renamed “Hogwarts Castle”
The locomotive is currently owned West Coast Railway company and between filming, the locomotive has made many outings, as the Hogwarts Express.
Here is a shot of the Olton Hall in its current paint scheme: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=290396
Well, considering that this is ALL the information I could dig up, since people on the other side of the pond seem to be more fascinated with posting PHOTOS and not Historical information on their locomotives, I must conclude with this post. I hope the next blog post will go into more detail! Happy Railfanning!
If ANYONE can provide a more complete historical background on this locomotive, please shoot me a message!