"I would be surprised if these 'Castles' are ever surpassed"
– Bob Meanley, Tyseley Locomotive Works
If anyone knows a thing or two about GWR 'Castle' class 4-6-0s, it's Bob Meanley of Tyseley Locomotive Works. Bob managed the team that undertook the benchmark restoration of 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe and now has day-to-day care of this exceptional locomotive which was once considered only fit to be a source of parts for other preserved 'Castles'. Shortly, the restoration of another much-loved engine – 7029 Clun Castle – will be completed at Tyseley.
It's fair to say that in the process of restoring and maintaining these magnificent locomotives Bob has become familiar with literally every nut, bolt and fitting, and we are extremely fortunate to have him on the Masterpiece Models panel of experts. So, when we take our pre-production models to Bob for assessment, we listen very carefully to what he says. In the case of our 70XX 'Castles', Bob examined the pre-production models in minute detail and, in conjunction with close inspection of the real engines, he made wide-ranging recommendations – all of which we have followed.
What, then, did Bob think of our production 'Castles' when we took a pair up to Tyseley following our recent return from the builder in Korea? "I'm extremely impressed," he said. "In fact they are so good that they are on a level with some of the best professionally hand-built models that I have seen costing many times the price. For a ready-to-run model, that's remarkable. These models really are as good as genuine 'Castles' and I would be surprised if they are ever surpassed. It proves the worth of concentrating on one series of the 'Castles' in order to get them right as there are so many subtle differences between the engines built in the 1920s and 30s and these final 'Super Castles'."
We know what he means; just within the 70XX series we have built, almost every engine has small differences that make it unique.
On our visit to Bob we also showed him our latest batch of pre-production models. He scored the new Collett 3,500 tender at 100/100 with no changes or corrections necessary; the 8750 Pannier Tank scored 97/100, the 47XX scored 92/100, the 49XX 'Hall' 92/100 and the 'Grange' 94/100. All in the 90s before we have even made any tweaks or corrections! Our policy of going for absolute accuracy with no compromises is paying off!