A SMALL boy clutches his mother’s hand as he gazes up in awe at a piece of engineering history.

The image was captured on Thursday, October 7, 1971 at Swindon station; parts of the old buildings, soon to be demolished, are clearly visible.

The occasion was one of a series of excursions made by the first King Class locomotive, King George V, to mark its restoration at the Bulmer’s Railway Centre in Hereford, run by the cider firm.

It was the first time British Rail had permitted a steam locomotive to run since 1968, the year of the last official steam-hauled service.

As might be expected of a local newspaper, especially in a railway town, the Adver sent a reporter and photographer to record the Swindon leg of the programme, but a more detailed account came two months later in respected enthusiasts’ journal The Railway Magazine, which had first appeared in 1897 and is still going strong.

Before detailing the excursions, the author wrote: “The story of how the engine was drawn from its stock shed at Swindon on a rainy day in August 1968, how Bulmers acquired the five Pullman cars and how the ‘King’ and the Cider Train, beautifully restored, were put on exhibition at Hereford, has already been told in our pages.”

The Cider Train had since toured Britain behind diesel locomotives, while the King was confined to Moorfields sidings in Hereford, where it prowled “...like a lion pacing up and down in a cage...”

Turning to the Swindon excursion, the author said: “On October 7, King George V took the Cider Train and three BR second opens with about 120 paying passengers (fare £5) from Olympia to Swindon, where the train was on show in the works yard that afternoon and the next day, and on October 9 the train made its final run of the experimental series from Swindon to Hereford, this time with four BR coaches behind the Pullmans, carrying 210 passengers at £5 each.”

Revenue from tickets was boosted by the sale of thousands of souvenir programmes at 10p each.

The locomotive went on to haul excursions run for several years before finding its way back home to Steam in Swindon in 2008.

It was subsequently displayed at the National Railway Museum in York before returning to Steam, where it remains.

We wonder whether any Rewind readers took photographs of their own when King George V came to Swindon, and whether a certain man in his fifties remembers being a small and enthralled boy.