AN enormous locomotive built in 1944 has arrived in Swindon ready for a multi-million pound renovation.

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive 35011 settled into its new home at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway as volunteers prepare for the massive task of taking it apart and restoring it to its former glory over the next 10 years.

The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society agreed to move the massive machine to the Blunsdon site to retro-convert it back to how it looked before it was rebuilt in 1965 – it will be the first Merchant Navy class locomotive to undergo the rigorous restoration process.

One of the society’s directors Gerry Leyman said: “This is going to fill a missing link in the history of British steam locomotive development, it’s inspiring.

“She’s been waiting for years to find a proper home.

"We won’t know exactly how much work we’ll need to do until we strip her down and see how the frame’s holding up, it could cost close to £2 million altogether to completely restore her.

"At the very least, we’ll need to build a new crank axle and a new centre cylinder.”

The locomotive’s arrival had been kept hush-hush to prevent hordes of train spotters flooding the site.

But there were a few hiccups during its journey – a haulage lorry used to transport it over had its fuel siphoned by thieves the night before, then it got stuck in traffic for hours due to an accident on the M25.

One passing motorist took a photo of the low-loader in the queue and put it on Facebook, alerting a handful of fans who turned up and waited eagerly to get a glimpse at Blunsdon.

Allan Bott from the Swindon & Cricklade Railway said: “There was a lot of interest during our last move and the car park was rammed, so we kept it secret this time.

“We are always looking for exciting new projects like this and to have this locomotive on a GWR line is brilliant.”

Working with other locomotive groups, the plan is to remove the locomotive boiler for the first time since it was withdrawn by British Railways, to allow thorough restoration of the locomotive frames, wheel sets, and air-smoothed casing.