Tag Archives: Great Western Railway

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway

The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway (N&MR) was a short railway created to allow the Oswestry and Newtown Railway and the Mid-Wales Railway access the Mid-Wales market town of Machynlleth, from their communal station at Newtown, Powys. Crossing the River Severn and the Cambrian Mountains, completed in 1863 it became part of the Cambrian Railways system in 1864.

Machynlleth StationMachynlleth station still sports much that is original on 28 May 1988, though as this picture was taken came news that it was for sale. The train shown had arrived late after a breakdown, and, having terminated, was about to return to Euston. (Allan Mott)

In July 1864 the line was absorbed into the Cambrian Railways. Cambrian Railways were absorbed by the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1922 as a result of the Railways Act 1921, and became part of British Railways in 1948.
There was an accident in the Talerddig cutting on 18 January 1921, of which several pictures survive. Hence, even since the first track rationalisation of the line during the 1970s, there remains to this day a passing loop on this single track line at the site of Talerddig station, retained in the need to “pin down” the brakes on freight trains over the summit, and now a critical operational node for passing passenger trains.[4]
Talerddig cutting
A significant civil engineering achievement on the line is the Talerddig cutting through solid rock. With a depth of 120 feet (37 m), it was the deepest cutting in the world at the time of its completion in 1862. For safety reasons, the original near-vertical sides have since been trimmed back.

Talerddig_cutting_-_geograph.org.uk_-_856895Talerddig cutting
The means by which the Newtown and Machynlleth Railway (which became a constituent of the Cambrian Railways) breached the Cambrian Mountains to head for the coast. Compared with SH9200 : Railway Cutting at the summit of Talerddig bank there’s been some extensive regrowth.
© Copyright Nigel Brown and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Today, after the closure during the Beeching Axe of much of the former-Cambrian system, the entire length of the N&MR remains open as part of Network Rail’s Cambrian Line, operated by the Class 158 DMUs of Arriva Trains Wales.

1024px-Machynlleth_Station_with_eastbound_local_train_geograph-2545274-by-Ben-BrooksbankMachynlleth Station with eastbound local train
View westward, down the Dovey Valley towards Dovey Junction, then Aberystwyth/Barmouth and Pwllheli. The locomotive is one of the first Churchward ‘4500’ 2-6-2T, No. 4501 (built 11/06 as No. 2162).
© Copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Newtown StationNewtown: station buildings
The main station buildings on the Up (eastbound) platform at Newtown / Y Drenewydd.  © Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway

Some Early Lines

Old Railway Companies

Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway

Dean Forest RlyA substantial stone overbridge near Drybrook (Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway). This section opened on 4 November 1907, but closed 0n 7 July 1930. Note the bridge-rail fencing, still extant in August 1988.

This was incorporated on 13 July 1871 to extend the Bullo Pill Railway ( an early British railway, completed in 1810 to carry coal mined in the Forest of Dean Coalfield to a port on the River Severn near Newnham, Gloucestershire. It was later converted to a broad gauge steam line by the Great Western Railway, and was closed in the 1960s) to the Hereford, Ross & Gloucester (both qv) at Mitcheldean Road, 4.75 miles away. Heavy engineering was involved and the line was never finished, despite the company’s absorption by the GWR under an Act dated 6 August 1880. The first 1.75 miles to Speedwell opened in July 1885, and to Drybrook on 4 November 1907, but the rest, though built and maintained, was not. Unused track went for scrap in 1917.
The Mitcheldean Road & Forest of Dean Junction Railway (MR&FoDJR) was a railway which ran for 3 1⁄4 miles (5.2 km) from the former Mitcheldean Road railway station on the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway to a junction at Whimsey near Cinderford.
On 6 August 1880 the company was acquired by the Great Western Railway which completed the line but never opened it to traffic.
The line was later lifted beyond Drybook, although a small section between Drybrook Halt and Drybrook Quarry was relaid in 1928. Drybrook Halt was the northern terminus of a GWR railmotor service from Newnham which ran from 1907 to 1930. The line was closed again in 1952.
A short section of the trackbed at the northern end is used by the narrow gauge Lea Bailey Light Railway.

Loop and Shed at Lea Bailey Light Railway

Loop and Shed at Lea Bailey Light Railway

The Lea Bailey Light Railway is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway in the United Kingdom. It is built on the site of a former gold mine which was started by the Chastan Syndicate in 1906. Having sold 75,000 shares at £1 GBP each, test workings at Lea Bailey and nearby Staple Edge concluded that the small amount of gold present could not be extracted economically. The syndicate was wound up in 1908.
The mine was later extended and some 3000 tons of iron ore were extracted — a small amount compared to the 150,000 tons extracted from the nearby Wigpool Ironstone Mine.
An attempt was made in 2003 by the owners of Clearwell Caves to open the mine as a tourist attraction, but this was ultimately unsuccessful. In 2012, a small group from the Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club discovered the mine and a quantity of disused railway equipment and proposed to the owners that a volunteer-led project could start work on restoring the site. As of 2014, two locomotives and a number of wagons have been moved to Lea Bailey from storage at Clearwell Caves or the nearby Hawthorn Tunnel.
In 2013 the Lea Bailey Light Railway Society was formed; its members act as volunteers, undertaking all aspects of work on the site. A regular free newsletter is produced and sent out by e-mail.

Lea Bailey Railway

Lea Bailey Railway

Some Early Lines – Old Railway Companies – Gloucester & Dean Forest Railway

Some Early Lines
Old Railway Companies
Gloucester & Dean Forest Railway

GWR supported, the Company was authorised on 27th July, 1846 to build about 8 miles of railway from Gloucester to Grange Court Junction, with a 7.5 mile extension to Awre (SWR). The Gloucester – Grange Court section was opened on 19th September, 1851 and leased in perpetuity to the GWR from the opening day. When money ran out, the SWR built the Awre extension, and the GWR a branch to Llanthony, Gloucester, opened on 20th March, 1854. The line remained broad gauge until 1869, and the Company was absorbed by the GWR under an Act of 30th June, 1874.

This line is open. It runs from Grange Court to Gloucester. It connected together the Cheltenham and Great Western Railway and the South Wales Railway.

Oakle St PicOakle St Text

Steam Locomotives of a Leisurely Era – 1932 – 0-4-2T Great Western Railway

Steam Locomotives of a Leisurely Era

1932 – 0-4-2T

Great Western Railway

No.1425 with a trailer, as running in 1947

No.1425 with a trailer, as running in 1947

These engines were in effect a modernised version of a very much older class dating back to 1868, the first 54 of which were built as saddle tanks, but later converted to side tanks to conform with the subsequent engines. In all 165 had been constructed between 1868 and 1897, and many of them were still in service in the 1930s, but in need of renewal. It became a common practice on the GWR in later years to replace older engines with completely new ones of the same basic design, instead of the more usual method of giving the original machines extensive overhaul or rebuilding. Latterly this method was applied to some even comparatively modern classes.

In this instance the old 0-4-2Ts were replaced by a series of 95 new engines, Nos.4800-74, which were provided with pull-and-push apparatus, and Nos.5800-19, which were not motor fitted. The most noticeable features in the new engines when compared to the old ones were an extended smokebox and a more modern cab, but they were not superheated. All were built between 1932 and 1936. They replaced their predecessors on the numerous branch lines of the Great Western and in some cases stopping trains along the main lines. With their loads of one or two coaches, sufficient for the local needs which they served, they were very efficient and economical in operation. They were, moreover, quick in acceleration and could show a surprising turn of speed. The advent of the diesel railcar and the closing of many branch lines had rendered many of them redundant, and from 1956 onwards they began to be taken out of service. Nos.4800-74 were renumbered 1400-74 in 1946.


Driving wheels – 5′ 2″,  Cylinders – 16″x 24″,  Pressure – 165 lb.,  Tractive effort – 13900 lb.,  Weight – 41 tons 6 cwt.,  BR classification – 1P


Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era 1923 – ‘Castles’ Great Western Railway

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era
1923 – ‘Castles’
Great Western Railway

No.7 'Great Western' as running in 1956

No.7 ‘Great Western’ as running in 1956

When C.B.Collett succeeded Churchward in 1922 he introduced no radical changes in the strongly individual characteristics of GWR locomotive practice built up during that gentleman’s twenty years of office, but proceeded to carry on the tradition which was to last for the remainder of the Company’s existence until absorption into the BR in 1948.Viscount Horne
Collett’s first engines were in effect an improved ‘Star’ and the resulting class, the ‘Castles’, became the principal express type for all but the heaviest duties for the next 35 years, and when they did finally begin to be superseded in 1959 it was not by a new class of steam locomotives but by diesels. Their exploits during this period are well known and considerations of space do not allow more than a passing reference to the exchange trials of 1924 and 1925 between the GWR and the LNE and LMS Companies, the results of which had no small influence on future locomotive design on the two last mentioned lines.

Clun CastleTheir brilliant performances on the high speed ‘Cheltenham Flyer’ will also not be forgotten. They eventually totalled 171 engines, of which Nos. 4073-99, 5000-82, 5093-9 and 7000-37 were built new as ‘Castles’ and Nos. 4000, 4009, 4016, 4032, 4037 and 5083-92 were rebuilds of Churchward’s ‘Stars. Finally there was No. 111, rebuilt from the 4-6-2 ‘Great Bear’. The majority were named after castles, but there were some variations, and there was a certain amount of renaming. Four notable commemorative names may be mentioned, No. 5069 ‘Isambard Kingdom Brunel’, 7007 ‘Great Western’, 7017 ‘G.J.Churchward; and 7037, the last of the class, and the last express engine built at the famous works, turned out in 1950, was appropriately named ‘Swindon’. No. 4082 ‘Windsor Castle’ was driven by the late King George V on the occasion of a Royal visit to Swindon works in 1924, and bore a suitable commemorative plate. It was desired to use this engine to haul the funeral train from Paddington to Windsor in 1952, but it happened to be in the works for repair and an exchange on name and number plate was made with No. 7013 ‘Bristol Castle’, which engine actually performed the duty under the guise of ‘Windsor Castle’, which it retained, as the plates were left as they were.Lyonshall CastleAll of the Castles were still in service in 1959 with the exception of No. 4091 and the rebuilds Nos. 111, 4000, 4009 (latterly numbered 100), 4016 and 4032. The only alteration of note has been the recent fitting of double blast pipes and chimneys to several of the class. No. 5005 ran in 1935 with a particularly ugly form of semi-streamlining, fortunately only for a short time.
Driving wheels – 6’ 8½”, Cylinders (4) – 16”x 26”, Pressure 225 lb., Tractive effort – 31625 lb., Weight – 79 tons 17cwt., Br classification – 7P

5005 streamlinedGWR 4-6-0 semi-streamlined ‘Castle’ class No 5005 ‘Manorbier Castle’ standing light engine on the middle road, Leamington Station circa 1936.


Some Early Lines – The Plym Valley Railway

Some Early Lines

The Plym Valley Railway

Train Pic B.MillsPhoto: B.Mills

The Plym Valley Railway is a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) heritage railway based on what was once a part of the now-closed South Devon and Tavistock Railway, a branch line of the Great Western Railway in Devon, England.

The line was originally part of the South Devon and Tavistock Railway, a 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) broad-gauge railway linking Plymouth with Tavistock in Devon, England. This opened in 1859, was converted to 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) in 1892 and closed in 1962.GabionsPlymouth: Plym Valley Railway

Making gabions and erecting permanent fencing south west of the new terminus of the ‘heritage’ railway at Plym Bridge. The embankment will be built up against the gabions to allow construction of a siding or loop line. The railway is on the formation of the Great Western’s Plymouth-Tavistock branch which closed in the 1960s. The present society was formed in 1980 and in 2008 ran three-quarters of a mile to Lee Moor Crossing from its base near Marsh Mills. Opening to Plym Bridge will extend the route length to 1.5 miles  © Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 Local enthusiasts set up a group in 1982 to restore part of the line as the Plym Valley Railway. The first section re-opened in May 2008 when trains could operate over 0.75 miles (1.2 km) of track as far as Lee Moor crossing, the site where the 4 ft 6 in (1,372 mm) gauge Lee Moor Tramway (now the West Devon Way cycle path) used to cross the line on the level. A new station was constructed just north of the site of the original Marsh Mills railway station as that site is occupied by a line that serves the Marsh Mills china clay plant. The new station was provided with a shop, buffet and small museum.PlatformPlymouth: Plym Valley Railway

New platform and northern terminus of the railway by Plym Bridge car park. On the formation of the Great Western branch line from Plymouth to Tavistock (and Launceston)  © Copyright Martin Bodman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

 The preserved line was extended to Plym Bridge on 30 December 2012, bringing it to 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length.

The 0-4-0ST steam locomotive “Albert” returned to service in December 2007 after receiving major repairs to its boiler. Albert has operated on all passenger trains and diesel No. 13002 has been used regularly on engineering trains. In 2009 preparation work commenced on returning 0-6-0ST “Byfield” to steam, seeing the locomotive stripped down to its main components for assessment.

 The Plym Valley Railway is based at Marsh Mills which is close to the A38 road near Plymouth. It operates trains as far as Plym Bridge._Plym_Bridge_1600_ex_Marsh_B.Mills_30-12-12_[1]Photo: B.Mills1402052_468576886588178_251619902_oFree buses will be running on all of the December running days:2013.12.01 Timetable (Portrait)-1For further details – http://www.plymrail.co.uk/


Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era 1908 – ‘Pacific’ Great Western Railway

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era

1908 – ‘Pacific’

Great Western Railway 

The Great BearThe engine as running in 1920.

This famous engine, No. 111 ‘The Great Bear’, was the sole representative of its class.  It was for many years the only main line ‘Pacific’ in the country, and although this type was later extensively used by the LMS, LNER and Southern Railways, it was never revived on the GWR.  It was the most powerful engine in the country in its day, but owing to its weight had to be restricted to  the main line between London and Bristol, and that was probably the reason why the class was never multiplied.  In 1924 it was rebuilt as a 4-6-0 of the ‘Castle’ class, and renamed ‘Viscount Churchill’.  In this form it lasted until 1953.

Driving wheels – 6’ 8½”,  Cylinders (4) 15”x 26”,  Pressure – 225 lb.,  Tractive effort – 29430 lb.,  Weight – 97¼ tons

Viscount Churchill

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era 1903 – 2-8-0 Great Western Railway

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era

1903 – 2-8-0

Great Western Railway

 2881 as running in 1930No. 2881 as running in 1930

J.G.Churchward’s 2-8-0 mineral engine of 1903 was the first of its type in the country, and was in many ways well in advance of its time, as it remained the standard Great Western heavy goods type for the rest of that Company’s existence.


The initial engine was at first numbered 97, and after two years trials a further twenty were put in hand, which came out as Nos. 2801-20.  Nos. 2821-30 followed in 1907, Nos. 2831-55 between 1911 and 1913, and 2856-83 in 1918-19.  The original 97 had by then become No.2800.


All were eventually fitted with superheaters.  After a lapse of nineteen years construction was again resumed under Collett’s superintendency, the new engines differing from their predecessors only in the provision of side window cabs and one or two other details.  These were Nos. 2884-99, and 3800-66, which were all built between 1938 and 1942.  The whole class remained intact until 1958, when No. 2800 was withdrawn.


Driving wheels – 4’ 7½”,  Cylinders – (2) 18½”x 30”,  Pressure – 225 lb.,  Tractive effort – 35380 lb.,  Weight – 75 tons 10 cwt (2800-2883),  76 tons 5 cwt (2884 series)


Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era 1902 – ‘Saint’ Class Great Western Railway

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era

1902 – ‘Saint’ Class

Great Western Railway

No. 2971 'Albion' as running in 1930No. 2971 ‘Albion’ as running in 1930.

William Dean’s No. 100 which appeared in 1902 was destined to become the forerunner of a long series of 4-6-0 engines on the GWR which have since achieved worldwide fame.  It was a 2-cylinder machine, and although built with a parallel boiler, it nevertheless embodied all the essentials of the familiar outline perpetuated in the many series of 2- and 4-cylinder 4-6-0s which followed it.

1 Lady of Lynn

Two further engines, Nos. 98 and 171, followed in 1903, and these were undoubtedly the work of Churchward, who had meanwhile succeeded Dean as locomotive superintendent.  Probably the design of the original No.100 was more Churchward’s than Dean’s, but nevertheless the name of the latter, at first just ‘Dean’, but later ‘William Dean’ was most befittingly bestowed on No. 100.

No. 98 (later ‘Vanguard’ and subsequently ‘Ernest Cunard’) and 171 ‘Albion had coned boilers from the start, and in 1905 nineteen further engines appeared, of which No. 172 and 179-90 came out as ‘Atlantics’, whilst 173-8 were 4-6-0s.  ‘Albion’ also ran as 4-4-2 about this period, but eventually all were converted or re-converted to the 4-6-0 type.

2 Madresfield Court

In 1906 there appeared No. 2901, notable as being the first engine to be built with a modern type superheater.  It was of the Schmidt pattern, but was later replaced by the standard GWR Swindon type, eventually applied to the whole class.  No. 2901 became ‘Lady Superior’ and the rest of the batch, Nos. 2902-10, were also named after ‘Ladies’.  Nos. 2911-30, built in 1907, took the names of ‘Saints’, whilst the final lot, 2931-55, of 1911-13, were ‘Courts’.  The term ‘Saint’ in later years applied to the whole class, including the original engines, 100, 98, and 171-90, which had become 2900, 2988, and 2971-90.

4 Caynham Court

There were many detail differences at various periods, particularly as regards boilers, but the principal variations to note were with regard to No. 2935 ‘Caynham Court’, modified in 1931 with Poppett valve gear, and No. 2925 ‘Saint Martin’, rebuilt in 1924 with 6’ 0” wheels and renumbered 4900.  As such as it became the prototype of the mixed traffic ‘Hall’ class, later multiplied in considerable numbers.

Scrapping commenced in 1931 with No. 2985 ‘Peveril of the Peak’, and ‘William Dean’ itself went in 1932.  The last in service, apart from the rebuilt ‘Saint Martin’, which survived until 1959, was 2920 Saint David, withdrawn in 1953.

No. 100 as built – Driving wheels – 6’ 8½”,  Cylinders (2) – 18”x 30”,  Pressure – 200 lb.,  Tractive effort – 20530 lb.,  Weight – 67 tons 16 cwt.

The later engines as finally running – Driving wheels – 6’ 8½”,  Cylinders (2) – 18½”x 30”,  Pressure – 225 lb.,  Tractive effort – 24395 lb.,  Weight – 72 tons.

3 Highnam Court

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era 1895 ‘Duke of Cornwall’ Class Great Western Railway

Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era

1895 ‘Duke of Cornwall’ Class

Great Western Railway

No.3204 ‘Earl of Dartmouth’ as turned out from Swindon in 1936.  This was actually a combined reconstruction of No.3271 ‘Eddystone’ and 3439 ‘Weston-Super-Mare’.

This class consisted originally of sixty engines built between 1895 and 1899, numbered 3252-91 and 3312-31.  The first of them was named ‘Duke of Cornwall’ and they were constructed principally for the hilly routes in the West Country.  Between 1906 and 1909 twenty of them were rebuilt with larger boilers and became in effect a new class, known as the ‘Bulldogs’.  These were renumbered 3300-19 and the forty unconverted engines were condensed into one series as 3252-91.  The ‘Bulldogs’ were eventually added to in considerable numbers by new construction, and this class finally ran from 3300-3454, the later examples having straight frames whereas the earlier ones followed the original ‘Duke’ design with a graceful curve over each of the outside cranks.

GWR 4-4-0 No 3252 ‘Duke of Cornwall’, the founding member of the class, is seen with an inspection coach during the quadrupling of the lines near Knowle and Dorridge. The new track was laid to the south of the existing trackwork as can be seen in this photograph. C1934-6 Built at Swindon works in May 1895 it was superheated in July 1923 requiring a longer smokebox and remained in service until withdrawn from Aberystwyth shed in August 1937 to be scrapped at Swindon works soon afterwards.  warwickshirerailways.com

The unrebuilt ‘Dukes’ continued in service with sundry modifications to the boilers and mountings, but in 1929 No.3265 ‘Tre Pol and Pen’ was rebuilt with a new frame of the straight variety from a scrapped ‘Bulldog’, No.3365, and as such became the prototype for what was nominally a new class introduced in 1936.  Although officially classified as new engines, these were in effect a combination of ‘Dukes’ and ‘Bulldogs’ , the boilers and cabs of the former being allied to the frames of the latter class, in both cases from engines that were being concurrently withdrawn from service.  The result was a hybrid which has for obvious reasons earned itself the nickname of ‘Dukedogs’.  29 of these reconstructions were turned out between 1936 and 1939, numbered 3200-28.  The first ones were originally given the name of ‘Earls’, but these were soon afterwards transferred to new engines of the ‘Castle’ class, since when the ‘Dukedogs’ have remained nameless.

4 – 4 – 0 No 3277 “Earl of Devon” at the shed in 1930.

     This Duke Class locomotive was built in January 1897 for working the gradients of Devon and Cornwall, but these locos were spread around the GWR region in early 1923 when they were replaced by newer locos. In May 1930 the name was removed from the loco when it was rebuilt as an ‘Earl’ or ‘Dukedog’ class of locomotive. 3277 was withdrawn from service in April 1939. amblecotehistorysociety.org.uk

By 1946 only eleven of the original ‘Dukes’ remained, and these were renumbered into the 9000s, corresponding with their original numbers in the 3200s, i.e. No.3254 ‘Cornubia’ became 9054, and so on.  At the same time, ‘Dukedogs’ were altered to 9000-28.  The last of the ‘Dukes’ went in 1951, but most of the ‘Dukedogs’ remained in service until 1957, although two of them had gone in 1948.  By the close of 1959 only about four of these remained.

The ‘Dukes’ themselves had long since disappeared from the Cornish scene, and of later years most of the survivors, together with the ‘Dukedogs’, were to be found on the Cambrian lines in North Wales.

As originally built – Driving wheels – 5’ 7½”,  Cylinders – 18”x 26”,  Pressure – 160 lb.,  Tractive effort – 16848 lb.,  Weight – 46 tons.

As reconstructed – Driving wheels – 5’ 7½”,  Cylinders – 18”x 26”,  Pressure – 180 lb.,  Tractive effort – 18955 lb.,  Weight – 49 tons.

9017 ‘Earl of Berkeley’ “Dukedog” BR 2009

Now painted in BR black departing Horsted Keynes at the Giants of Steam Weekend. Bluebell Railway 24 Oct 2009 – pix42day