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GWR Hall 4900 Class No. 4953 "Pitchford Hall"

Pitchford Hall

Photo: John Titlow

Pitchford Hall is a member of the GWR 4900, or "Hall," Class of locomotives, designed by Charles Collett. 259 locomotives of this class were built, and the design is said to have heavily contributed to LMS Standard 5 and LNER Thompson B1 classes. The class latterly received a 5MT power classification under BR. 11 examples have been saved for preservation, several have made it back onto the mainline, including Pitchford Hall and one of which, Olton Hall, has gained international fame through becoming the 'Hogwarts Express' locomotive.

Pitchford Hall was built at Swindon in August 1929 at a cost of £4,375, and was first allocated to Bristol, Bath Road shed. Latterly in August 1950 it was transferred to Cardiff Canton and fitted with BR type piston valves and liners February 1956 but reverted back to WR standard within two years. In March 1959 she was allocated to Swindon and then transferred from Cardiff Canton to Cardiff East Dock shed in September 1962. Her last years were spent at Cardiff East Dock before being withdrawn in May 1963 having covered 1,344,464 miles, and was sent to Woodham's Brothers Scrapyard in Barry in November 1963.

Pitchford Hall was the 150th departure from Barry in February 1984, when it was taken to Tyseley Locomotive Works where a comprehensive overhaul was undertaken for a reportedly seven figure sum. She moved again under her own power in February 2004, making her first public appearance in 42 years at Crewe in September 2005, being seen by over 40,000 people.

'Hall' class locomotives were used all over the Great Western and Western Region. Their duties were diverse from standing in for failed 'Castles' on expresses (and keeping to tight schedules) to heavy freight work and secondary passenger services. The impressive acceleration of these engines made them particularly suited to the duties that required frequent stops, where the smaller wheels gave greater adhesion and therefore reduced slipping when starting from standstill.

The 'Hall' class and other GWR 2-cylinder engines all have a distinctive 'bark' to their exhaust notes, which is one thing that helps to maintain enthusiasm throughout the generations. Their long service also ensured they wore a number of liveries. This included the passenger class fully lined GWR green until 1948 and nationalisation, then during the early BR years all mixed traffic classes on all regions carried the lined black livery. In 1956 some discretion was allowed by BR, and the Western Region was allowed to paint mixed traffic engines in fully lined Brunswick green.

Pitchford Hall returned to the mainline in December 2005, and operated a number of special mainline charter trains during 2007 and 2009, but has also visited a number of heritage railways, including West Somerset Railway, Llangollen (where it double-headed with City of Truro), Mid Hants Railway (standing in for King Edward II) and Great Central Railway, where it has hauled passenger as well as charter freight and even demonstration Travelling Post Office trains to the delight of visitors.

Current Status: Undergoing Major Overhaul

Pitchford Hall - Key facts
Driving wheel diameter6'0"
Bogie wheel diameter3'0"
Tractive effort27,275lb
Boiler typeGWR No. 1, tapered, c/w superheaters, outside steam pipes & top-feed
Boiler pressure225lb/in?
Boiler length14'10"
Cylinder bore18?"
Cylinder stroke30"
Grate area27 square feet
Overall locomotive and tender length63'?"
Overall width8ft 11 ? inches
Overall height13'3?"
Locomotive weight69 tons empty, 75 tons full
Tender weight46 tons 14 cwt full
Overall locomotive weight121 tons 14 cwt full
Tender capacity6 tons coal, 4000 gallons water
BR Power Classification5MT

GWR 5101 Large Prairie, No. 4141

4141 - Martin Hawkes

4141 is a member of the GWR "5101" class, commonly known as a Large Prairie, being 41ft (12.5m) in length and 79.71 tonnes. It is a medium sized tank engine with a 2-6-2T wheel arrangement and was designed for suburban and local passenger services, often seen with GWR and BR suburban coaches, such as those under restoration at EOR.

The class was built between 1903 and 1949, and totalled 209 examples. 4141 was built in Swindon in 1946, and was allocated to Gloucester (Horton Rd) for all of its working life, working on banking duties before latterly working expresses to London.

Thanks to the proximity of Barry scrap yard to the former GWR system, 10 examples were saved for preservation. 4141 was withdrawn in February 1963 and reached Barry in November 1964, being saved for preservation in early 1973. 4141 and its classmates have proved to be ideally sized for use on heritage railways, handling the shorter journey times and typical loads, being economic and reliable performers.

Facing: North Weald
Current Status: Awaiting Overhaul
4141 - Key facts
Driving wheel diameter5ft 8 inches
Leading & Trailing wheel diameters3 ft 2 inches & 3ft 8 inches
Tractive effort24,300 pounds
Boiler typeGWR No. 2,
Boiler pressure200 lb/in?
Boiler length11ft
Cylinder bore18 inches
Cylinder stroke30 inches
Grate area20.35 square feet
Overall locomotive length41ft
Overall width 
Overall height 
Locomotive weight78 tons 9cwt empty
Tender weightn/a
Overall locomotive weighttons 14 cwt full
Tank capacity2000 gallons, 4 tons coal
BR Power Classification4MT

Hawthorne Leslie No.3437 "Isabel"


Hawthorne Leslie-built saddle tank 0-6-0 locomotive 'Isabel' was our first steam locomotive purchase. Built in 1919 to an order (number 3437) from ICI foodstuffs she was delivered new to their Blackley (Manchester) dye plant that year. Isabel was to spend the whole of her working life at the plant and withdrawal from service finally came in 1969.

During her time with ICI she had a fairly uneventful career, the only known incident occurred during the General Strike of 1926. Whilst being driven by a team of enthusiastic amateurs she ran away, demolished the locomotive shed doors and wrote off her sister engine which was standing in the shed! It is rumoured that this is where she gained the flat spot on her wheels which she still carries. After withdrawal 'Isabel' went straight in to preservation at the fledgling Somerset and Dorset Trust Site at the former Radstock Station site.

However restoration to working order was to wait a few more years. When the Radstock site closed and the Trust relocated to Washford on the West Somerset Railway in 1975, Isabel followed and she was to wait until 1998 for restoration to working order to be commenced. Not wanting to rush the process it wasn't until October 2005 for Isabel to be revealed to the world in all her restored glory. Used for shunting the S&D Trust yard she certainly turned a few heads!

Shortly after this in 2007 the locomotive changed hands and travelled north to the Cambrian Railways site at Llynncs Junction. Little used she was soon made available for sale again and in early 2010 she became our first steam locomotive.

Facing: Ongar
Current Status: Undergoing Overhaul