Broad gauge (and early standard gauge)

The broad gauge of the Great Western is associated with one man, namely Brunel. Fortunately, Brunel rapidly delegated locomotive affairs to Daniel Gooch. Initial progress was both literally and figuratively rapid and the broad gauge operated some remarkably fast train services, but then the standard gauge caught up, and eventually overtook the broad gauge and locomotive development shifted elsewhere including to Wolverhampton on the GWR (where the Armstrongs and Dean rekindled locomotive development) and then gradually returned to Swindon as action shifted towards conversion. One of the problems with the broad gauge was that the vertical loading gauge was only slightly greater than that on standard gauge lines. This probably indicates that Brunel was not fully aware of the mechanical potential for a broader gauge.

General works

Railway Correspondence & Travel Society. The locomotives of the Great Western Railway. Part 2. Broad gauge. 1952.
This remains the work of reference on broad gauge locomotives. Arrangements should be made either to transfer this to machine readable format or an endeavour should be made to reprint it.

Awdry, Christopher. Brunel's broad gauge railway: commemorating the Centenary of the GWR's gauge conversion. Sparkford: Oxford Publishing, 1992. 144pp.
Chapter 7: Locomotives and rolling stock. One page bibliography (only books cited with any hope of finding them). Some of the illustrations are based on models..

Bryan, Tim. The locomotives that launched the GWR. Rly Wld, 1988, 49, 262-4.
The locomotives ordered by Brunel before the appointment of Gooch. Notes that the RCTS History Part 2 gives much further information.

Snell, J.B. Railways: mechanical engineering. 1971.

Little has been said about locomotives built for Brunel's seven-foot gauge, mainly because they formed a group which died out completely with the abolition of the broad gauge in 1892 and'had in any case become moribund long before. No important new broad-gauge design appeared after the 1850s, and right up to the end the principal expresses were worked by 4-2-2s which were direct descendants of Gooch's Iron Dukes of 1847. No real advantage was ever taken of the engineering possibilities of the broad gauge; what eventually killed it, and its fate was clear enough once the Gauge Commission had reported to Parliament in favour of standardization on the 4 ft 8½ in gauge in 1846, was the commercial drawback caused by the break of gauge. Before 1846 there was certainly some highly original thinking on the subject of broad gauge locomotive design; unfortunately. most of it, largely Brunel's, was entirely unsound and right from the start the best broad gauge locomotives were those which adopted standard gauge design principles, at first on a bigger and better scale.

Nock, O.S. The Great Western Railway in the nineteenth century. London: Ian Allan, 1962. 200pp + col. front. + plates.
In some respects an unusual book for Nock in that it begins with a short bibliography which cites MacDermot, Holcroft, Chapman, Rolt (his superb biography of Brunel), Ahrons (Locomotive and train working in the latter part of the 19th century), Foxwell and Farrer (still to enter the portal of Steamindex) and most surprisingly Tuplin (Great Western steam). Thus it is a rather better than average work and from it is possible to gain some impression of what the broad gauge must have been like, although unfortunately for those interested in the broad gauge per se the book also includes the Company's "narrow gauge" activities. It is excellently illustrated.

Waters, Laurence. The Great Western broad gauge. 1999.

Mainly locomotives; includes the Bristol & Exeter, South Devon and Vale of Neath Railways and the period of conversion. Very brief general texts plus illustrations with excellent captions.


Hercules class: Nasmyth, Gaskell, 1842
First six-coupled engines owned by Great Western: four supplied by Nasmyth, Gaskell & Co. in 1842, with 5ft driving wheels and a total wheelbase of 12ft 6in. No 45 Goliah (Awdry suggests mis-spelling of Goliath, but LMR also had a Goliah): sent to the South Devon, where it blew up at Plympton (Hewison Locomotive boiler explosions, p. 30). It was rebuilt however, and was withdrawn in June 1871.

Premier class. Swindon, 1846

First locomotive completed at Swindon, although its boiler was built outside contractor. Premier was turned out in February 1846, and eleven followed during next two years. They had haystack fireboxes and were the last broad gauge type built with this feature. Bergion was the longest-lived, not being broken up until January 1872, although it had been withdrawn from service 13 months earlier, ahead of several others of the class.

Pyracmon class

The six locomotives of the Pyracmon class were built at Swindon, and, like the Premier class were 0-6-0 goods engines. Though the driving wheels were the same size, the total wheelbase was about a foot longer, so that the engines themselves were larger than the Premiers, and had the round-topped firebox which was to become standard from now on. They came out between November 1847 and the next July, and lasted slightly longer than their predecessors - Behemoth and Alligator were both scrapped in December 1873, the former being the elder by four months. Awdry

4-4-0: Gooch: 7ft coupled wheels: 1855

Sekon (183-4): Robin Hood illustrated 17 x 24 cyls. Ten supplied R. Stephenson: each ran about 500,000 miles (Sekon)


Fire Fly class: Gooch

7ft driving wheels. According to Awdry supplied by seven builders: Sharp, Roberts; Tayleur of Vulcan Foundry; and Fenton Murray & Jackson

Sun class: Gooch

6ft diameter driving wheels. Smaller version of Fire Fly class according to Awdry. Three builders iuncluding Sharp Roberts.

Hambleton, F.C. "Lord of the Isles", GWR. Loco. Rly. Carr. Wagon Rev., 1944, 50, 83


3021 type

Dean built eight convertible 2-2-2s in 1891. See Fryer.

Bristol & Exeter Railway

Lowe, James W. British steam locomotive builders. Cambridge: Goose, 1975. 705pp.
Lowe states that 23 broad gauge locomotives were constructed at Bristol.

Pearson 4-2-4Ts

There is no doubt that the colossal 4-2-4T locomotives, of which eight were built for the Bristol and Exeter Railway to Mr Pearson's design, were the most startling and interesting of any that were built by Rothwells. For someone used to the minute 'Bury' types on the London & Birmingham Railway, to be con fronted by one of these monsters at say Bristol or Exeter would have been a shattering experience. They had 16½" x 24" inside cylinders which protruded at the front end beneath the smokebox. The driving wheels were 9 ft diameter and were flangeless with in side and outside bearings. The two bogies had 4 ft diameter wheels and were equipped with ball and socket swivels. Brakes were fitted between the trailing bogie wheels, and large sandboxes were fitted in front of the driving wheels.

The domeless boiler was 4' 0½" diameter and 10' 9" long, the safety valves being housed above the flush top firebox. Coke was the fuel used, and the weight in working order of the locomotive was 42 tons. The water tank was fixed between the frames.

At the time (1854) they were the fastest in service and a recorded speed of 82 mph was made by one of them, running down Wellington Bank, the scene of other high speed trips.

Tuplin Saints and sinners pp. 41-2

Among the most astonishing locomotives ever to run in regular service on a British railway were the eight 4-2-4 well-tank engines of the Bristol and Exeter Railway.'They were built by Rothwell at Bolton in the period from 1853 to 1854 to the design of James Pearson, the Locomq;tive Superintendent of the B &E. Among their distinctions was a driving-wheel diameter of 9 ft.- the largest ever used in Britain - and the multiple tying of the boiler to the frame.

Ahead of the. driving wheels were two transverse plates, about two feet apart, the rear one reaching up above the centre-line of., the boiler, the other not so high and apparently bolted to flanges attached to the barrel. (One must say 'apparently' as the very similar plates on Churchward engines were not attached to the barrel.) The front end of the barrel was joined to a narrow wrapper-type smokebox, bulged at the bottom over the cylinders which were prominent above the running board.

In addition, the boiler had transverse brackets extended over the driving wheels and so received support from the four driving axleboxes through vertical rods and assemblies of four rubber rings . enclosed in metal cylinders. The only brake blocks were between the wheels of the rear bogie.

One of these engines is said to have come down Wellington bank at over 80 m.p.h., which is not difficult there, and indeed application of the skimpy brakes would not have made much difference.

More significant information would be about the weight of train that any engine of this class could reliably take up Wellington bank without assistance.

These engines were scrapped in 1868-73 and four rather similar ones, were afterwards built at Bristol. These had 8 ft 10 in. driving wheels, 18 in. x 24 in. cylinders, different wheel-spacings and fewer unconventional features. At least one (No. 40) had a cab in the form of a single sheet bent to form a front weatherboard, an all-over roof and a rear weatherboard.

The four engines came into Great Western stock with the takeover of January I, 1876, and were numbered 2001 to 2004. As Armstrong believed cabs to be dangerous, each engine ran under Great Western rule with a front weatherboard but no rear one.

No. 40 (2002) at least was given brakes on the wheels of the leading bogie and also acquired in the front and rear of each driving wheel a long narrow sand box extending from the running board down nearly to rail level.

By July 1876 No. 2001 had been repaired at Swindon and shordy afterwards, on July 27, ran off the road and overturned at Long Ashton on the approach to Bristol when working the up Dutchman, killing the enginemen. The driver, long used to the engine, had complained that she had not been running properly after returning from Swindon and that 'she would have him up in the hedge or down in the ditch'. This was consistent with tight fitting of the driving axleboxes in the hornblocks which were very much bigger than any previously seen at Swindon, where it was (even in 1876) the practice to leave less clearance in this crucial region than was given in B.&E. workshop practice.

Awdry 98/9; 102-3

The observation that Brunel was better at designing railways than he was at designing engines is not a new one. This became apparent even before the Great Western tried to run a passenger service with the results of what he had specified to the locomotive builders, and it was Daniel Gooch who had to pull Brunel's chestnuts out of the fire.

"I felt very uneasy about the working of these machines," he remarked in his memoirs, "feeling sure they would have enough to do to drive themselves along the road. The idea Mr Brunel acted upon was to get a slow speed in the piston with a high velocity in the wheel, and this was right enough if the power of the cylinders & boiler had been at all in proportion." It was not perhaps so much that the principles were wrong as that Brunel felt he had to limit the weight of his engines to a maximum of 6+ tons, which tended to restrict the size of the two heaviest components, the boiler and the cylinders. Gooch comments:

"I then went to inspect the engines building. I was not much pleased with the design of the engines ordered; they had very small boilers & cylinders and very large wheels. Those made by the Vulcan Co. had wheels 8 feet diameter, and 3 of them only 12in cylinders with 18in stroke [sic they actually had a 16in stroke]. 2 of Mather, Dixon's had 10 feet wheels and 14 inch cylinders.

with very small boilers [these were Ajax and Mars - the wheels were made of solid iron plate]. Those made by Hawthorns were on a patent plan of Tom Harrison's [Thomas Elliott Harrison, Engineer of the Stanhope & Tyne Railway, and later Chief Engineer of the NER and also its General Manager], having the engine and boiler on separate carriages & coupled with ball and socket steam pipes; these were immense affairs, the boilers were large and the cylinders were, I think, 16in dia and about 2 feet stroke [actually' 20 inch]. In one [Hurricane] the cylinders were coupled direct to the driving wheels, which were 10 feet dia, and the other [Thunderer] had a spur and pinion (3 to I) with 6 feet wheels, making the wheels equal to 18 feet diameter [the gear ratio was actually 27: 10].

The same plan of gearing was used in the 2 engines built by the Haigh Foundry; their wheels were 6 feet dia and the gearing 2 to 1, but the cylinders were small." Gooch's memory was at fault again in regard to these last two - later named Snake and Viper, their driving wheels were 6ft 4in in diameter and the gear ratio was 3:2. Be that as it may, the engines sound a very peculiar collection, although, once again, this is to look at the situation in hindsight. In August 1837 very few people knew anything about locomotive engineering: indeed Stephenson had not been without his problems in this regard, and Brunel was aiming for more power and speed than Stephenson had been.

Fortunately two engines acquired from Robert Stephenson & Co. were orthodox in design: Brunei had had nothing to do with them. They had been built to a gauge of 5ft 6in for the New Orleans Railway, which then decided it did not want them. They were regauged, and as North Star and Morning Star became the mainstay of the GWR's early services. Ten more similar engines were ordered, and were delivered between July 1839 and November 1841.

North Star, built with 6ft 6in driving wheels, had 7-foot wheels substituted on regauging. It reached Maidenhead by barge on 28th November 1837, six months before the rails got there, but it worked the first Great Western passenger train and soon became the most reliable locomotive in the stud.

By a strange coincidence, Gooch may have had a hand in these engines. He writes that while working in the North of England "... drawings I made for locomotive engines. . . were, oddly enough, two engines on the Gt Western Railway. . . Erom some financial reason all the engines we made were not sent out. . . I was much impressed in making these drawings with the importance of the wider gauge, & no doubt thus early became an advbcate for the broad-gauge system, altho' at the time Mr Brunel had not propounded his views on the subject and I did not foresee how important a matter it was to be in my future life." Gooch later went to Bristol to . . . "try and get an order for some of the Gt Western broad-gauge engines which they had then determined upon building." Although the later ten engines all had 7-foot drivers, Morning Star retained its smaller size wheels. There were other detail differences between the locomotives wheelbase, cylinder-size and so on, but the general design and the sandwich frame were to influence GWR practice for just under a century. All engines in the class were withdrawn between 1864 and 1871, No. 272 Shooting Star being the last to go, in September of the latter year.

Meanwhile Gooch had designed his first engines, many of which were to enter service before the later 'Stars' had been delivered. "I was", he writes, "shortly after, with his [Brunei's] full consent and support, instructed to prepare designs for the future stock of which it had become necessary to order a large quantity.

These drawings I took great pains with, giving every detail much thought and consideration, and the result was designs for 2 classes of engines. . ." There were 62 locomotives in the 'Fire Fly' class, supplied by seven different builders. Sharp, Roberts & Co. of Manchester was the only firm included which had built any of Brunei's first attempts. Two of the three engines they built then survived, albeit in a rebuilt form, longer than any other supplied at the same time. The other long-lasting ones were those built by Charles Tayleur & Co. of the Vulcan Foundry, ". . . the only ones I could at all depend on", writes Gooch. The 'Fire Flys' were 7-footers, with a 2-2-2 wheel arrangement, and the class averaged half a million miles of service each. The 20 built by Fenton, Murray & Jackson of Leeds had a wheelbase two inches longer (6ft 8in + 6ft 8in) than the others, and were reported as the best of the class. One of this batch, Ixion, was the last to remain in service, being withdrawn in July 1879.

The 2-2-2 'Sun' class was a smaller version of the 'Fire Flys'. They had driving wheels of 6 feet diameter, and came from three builders, of which Sharp, Roberts & Co. was again one. These locomotives, lacking adhesive weight, were rebuilt as 2-2-2 saddle-tanks with a haystack firebox, and from about 1865 formed part of the 'WoIr class. Gazelle survived until June 1879, by which time, like their larger counterparts, each had an average service of about half a million miles.

Gooch's next essay was also six-wheeled, but to a 2-4-0 configuration, the 'Leo' class. There were 18 engines, built by three manufacturers - Fenton, Murray had three, but the bulk (12) came from Rothwell & Co. of Bolton. They were goods engines, with coupled wheels of 6ft 5in diameter and haystack fireboxes, and were delivered between January 1841 and July 1842. Several of the class helped out on the South Devon Railway during the second half of the I 840s. Like the 'Suns', these too were later to be rebuilt as saddle-tanks: average mileage for the class was 400,000, and the last two, (Cancer and Pisces), were withdrawn in June 1874.

No more broad gauge engines were built until 1846, at which point we reach the first locomotive completed at Swindon. Its boiler built by an outside contractor, Premier was turned out in February 1846, and was joined by eleven others over the next two years. These 0-6-0 goods engines with haystack fireboxes were the last broad gauge type built with this feature. Bergion was the longest-lived, not being broken up until January 1872, although it had been withdrawn from service 13 months earlier, ahead of several others of the class. Great Western was the first locomotive built entirely at Swindon. This too appeared in 1846, a 2-2-2 with outside sandwich frames, 8-foot driving wheels and a total wheelbase of 16 feet. If Gooch's intention was to show what the broad gauge really could do, the locomotive wasted no time: on 1st June 1846 it covered the 194 miles between Paddington and Exeter in 208 minutes (returning in 211 minutes), and on 13th June did even better, reaching Paddington from Swindon (77 miles) in 78 minutes. Too much weight rested on the front axle however, and after some months in service it broke near Shrivenham, while the engine was hauling a 'down' passenger train. The front framing was lengthened, and the locomotive rebuilt as a 4-2-2, in which form it served for another 13 years. It was broken up in December 1870, having covered 370,687 miles.

While Great Western was on trial, Gooch produced a smaller 2-2-2 type, which, with one exception (Witch, 7ft 6in) had 7-foot driving wheels. The six engines in . the class varied greatly in detail. They had been built for the Exeter expresses, but when this duty was taken over by the Pearson 8-footers in due course, did much work on the Birmingham line. All ceased work in 1871 with an average mileage of 600,000 to their credit.

The 'Iron Duke' class, arguably the most famous of all Gooch's engines, appeared between 1847 and 1851. They were a result of the trials with Great Western, 4-2-2s with driving wheels 8 feet in diameter, and the first six engines each had a net wheelbase of 18ft 6in and weighed 35 tons 10 cwt. The next 16, although only 2in longer in the wheelbase, and with a smaller firebox, weighed 38 tons 4 cwt. A further seven were built in 1854/5 by Rothwell & Co. and bore names relating to the (then) recent conflict in the Crimea. Although the whole class had been withdrawn by 1880, the locomotive names were perpetuated in new engines which ran until the final demise of the broad gauge.

Avalanche was a one-off saddle-tank built by Stothert & Slaughter, of Bristol, in 1846. It was six-coupled, with 5-foot driving wheels, and became one of the 'Banking' class engines. Reportedly stationed at Box in 1849, it seems likely to have been used to help trains through the tunnel. It ceased work in 1865, but was not withdrawn from stock for another five years.

Bacchus was unique, if not completely new, for it utilised a boiler previously built for Hurricane, one of the early engines, and the inside frames may have come from the same source. A goods engine running on the standard 5-foot driving wheels, it came out in May 1849 an.d was withdrawn in July 1870.

Between 1849 and 1856 several groups of 4-4-0 saddle tank engines with inside sandwich frames were built either by or for the GWR. Swindon built the first two in 1849 and this was followed QY a group of 13 from R. & W. Hawthorn during 1854/5, the Hawthorn ones all being named after Roman poets/philosophers.

Corsair, the first of the Swindon batch, had a sandbox on top of the saddle tank, which had to be manually operated by the fireman. No doubt all firemen were relieved when the second engine, Brigand, did not perpetuate this! Both had 6-foot driving wheels and sandwich frames, and were destined for the South Devon line: they went new to Plymouth, and, returning in 1852, served until 1873, when they were sold.

The 'Waverley' class consisted of ten engines built by Robert Stephenson & Co., 7-footers mostly named after Scott characters and delivered between February and June 1855. No other 4-4-0 tender engines ran on the broad gauge, and with their rather long wheelbase (a shade under 18 feet) they were not fast. They put in some good work on the slower passenger services, however, before ceasing work in 1876, and although not as long-lived as might have been expected, the class averaged half a million Il}iles of service per engine.

Swindon next .produced the 'Victoria' class, which


Victoria class: 1856
Similar to Waverley class, but with 6ft 6in coupled wheels. The first batch (eight engines built in 1856) had a better mileage average (540,000 per engine) than Waverley class, but the second Lot, ten locomotives built in 1863/4, had a shorter life and managed only 340,000 each. Brunel, the first engine of the second batch, was the last broad gauge locomotive to run in South Wales. The whole class was withdrawn or sold between 1878 and 1881.

The eight goods locomotives of the 'Caesar' class were similar in dimensions to the 'Pyracmons', which were added to the class after the general tidy-up in the 1860s.

The 'Caesars' were introduced in 1851/2 and ceased work between 1872 and 1880, having travelled 400,000 miles each.

Four 0-6-0 saddle-tank banking locomotives were bujlt at Swindon, two in 1852 and two more in 1854. Juno, the first of them, was sold to the South Devon Railway in September 1872, which company, having already got a Juno of its own, renamed the ex-GWR one Stromboli. When the SDR came into the Great Western fold in 1876 the engine reverted to its given name, surviving until 1889.

The first of 102 0-6-0 goods engines were also introduced in 1852, being supplied in seven Lots over the next eleven years. One, Europa, of Lot 2, built in 1853, survived until just before the gauge conversion: it spent its last days at Plymouth and was the last broad gauge locomotive to travel from there up to Swindon, on 21 st May 1892. It was the only one of the class to be rebuilt - in 1869 - and the rest had all gone by 1883.

When the necessity arose for locomotives to work the Metropolitan Railway, Gooch experimented with an engine in which steam had been raised to blowing-off pressure. The fire was then dropped, and the engine, presumably light and without stops, was found to be able to run nine miles. Not a very promising prospect, a view with which Gooch seems to have agreed. The locomotives he then designed were to be his last - 2-4-0 side-tank engines, the first in the country to be fitted with condensing equipment, which consisted of two watertanks, one fitted below the boiler and the other beneath the cab. They were unusual also in that they had outside cylinders, in order to create space inside the frames for the condensing tanks. Six were built by Vulcan Foundry in 1862, and six more came from Kitson's of Leeds. The final ten were built at Swindon. They continued to haul GWR services on the 'Met' until the broad gauge rail was removed in 1869, but for the reasons already mentioned were not a great success. When the need for the condensers had gone, they were removed from most of them: five were converted into tender engines and all were withdrawn within five years from 1871. Their boilers were used for stationary work, one of them, from Lily, going for use on the SS Great Eastern.

When Gooch resigned (his notice expired on 5th October 1864), all but eleven of the locomotives built for the company were still on the books. Under his successor, Joseph Armstrong, (who had previously been in charge at Wolverhampton), the engines inevitably began to look slightly different. Sandwich frames were retained, but domes were introduced, and Stephenson's shifting-link valve gear was now preferred to Gooch's fixed-link type.

Armstrong's first engines were not built at Swindon.

The 26 'Hawthorn' class 2-4-0 tender locomotives were built in 1865/6 by Slaughter, Gruning & Co. - successors around 1856 to Stothert, Slaughter & Co., and which in turn became the Avonside Engine Co. late in 1865.

The class saw much service on the Wilts & Somerset line, and in 1877 ten engines were converted to saddle-tanks, and Pollux and Hedley (1890), and Murdock (1891) were rebuilt at Swindon. Hedley was not scrapped in 1892, but went to South Wales, first as a stone-crusher at Conwil, and later to Neath as a stationary boiler.

Although the boiler was condemned in 1914, the engine stayed at Neath - later it was removed to Swindon, where it was finally scrapped in 1929.

The 'Swindon' class, comprising 14 engines, was built at Swindon - where else? - in 1865/6. In general terms these had marked similarities with the Gooch 0-6-0 goods engines; they were sold to the Brist'Ol & Exeter during the early 1870s, only, of course, to come back to the GWR after the amalgamation six years later.

Named after important towns on the system, they did excellent work before being withdrawn between 1888 and 1891, having averaged 525,000 miles each.

The engines of the 'Sir Watkin' class were officially 'renewals' so far as Swindon was concerned. They were the second class of condensing tanks, were the only sidetanks built for the GWR in broad gauge days, and were fitted with steam domes. This class worked freight traffic on the Metropolitan, as well as passenger trains on the Hammersmith-Addison Road service. When broad gauge disappeared from the 'Met' their condensing apparatus was removed and they were sold to the South Devon Railway. They reverted to the GWR at amalgamation, and ceased work between 1888 and 1892.

There were 24 'Iron Duke' renewals too, built at Swindon between 1871 and 1888. William Dean took over from Armstrong after the first nine had appeared (1877), but they still looked like Gooch engines, with domeless boilers and outside sandwich frames. All survived until the end of the broad gauge, Great Western and Bulkeley respectively having charge of the last through train to Penzance and the last train of all, on 20th May 1892.

The Bristol & Exeter began working its own traffic on 1st May 1849, using 28 locomotives to a design by Gooch, plus a steam railmotor. In May 1850 James Pearson, hitherto Atmospheric Superintendent to the SDR, was appointed Locomotive Superintendent in place of C. H. Gregory, and the following year the decision was taken to build a locomotive works at Bristol. Thirty-five locomotives were to be built here, to both broad and 'narrow' gauge.

The first 20 engines (numerically) with which services began in 1844, however, were 4-2-2 express tender engines, a smaller version of the 'Iron Dukes'. Half were built by Stothert & Slaughter, and the second ten by Longridge & Co., of Bedlington. They had 7ft 6in driving wheels, and between 1860 and 1869 eight were rebuilt at Bristol. No.9 was the longest-lived of the class, surviving in rebuilt (1865) form until 1889. These engines were, of course, taken over by the GWR from 1876, and ended up with an average mileage of half a million apiece, although No. 19, rebuilt in 1860 and finally withdrawn in 1888 as GWR No. 2014, amassed 796,652 miles. The other eight engines were built in 1849 - again to a Gooch design - by Stothert & Slaughter. They were 0-6-0 goods engines, very similar to their Swindon contemporaries, with 5ft wheels and a total wheelbase of 15ft 6in. Rebuilt at Bristol, they were all taken over by the GWR in 1876.

Railmotor/light locomotive

The railmotor was built at Bow, by William Bridges Adams and James Samuel, the Locomotive Engineer of the Eastern Counties Railway. After experiments between Shoreditch and Cambridge with a small version, they built a larger one, calling it Fairfield and testing it late in 1848. The frames were 31ft 6in long riding on six wheels, the front pair of which were drivers 4ft in diameter. The others were 6in smaller and placed to give a total wheelbase of 28ft 4in. Power came from a vertical boiler 3ft x 6ft, transmitted by 7in diameter cylinders with a 12in stroke through reversed coupling rods 6ft 6in long.

After being in store for some time following its trials, the machine was converted, probably by Adams, to the broad gauge, and tried by the GWR on the West London line. It then moved to the B&ER, for which service the passenger accommodation (previously consisting of an open 3rd-class compartment at the front and a closed 2nd-class section at the rear), was rearranged as closed throughout, providing 16 1st-class seats in the forward section and 32 2nd-class ones in two compartments behind. Access was by two doors, side by side where a partition separated the classes. Its life on the 'Exeter' was short - it began work on the Tiverton branch on Christmas Day 1848, moving to the Clevedon and Weston branches after about two years. In 1851 the engine was separated from the carriage and given an extra pair of wheels, but was scrapped in 1856.

Pearson's first engines were 2-2-2 back and well-tanks for branch line service. Five were built, tWo by Longridge & Co., and the other three by E. B. Wilson & Co. in 1851, having 5ft 6in driving wheels and a wheelbase of 14ft 6in. Two, (Nos 31 and 32) lasted until the amalgamation. In 1853 Stothert & Slaughter built four more goods engines - these differed from the previous ones only in tubing arrangements, and, again, survived until the amalgamation.

They were followed by the only locomotives for which Pearson seems generally remembered: his 9ft, flangeless driving wheeled, 4-2-4 back and well-tanks. Eight were built by Rothwell & Co. in 1853/4 for the Exeter expresses, and very well they did their work too, as the fastest engines of their day - an instance of 81.8 mph was recorded down Wellington bank, which, with those huge driving wheels whirling would be an impressive sight now, let alone 140 years ago! They were not longlived engines however. Four, (Nos 39-42) were renewed at Bristol in 1873 and came into GWR stock, the renewal reducing the size of the drivers by two inches and converting from coke to coal-burners. No. 40 (renewed in 1873, the others were done in 1868) survived, but not in this form, until 1890 - No. 39 had been withdrawn in 1876 as a result of the Long Ashton accident, and the other three went to Swindon to be rebuilt as 4-2-2 tender engines. The driving wheel diameter was further reduced to 8ft, and the engines went on to average 500,000 miles apiece.

There were two other 4-2-4 tanks, slightly smaller than the foregoing, and with 7ft 6in driving wheels. They were the first engines built at Bristol, were never rebuilt, and passed to the GWR in 1876. No. 29 (built in 1859) was withdrawn in 1880, followed by No. 12 (1862) five years later, by which time the pair had achieved more than a million miles between them.

From 1855 to 1873 four Lots of 4-4-0 passenger saddle-tanks were built for the B&ER, six (Rothwell & Co.) in 1855/6, four (Beyer, Peacock) in 1862, ten (Vulcan Foundry) in 1867 and six (Avonsid~ Engine Co.) in 1872/3. Engines of the early batch were smaller, but all had 5ft 6in driving wheels and would have won no beauty prizes. Aesthetics notwithstanding however, they were good engines. They averaged 450,000 miles each, moving gradually west as conversion of the broad gauge proceeded. No. 2051 was involved in the Norton Fitzwarren collision of 1890, and was withdrawn at once, but many of the others saw the broad gauge out.

Stothert & Slaughter added four 0-6-0 goods engines to the B&ER stock in 1856, and in 1860 Rothwell & Co. built another pair. They had inside frames and the usual 5ft driving wheels, with a net wheelbase of 15ft 6in. Nos 54 and 56, both in the early batch, were converted to saddle-tanks in 1870, and the GWR took over all six locomotives in 1876.

In 1859 Rothwell & Co. built two 2-2-2 well-tanks, similar to the five Pearson engines of this type built in 1851 and referred to above. Numbered 57 and 58, they were withdrawn in 1877 and 1880 respectively.

A pair of 0-6-0 saddle-tank engines emerged from the Bristol works in 1866/7. They had small driving wheels (3ft 6in) and a total wheelbase of 13ft 6in, and, numbered 75 and 76, survived until 1888 and 1890 respectively. No. 76 had a larger tank and coal bunker, the latter feature having a sharply flared backplate.

February 1870 saw the appearance of Pearson's first passenger tender engines. There were ten all told, Bristol-built as replacements for earlier locomotives, and similar in style to Armstrong's 2-4-0 'Hawthorn' class. They had driving wheels 6ft 7in in diameter, and quickly gained a reputation as good, if rough-riding, engines. They averaged half a million miles apiece, and survived until 1888/92.

The last broad gauge engines designed by Pearson were also 2-4-0s, three of which were built at Bristol in 1874/5. They were unique on the B&ER in having domed boilers, and were built with an eye to conversion, although, in fact, this was never carried out. The Great Western took them over as they were and withdrew them from traffic in 1884/86. Four engines of the 119 which the 'Exeter' owned at the amalgamation remain to be described - two were 0-4-0 well-tanks, used as shunters, with 3ft 6in driving wheels, an 8ft lOin wheelbase and, unusually, outside cylinders. They were numbered 91 and 92, appeared in 1872 and 1874 respectively and had short lives which ended in 1880 and 1881. One of the others was also a four-coupled tank-engine, which came from the South Wales Mineral Railway via Brotherhood & Co., Contractors, of Chippenham. Bought in 1874, it was withdrawn seven years later. The final locomotive also came via Brotherhood, but this one was a 0-6-0 tankengine, having driving wheels 4ft 8tin in diameter. This was also bought in 1874, but lasted only until December 1876, when the Great Western withdrew it.

To begin with, services on the South Devon Railway were worked by the Great Western - or, rather, with locomotives supplied by the Great Western. The small engines sent at first had problems on the banks and curves - bearing out BruneI's earlier fears - and Gooch despatched Corsair and Brigand. These proved a success, and were followed by others, all of which returned to the GWR when, from 10th July 1852, the line was worked under contract by Messrs Evans & Geach, with engines (of Gooch design) supplied by them. In 1859 a new contract was made with Messrs Evans, Walker and Gooch (Geach had died), and on 1st July 1866 the SDR took over the working for itself.

Absorption of the SDR from 1st February 1876 added 85 locomotives to Great Western stock. Needless to say, this did not include anything related to BruneI's 'atmospheric caper', but for all that the earliest engines were 25 years old when the GWR got them. These had been built under contract by four different makers, and were 4-4-0 saddle-tanks of Gooch design. The first five had been built by Longridge & Co. in 1851/2, more' or less contemporary with the next batch (4), by the Haigh Foundry in 1851/3. William Fairbairn and Sons, of Manchester, built one locomotive in 1852 and Stothert & Slaughter the final pair, in 1853. They had 5f1 6in coupled wheels and a total wheelbase of 17ft 9in. Lance was destroyed in a collision near St Germans in December 1873, but the longest-lived was actually the earliest, Comet, which was not withdrawn until 1884. Early goods traffic on the SDR was in the charge of four six-coupled saddle-tanks constructed at Vulcan Foundry in 1854/5. The first of these, Tornado, blew up at Totnes in 1860, killing the driver, but, repaired, lasted until 1884. Goliah was the longest-lived, surviving a year longer than Tornado.

The second SDR contract provided for 24 new engines - sixteen were to be passenger locomotives and eight were for goods traffic. All were built by Slaughter, Gruning & Co., Bristol between 1859 and 1865. The passenger engines looked similar to the earlier 4-4-0 types, except that they now had larger tanks. The goods locomotives were 0-6-0 saddle-tanks, with tanks of the same capacity (1, 100 gallons) as those of the passenger engines. The wheels of the first two delivered were 4ft 6in in diameter, but on the rest were three inches larger, These 40 locomotives were bought from the contractor in 1866, and the South Devon's first locomotive order in, as it were, its own right, was for eight engines (six passenger, two goods) from the Avonside Engine Co.

The passenger engines had inside plate frames, were 4-4-0 saddle-tanks, and had coupled wheels of 5ft 8in diameter. Sedley, the third of these, worked the first broad gauge train between Truro and Penzance. The goods tanks, 0-6-0s, had 4ft 9in wheels and a 15ft 4in wheelbase.

Four new engines - as opposed to various secondhand offerings which the Company acquired between 1868 and 1872 - were supplied between January 1868 and June 1871. All were different, the oldest being a vertical-boilered 0-4-0 well-tank built by Sara & Co. of Plymouth, and bought to work the previously horsedrawn Sutton Harbour branch at Plymouth. It was named Tiny, and, after withdrawal in 1883, became a stationary engine in the Newton Abbot workshops. In 1927 it was overhauled and placed on a podium at Newton Abbot station. It now resides in the Dart Valley Railway Museum at Buckfastleigh, the only original broad gauge locomotive survivor in this country.

Taurus was a 0-6-0 saddle-tank by Avonside. It was delivered in 1869, had 3ft wheels, and was used on the Sutton harbour, Brixham and Ashburton branches until 1892. Conversion to standard gauge followed in 1894 and it served for a further eleven years. King also came from Avonside, in 1871, but was a 2-4-0 side-tank. It was ordered by the Torbay & Brixham Raihyay,' which was unable to pay for it - the GWR 'converted it to 'narrow' gauge in 1878. Prince was. similar in appearance to Taurus, and was used on similar work, but had been built by the Ince Forge Co. in 1871. It was a 2-4-0, with 4ft driving wheels and a saddle-tank holding 500 gallons.

In May 1893 it was converted to standard gauge, and although withdrawn from traffic six years later, remained in use as a stationary engine. Swindon finally cut it up in 1935.

The second-hand locomotives added to the SDR stock had mostly been built during the early 1860s, but two, Stromboli and Penwith, dated from 1851 and 1852 respectively. The latter engine along with Redruth had been built as 'narrow' gauge engines, and were converted to broad gauge, Redruth in 1871 and Pen with in 1872.

The earliest to go survived until December 1884, but several of the group lasted until the end of broad gauge working.

During the final years 22 engines were built for the SDR, all by Avonside and all designed to be converted easily to stanqard gauge. Four were 4-4-0 passenger locomotives with 5ft 9in coupled wheels, narrow fireboxes and inside frames. In the event all were withdrawn in 1892/3 (two of them in May 1892) so their convertible properties were not utilised. The goods engines, of which there were ten, had six-coupled, 4ft 9in wheels. These, with one exception which was sold out of service in 1889, were converted, one in April 1892 and the rest during the following year.

There were eight four-coupled shunting engines. Three were well-tanks, with 3ft wheels and a 7ft wheelbase, the third, Weasel, ceasing to work in 1877 and becoming, from December 1882, a portable engine for the Engineering Department. Both the others were converted in August 1893. The last five were sadqle-tanks, with a slightly longer wheelbase at 7ft 6in, but the same sized wheels. Soon after the amalgamation Raven, the first of this group, was sold to the Torbay & Brixham Railway, but came back to the GWR in 1883. All were converted during 1892, and all were subsequently sold out of servIce.

Three locomotives were building at Newton Abbot when the SDR/GWR amalgamation happened although planned as broad gauge engines, the work was thereupon transferred to Swindon, which completed them to 'narrow' gauge.

The South Devon Railway, then, h~d a complement consisting entirely of tank engines, but they showed respectable workloads, the passenger engines averaging round 638,000 miles each and the goods engines about 460,000.

Mention has already been made of the little Torbay & Brixham's problems with the SDR, and in 1870 its one engine was mortgaged to that Company. In January 1877 the GWR sold a 2-4-0 well-tank, Raven, to the T &BR, which, with its own engine, Queen, sufficed to work the 2-mile branch. Built by E. B. Wilson in 1852/3 and bought by the T&BR in 1868, Queen was a welltank with 4ft diameter driving wheels and a total wheelbase of 8 feet. When the GWR bought the Brixham concern on 1st January 1883 the engine was taken into stock and condemned on the same day, but was not, apparently, cut up for some time. Raven was one of the batch of six 0-4-0 shunters built for the SDR in 1873/5 - it was delivered in November 1874, a 0-4-0 saddle-tank with 3ft wheels. There appears to have been a plan to add a pair of trailing wheels at one stage, but this was not done. The engine was converted to 'narrow' gauge in August 1892, and ended its days on the Wantage Tramway, being cut up after a collision in 1919.

In 1866 the Vale of Neath Railway was added to the GWR strength and contributed 19 broad "gauge locomotives to the system. Nos 1-9 in the register had been built by Robert Stephenson & Co. and were 4-4-0 saddle-tanks, the first six having been supplied in 1851 and the latter three, which were more powerful engines, in 1854. The earlier batch were designed by Gooch, a development of his 'Corsair' class, with 5ft 6in driving wheels. The other three had drivers six inches smaller, but they proved to be heavy on maintenance and were converted to 0-6-0 saddle-tanks in about 1858, No.8 surviving in this form until 1880. The first six were all either sold out of service or cut up in 1872, when the gauge in South Wales was altered.

Vulcan Foundry provided the next six locomotives, all 0-6-0 tank engines. Nos 10-12 came in 1854, having 4ft 9in wheels and a wheelbase of 15ft 7in. The remainder were built in 1856/7, and had full-length saddle-tanks and a wheelbase shorter by four inches. These later engines were to prove too heavy and were converted to tender engines in 1860/1. No. 12, the last of the earlier batch, lasted until 1884.

The four remaining engines (Nos 16-19) were built by Slaughter, Gruning & Co. in 1861, 0-6-0 saddle-tanks with 4ft 6in wheels and a 15ft 7in wheelbase. No. 16 survived a 50ft fall into Swansea North Dock in 1865 and becaIne the longest lived of the Neath engil)es. Its latter days were spent banking in South Devon, where it survived until withdrawal in 1886.

Two 4-4-0 saddle-tanks hired by the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway also went to the South Devon.

Named Etna and Hecla, these were built by Rothwell & Co. in 1864, with 5ft 3in driving wheels, and were similar in appearance to the type of SDR saddle-tank engines which boasted shorter tanks. Both were eventually modified, and survived in GWR service until the end of the broad gauge. In 1861 two further engines, Heron and Magpie were supplied by Sharp, Stewart on hire to the C&CR - these 4-4-0 side-tanks had wheels of 5ft 2in diameter. These continued under hire to the Official Receiyer, but when the line's gauge was changed they were sold to the SDR, which converted them to saddle-tanks. They passed eventually into GWR hands, but their subsequent history is uncertain.

Rosa was built for the Llynfi Valley Railway by Slaughter, Gruning & Co. Another 4-4-0 saddle-tank, with 5ft 6in driving wheels, this locomotive, with two 0-6-0s, Ada and Una, was exchanged for four standard gauge engines from the West Cornwall Railway in 1868.

It was converted into a six-coupled engine in 1874, and the trio eventually reached the GWR, lasting until 1884/6 before withdrawal.

The South Wales Mineral Railway was worked for eleven years by the Glencorrwg Coal Company with five engines. The two earliest were withdrawn about 1872 and this is about all that is known of them. The other three were all saddle-tanks by Manning, Wardle & Co., the earliest a 0-4-0 built in 1863, and the two others, 0-4-2s numbered 116 and 136, were built in 1864 and 1866 respectively. No.1 16 was sold out of service in 1872, coming eventually to the GWR via the B&ER. No. 136 was withdrawn in 1869 and went to work on the New Quay & Cornwall Junction Railway.

This line was worked by contractors, William West & Sons of St Blazey Foundry, until it was taken over by the Cornwall Minerals Railway, which then bought the engines from West's and worked the line itself until 30th September 1877. The GWR then took over but refused to have anything to do with the locomotives, which languished in a siding until sold off in 1879.

The Severn & Wye Railway owned five broad gauge locomotives, although it was only for four years 1868-72 - that the line was worked to that gauge. Two small 4-wheelers came from Fletcher, Jennings & Co., of Whitehaven, as did a larger 0-6-0. This had no less than three gauges: 3ft 8in from 1865 to 1868, broad gauge until 1872 and back to standard thereafter. There were two more 0-6-0s on the strength, both built as convertibles, one by Fletcher, Jennings and the other by the Avonside Engine Co. Both were transferred to the Midland Railway in 1895.

From 1876 all the engines turned out at Swindon were 'convertibles', that is locomotives which, by the comparatively simple expedient of shortening the axles and regauging the wheels, could be made available for 'narrow' (standard) gauge work in the minimum of time. Armstrong's 'standard: class, built in 1876/8 as 0-6-0 saddle-tanks, had 4ft 6in driving wheels over a wheelbase of 15ft 8in. Between 1884/8 35 locomotives of this type were changed to broad gauge after several years' service as 'narrow' gauge engines. All were later re-converted. During the same period a batch of standard goods engines was also altered: these double-framed 0-6-0 locomotives likewise reverting to 'narrow' gauge in due course.

Between 1885 and 1891 a further 41 convertibles, all passenger engines, were built new in three batches. The first ten engines~ppeared in 1885, all 2-4-0 side-tanks with double frames and 5ft lin driving wheels. Five were converted to tender engines in 1890/1, and on eventual conversion to 'narrow' gauge the rest were similarly treated.

The second batch, consisting of 20 engines, was to a design by Dean for work in the West Country: the engines were built in 1888/9 and were the last examples of broad gauge passenger tanks. A modified form of the 3521 type of 0-4-2 side-tank, the first 19 were built as saddle-tanks but were so unsteady that the final engine of the class appeared as a 0-4-4 side- tank. All the others were rebuilt in this form in 1890/1, two being converted to 'narrow' gauge at the same time. The rest were converted in 1892. They remained unsteady however, and between 1899 and 1902 were rebuilt yet again, this time as 4-4-0 tender engines.

The last eleven engines were 2-4-0s (Lots 1 and 2) and 2-2-2s designed by Dean, built at Swindon and intended for express working between London, Bristol and Newton Abbot. They were built in three Lots: in 1886 (1), 1888 (2) and 1891 (8), but only Lot 3 survived to be converted in 1892. This was, in essence, a convertible version of the 'Iron Duke' class, whose ranks they joined in due course. They had 7ft 8+in driving wheels and a wheelbase of 18ft 6in, with a raised firebox and the dome placed on the rear boiler ring, not forward as hitherto.

Very early GWR locomotive liveries remain shrouded in uncertainty, although we can be fairly sure that green was being used for boilers by 1848. Chocolate brown frames are first mentioned in a maker's specification of 1842, with boiler brackets, smoke box and chimney in black. Brass was in evidence too, on firebox, safety valve cover, whistle and spring balance. Boiler bands appear to have been generally black, at least until Gooch resigned. The copper-cap chimney became standard from Armstrong's period of office, and in 1881 the green of the livery became lighter in shade, with lining in black and orange. Outside frames, splashers and sandboxes were now a dark Indian red, the edges picked out in black and orange.

B&ER locomotive livery was green, although the precise shade is uncertain,". . . picked out in black." Pearson changed the livery to black in the 1860s, probably for reasons of economy. The South Devon specified that its engines should have green boilers and wheels, with brown frames: lining was black picked out with red. The green shade later became darker.


Bury, as built by Slaughter, Gruning & Co. in 1865: the engine was converted to a saddle-tank in 1877. Note the white diamonds painted on the bufferbeam to denote an engine in branch line use - this was sometimes indicated by a movable board fixed above the bufferbeam. p. 99

Dean's Great Western, built in May 1888 as one of the replacement 'Iron Duke' or 'Rover' class engines, at West Drayton. All except one (Bulkeley) perpetuated names already used, and all but one (Hirondelle) survived until the end of the broad gauge. p.100

Lord of the Isles. A posed photograph of 1856, while the engine was decorated in celebration of the end of the Crimean War. . p.101

Liffey, first of Lot 7 of Gooch standard goods 0-6-0, built Swindon 1857. p.102

Iron Duke class renewal: Corsair entering Paddington c1890. p. 103.

Ex-B&ER 4-2-4 tank-engine No. 40, originally built at Bristol in 1873 but rebuilt as a 4-2-2 tender-engine four years later. It is seen here at Temple Meads station, with the (then) .new station building behind. The engine was withdrawn in December 1890. p.105

Corsair, the SDR engine built at Swindon in 1849 - note the sandbox inconveniently atop the saddle-tank. Withdrawn in June 1873, the locomotive was sold to Cilely Colliery in March 1876.p. 106

No. 12 Redruth, as delivered new to the West Cornwall Railway in January 1864. After conversion to broad gauge, this locomotive finally ceased service, as a saddle-tank, in June 1887. p.107

The ex-WCR locomotive Redruth, after rebuilding by the GWR as a 0-6-0 saddle-tank. p.108

Telford cl865, built at Swindon, May 1864. Brunel, a sister engine, worked the last broad gauge train in South Wales, 11th May 1862. p. 109

One broad gauge engine that we can still see - Tiny - though not at this location. It is actually not identified, but a glimpse of water in the background suggests that the picture was taken while the engine was at its original workplace, Sutton Harbour, Plymouth. p. 110

Hurricane and Thunderer

Constructed to T.E. Harrison's designs by Hawthorne: Hurricane had 10 ft driving wheels; latter 6 ft. Both had boiler and drive on separate units plus a tender in each case.

Standard guage

Sekon notes Gooch 2-2-2 built by Beyer Paecock: 6ft 6in driving wheels. Cyls: 15½ x 22. compensating levers. Sekon)