GWR 111 The Great Bear
|The Great Bear|
Official picture of the GWR 4-6-2 No.111 The Great Bear in 1908.
|Builder||Great Western Railway, Swindon Works|
|Order number||Lot 171|
|Build date||February 1908|
|Rebuild date||7 January 1924|
|Gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|3 ft 2 in (0.97 m)|
|Driver diameter||6 ft 8.5 in (2.045 m)|
|3 ft 8 in (1.12 m)|
|Wheelbase||34 ft 6 in (10.516 m)|
|Length||71 ft 2.025 in (21.692 m)|
|Axle load||20 long tons (20 t)|
|Weight on drivers||60 long tons (61 t)|
|Locomotive weight||97 long tons (99 t)|
|Tender weight||45.75 long tons (46.48 t)|
|Locomotive and tender
|142.75 long tons (145.04 t)|
|Water capacity||3,500 US gal (13,000 l; 2,900 imp gal)|
|Boiler pressure||225 psi (1.551 MPa)|
|Firegrate area||41.79 sq ft (3.882 m2)|
– Tubes and flues
|2,697.67 sq ft (250.622 m2)|
|– Firebox||158.154 sq ft (14.6930 m2)|
|– Total||3,400.81 sq ft (315.946 m2)|
|Superheater type||Swindon No. 1, Field-tube, 3-row|
|Superheater area||545 sq ft (50.6 m2)|
|Cylinder size||15 in × 26 in (380 mm × 660 mm)|
|Tractive effort||27,800 lbf (124 kN) (at 85% boiler pressure)|
|Railroad(s)||Great Western Railway|
|Number in class||1|
|Official name||The Great Bear, renamed Viscount Churchill in 1924|
|Axle load class||Red|
|Locale||Paddington - Bristol|
|First run||4 February 1908|
|Disposition||Rebuilt to GWR 4073 Class|
The Great Bear, number 111, was a locomotive of the Great Western Railway. It was the first 4-6-2 (Pacific) locomotive used on a railway in Great Britain, and the only one of that type ever built by the GWR.
History and operation
The Great Bear was built in 1908 to satisfy demands from the directors for the largest locomotive in Britain, and much was made of the locomotive by the GWR's publicity department. She was considered the company's flagship locomotive until the building of 4073 Caerphilly Castle in 1923.
In service The Great Bear was not a significant improvement on existing classes, and had a highly restrictive route availability; its 20t 9cwt axle load limiting it to the Paddington to Bristol main line, although it was once recorded to have travelled as far west as Newton Abbot. Its regular engine driver was Thomas Blackall, originally from Aston Tirrold, Oxfordshire.
The GWR did not pursue the Pacific wheel arrangement, and subsequently stayed with the 4-6-0 arrangement which later became synonymous with the company. Churchward's successor Charles Collett is reputed not to have liked the loco, and is alleged to have prepared the report presented to the GWR's locomotive committee recommending its rebuilding. No.111 was rebuilt in 1924, as a 4-6-0 in the Castle Class, and given the name Viscount Churchill although it retained its number. No. 111 was withdrawn in July 1953.
Churchward was disappointed to hear of The Great Bear's destruction, and upon hearing of Nigel Gresley's plans to construct a pacific for the Great Northern Railway, is said to have replied: "What did that young man want to build it for? We could have sold him ours!"
The GWR route availability colour code of The Great Bear was Red, and although the tractive effort of 27,800 lbf (124,000 N) fell within the range for power classification "D", its GWR power classification was "Special" (denoted by a black + on the red route availability disc).
- Foster, Richard (Nov 2007). "The man and his machines: The Great Bear". Steam Railway (Peterborough: EMAP Ltd) (342): p69.
- le Fleming, H.M. (November 1960) . White, D.E., ed. Part 8: Modern Passenger Classes. The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway (2nd ed.). Kenilworth: RCTS. p. H13. ISBN 0-901115-19-3.
- Haresnape, Brian; Alec Swain (1976). Churchward Locomotives. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-0697-0.
- Daniel, John (2013-07-07). "Great Western "Pacific" steam locomotive, "The Great Bear"". The Great Western Archive. Retrieved 2014-01-06.