GWR 2884 Class

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GWR 2884 Class
Didcot 3822 side view.jpg
3822 at Didcot
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Designer Charles Collett
Builder GWR Swindon Works
Build date 1938–1942
Total produced 83
Configuration 2-8-0
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Leading wheel
3 ft 2 in (0.965 m)
Driver diameter 4 ft 7 12 in (1.410 m)
Minimum curve 7 chains (460 ft; 140 m) normal,
6 chains (400 ft; 120 m) slow
Length 63 ft 2 14 in (19.26 m)
Width 8 ft 11 in (2.72 m)
Height 13 ft 0 in (3.96 m)
Axle load 17 long tons 0 cwt (38,100 lb or 17.3 t) full
Weight on drivers 67 long tons 0 cwt (150,100 lb or 68.1 t) full
Locomotive weight 76 long tons 5 cwt (170,800 lb or 77.5 t) full
Tender weight 40 long tons 0 cwt (89,600 lb or 40.6 t) full
Fuel type Coal
Water capacity 3,500 imperial gallons (16,000 l; 4,200 US gal)
Boiler pressure 225 psi (1.55 MPa)
Firegrate area 27.07 sq ft (2.515 m2)
Heating surface:
– Tubes
1,686.60 sq ft (156.690 m2)
– Firebox 154.78 sq ft (14.380 m2)
Superheater type 4 or 6 element
Superheater area 4-element: 191.8 sq ft (17.82 m2),
6-element: 253.38 sq ft (23.540 m2)
Cylinders Two, outside
Cylinder size 18.5 in × 30 in (470 mm × 762 mm)
Valve gear Stephenson
Valve type Piston valves
Performance figures
Tractive effort 35,380 lbf (157.4 kN)
Operator(s) GWR » BR
Class 2884
Power class GWR: E
BR: 8F
Axle load class GWR: Blue
Withdrawn 1962–1965
Disposition Nine preserved, remainder scrapped

The Great Western Railway (GWR) 2884 Class is a class of 2-8-0 steam locomotive.


They were designed for heavy freight work and were a development of the earlier 2800 Class. The 2884s differed from the original engines in a number of respects, the most obvious being that a more modern Collett side window cab was provided and that they were built with outside steam pipes.


83 2884 class were built between 1938 and 1941. Those built during the war did not have the side window to the cab, and the side window on the others was plated over. This was to reduce glare as a precaution against air attack. [1] The windows were reinstated after the war.

They were so popular with the ex-Great Western crews that the British Railways Western Region operating authorities wanted more of the class built after nationalisation in 1948; however, this request was turned down in favour of BR Standard Class 9Fs.

Oil firing[edit]

Between 1945 and 1947, coal shortages caused GWR to experiment with oil fired 2800 locomotives. Eight of the 2884 class were converted and renumbered from 4850. The experiment, encouraged by the government was abandoned in 1948 once the extra maintenance costs were calculated and the bill had arrived for the imported oil.

1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials[edit]

The year 1948 also saw one of the 2884 class, No.3803 (now preserved), emerge remarkably successfully from the 1948 Locomotive Exchange Trials against more modern engines including the LMS 8F and the WD Austerity 2-8-0 and WD Austerity 2-10-0. It took the appearance in 1954 of the British Railways BR standard class 9F 2-10-0 to displace the 2800s from their main role of mineral haulage. Nevertheless there was still work for them right up to the end of steam on the Western region in 1965. Six decades of service testify to the fundamental excellence of Churchward's original conception.

No. 3863 on a down freight west of Patchway 12 August 1963


Nine 2884s were saved from Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales:


Built in 1938 and currently owned by the GWR Preservation Group based at Southall Railway Centre. The locomotive has been cosmetically restored and after being on static display at Birmingham Moor Street railway station for about eight years, it was offered for sale in August 2011.[2] It was lifted out of the station on 2 June 2013.[3]


Built in 1938, 3802 has been restored to operational condition and is currently operating on the Llangollen Railway.[4]


3803 was completed in Jan 1939. It was restored to operating condition by the South Devon Railway and is operating on the Battlefield Line Railway.[5] It has recently been offered for sale.


Built in 1940, 3814 has not yet run in preservation and is stored, partially restored, on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. [6]


Also built in 1940 3822 has been restored and has run in preservation. It is currently on static display at the Didcot Railway Centre.[1] In 1989, it was used in the Music video of song Breakthru by the band Queen.[7]


Built in 1942 and now owned by Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd. It is stored, unrestored, at a private restoration site in the West Midlands.[8]


Also built in 1942 and owned by Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd who restored it to working order on the West Somerset Railway. [8]


Built in 1942 and now located on the East Lancashire Railway. After being untouched for many years restoration is believed to have started recently. [9]


Built in 1942 and located on the Northampton & Lamport Railway. [10] It is yet to run in preservation.


Hornby Railways manufacture a model of the 2884 Class in OO gauge.


  • Whitehurst, Brian (1973). Great Western engines, names, numbers, types, classes: 1940 to preservation. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Company. pp. 28, 35, 98, 103, 140. ISBN 0-902888-21-8. OCLC 815661. 

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