GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall

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GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall
GWR 'Hall' 5972 'Olton Hall' at Doncaster Works.JPG
GWR Hall Class no. 5972 Olton Hall on display at Doncaster Works open day on 27 July 2003
Power type Steam
Designer Charles Collett
Builder GWR Swindon Works
Build date April 1937
Configuration 4-6-0
Railroad(s) Great Western Railway, British Railways
Class GWR 4900 (Hall)
Number 5972
Official name Olton Hall
Withdrawn December 1963
Current owner West Coast Railway Company
No. 5972 at the National Railway Museum, York
No. 5972 in the National Railway Museum with Hogwarts Castle name plates

The steam locomotive no. 5972 Olton Hall is a 4-6-0 Hall class locomotive.

In the 2000s the locomotive achieved fame after it was used to haul the "Hogwarts Express" in the Harry Potter films.


Built in April 1937 at Swindon railway works for the Great Western Railway, she was first allocated to Carmarthen, South Wales where she remained until 1951. After being fitted with a three row superheater at Swindon, she was allocated to Plymouth Laira TMD. Her last shed allocation was to Cardiff East Dock, before she was withdrawn in December 1963, and acquired by Woodham Brothers, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan for scrap in May 1964.[1][2]


Woodham Brothers sold the locomotive to Procor (UK) Ltd in Wakefield, and she left as the 125th departure from Barry in May 1981.[1] She is now based at the National Railway Museum in Shildon.

The locomotive operates with a set of matched coaching stock, also owned by West Coast Railways. In September 2003 vandals covered two of the carriages with graffiti which had to be removed at a cost of £3,000.[3]

Since 2004 private tour operator Beyond Boundaries Travel has commissioned the train each summer for use on its Harry Potter Fan Trips tours of the United Kingdom. On 11 March 2007 vandals again targeted the coaches, causing £75,000 worth of damage at West Coast Railway Company's depot in Carnforth. Ten youths, aged between twelve and fourteen years, were arrested in connection with the incident — in which 337 windows on several coaches were smashed.[4]

On the 12th July 2014, Olton Hall is scheduled to haul its last train between Carnforth and York, and back. Following this journey, Olton Hall will be transferred to the Warner Brothers 'Harry Potter' museum where she will spend the rest of her days as a static exhibit.[5]

Hogwarts Express[edit]

In the films the locomotive is depicted pulling a train of four British Rail Mark 1 carriages. Scenes were filmed inside King's Cross railway station, crossing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland and at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway — along with internal scenes on board the train.

When filming, Olton Hall carries a "Hogwarts Express" headboard on the smokebox, featuring the Hogwarts School crest. The same emblem is featured as part of the Hogwarts Railways' sigil on the tender and carriages. She retains her GWR number of 5972, but with alternative nameplates fitted, naming the engine Hogwarts Castle. She is painted in a crimson livery — a non-standard colour, as Great Western Railway locomotives traditionally used Brunswick Green.

Olton Hall is not the first real locomotive to be disguised for hauling the Hogwarts Express. To promote the fourth Harry Potter book Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire, Southern Railway West Country Class locomotive 34027 "Taw Valley" was temporarily repainted and renamed. It was rejected by film director Chris Columbus as looking "too modern" for the film[citation needed] but carried the name and colour for some months later.

The renaming as "...Castle" has become a railway preservation joke: "...the Hall that thinks it's a Castle". The Great Western Railway Castle Class engines were a larger type of locomotive.

A full-size replica of the locomotive is on permanent display at the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando.

Models of "5972 Olton Hall"[edit]

Somewhat ironically, the Hornby Railways model of the locomotive is actually a model of a Castle class locomotive not a Hall. Tri-ang Hornby did release a model of the Hall class in 1966; however, this model was last offered in 1983 as 4930 "Hagley Hall", a preserved locomotive on the Severn Valley Railway. While Hornby (the successor to Tri-ang Hornby) may still have the moulds, it is unlikely that this locomotive will be produced again unless demand is sufficient - this would necessitate a new tooling to bring the model in line with contemporary standards.

Other manufacturers have perpetuated this error with Marklin using a Castle in their Hogwarts Express set. While Bachmann Branchlines does produce models of the 'Hall' and 'Modified Hall' class locomotives, they have not offered one as 5972 "Hogwarts Castle (Olton Hall)" although they could well take this approach, though Bachmann USA released one in their range.

In 2012 Hornby said that in 2013 they planned to bring out a true model of 5972 Olton Hall in their locomotive line in the crimson livery. In mid-2013 the model listing was changed to "due 2014".

Other work[edit]

5972 is sometimes used for work other than her "Hogwarts" duties. In May 2009 she was moved temporarily to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, and in July 2009 she was based at Tyseley for use on some of the regular "Shakespeare Express" trains run by Vintage Trains during the Summer. 5972 returned to the G&WR during their annual Wizard's Weekend event in 2010. Late 2011 saw the locomotive on static display in Hyde Park, London still in her "Hogwarts" red livery.


  1. ^ a b "Olton Hall". Great Western Society. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  2. ^ "Our link with Harry Potter". Woodham Brothers. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  3. ^ "Hogwarts engine gets clean-up". BBC News. 2003-09-19. 
  4. ^ "Ten held over Potter train damage". BBC News. 2007-04-05. 
  5. ^ Railway touring co tour detail brochure (page 12)

External links[edit]