GWR 6800 Class 6880 Betton Grange

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GWR 6800 Class 6880 Betton Grange
Cab for Betton Grange
Power type Steam
Designer C.B. Collett (original designer)
Builder 6800 Society
Build date 1994–present
Configuration 4-6-0
UIC classification 2'C h
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Leading wheel
3 ft 0 in (0.914 m)
Driver diameter 5 ft 8 in (1.727 m)
Minimum curve 8 chains (530 ft; 160 m) normal,
7 chains (460 ft; 140 m) slow
Length 63 ft 0 14 in (19.21 m)
Width 8 ft 11 14 in (2.72 m)
Height 13 ft 0 in (3.96 m)
Axle load 18 tons 8 cwt (41,200 lb or 18.7 t)
Weight on drivers 55 tons 2 cwt (123,400 lb or 56 t)
Locomotive weight 74 tons 0 cwt (165,800 lb or 75.2 t) full
Tender weight 40 tons 0 cwt (89,600 lb or 40.6 t) full
Fuel type Coal
Fuel capacity 7 tons 0 cwt (15,700 lb or 7.1 t)
Water capacity 3,500 imp gal (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 and flues
1,686.60 sq ft (156.690 m2)
– Firebox 154.78 sq ft (14.380 m2)
– Total 2,461.4 sq ft (228.67 m2)
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)
Tractive effort 28,875 lbf (128.44 kN)
Power class GWR: D; BR: 5MT
Number(s) 6880
Official name Betton Grange
Axle load class GWR: Red
Disposition Under construction, Llangollen Railway

No.6880 Betton Grange is a steam locomotive which is under construction as a "new-build" project, based on the Llangollen Railway in Denbighshire, Wales. Described as "building the 81st Grange", the project started in 1998, and the locomotive was expected to be operational by 2013. All of the original GWR 6800 Class Grange locomotives were withdrawn for scrap by the end of 1965;[1] this project is a creation, from an assemblage of original GWR and newly manufactured components, of a member of this class.


Main article: GWR 6800 Class

The GWR locomotive standardisation policy pursued by G.J. Churchward envisaged a range of locomotive classes which would be suitable for the majority of duties, and yet which would share a small number of standard components.[2] Amongst the designs suggested in 1901 was a 4-6-0 with 5-foot-8-inch (1.73 m) diameter coupled wheels, and the Standard No. 1 boiler.[3] Although planned in 1901, none were built until 1936, by which time C.B. Collett was in charge at Swindon. He took the Churchward proposal, and modified the design of the cab and controls to the then current style.[4]

The 4300 Class of 2-6-0 tender locomotives had been introduced in 1911, and by 1932 there were 342 in service.[5] With train loads and hence weights rising, these smaller, older and less powerful locomotives were scheduled to be replaced by new 4-6-0 locomotives by the 1930s.

The Granges were effectively a smaller-wheeled version of the GWR Hall Class.[6] The GWR also built a lighter version of the Granges, the GWR 7800 Class, known as the Manor Class, which had smaller boilers.[7] Between 1936 and 1939, 100 of the 4300 Class were taken out of service, and stripped of their parts at Swindon Works. The initial plan was to rebuilt 80 as the 6800 Grange class, whilst the remaining 20 were of the 7800 Manor class.[8] It had eventually been intended to replace all of the 4300 Class in this way in three batches, with the next Grange due to be built No. 6880 Betton Grange, to be named after the manor house in the Shropshire hamlet of Betton Strange. But the onset of Second World War stopped the programme.[6][8]

The wheels, valve motion and tenders of the Grange were taken from the withdrawn engines, reconditioned and then used in the construction of the 100 new locomotives;[4][6][7] with the components from one old locomotive spread amongst more than one of the new engines.[9] The cylinders of both the Granges and Manors were of the same size as those used on the 4300 Class, but the old cylinders could not be re-used because the cylinders and valves shared a common casting, and the new design called for the separation between cylinder and valve centre lines to be increased by 2 12 inches (64 mm). This was done in order to make the cylinders level with the axles, but still allow the use of the old valve motion parts.[10][11]

The 6800 class had driving wheels of 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m) diameter, four inches smaller than those of the Hall class. However, as their cylinders were of the same size and the two classes shared the Swindon No. 1 boiler, the Grange had a tractive effort 1,600 lb greater than the Hall.[12] Hence, with their power and mixed traffic characteristics, the Grange locomotives could handle most duties on the network.[4] The British Railways power classification of the Grange class was 5MT, its GWR power class was D and its route availability colour code was red.[13] In service they were reliable performers.[4][14]

The last of the Grange class was withdrawn in 1965, and none were preserved.[1]


Inspired by the success of the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust in building the LNER Peppercorn Class A1 60163 Tornado the Llangollen Railway Society explored the possibility of recreating a new build Grange from existing parts of various locomotives, utilising the "kit of standard bits" construction approach adopted by the GWR.

After the Beeching Axe, British Railways had sold many of its steam locomotives to a number of privately owned scrap yards, the most famous of which was Woodham Brothers in Barry Island, South Wales.[15][16] Whilst many of the early locomotives that were recovered from Barry were complete, later examples lacked non-ferrous fittings, pipework and valve gear, and were at worst simply frames, wheels, and a rusty boiler. Purchasers faced the dilemma of restoring their locomotive using newly fabricated parts, or dismantling it and using the parts to restore other, more complete, examples.[15][16][17]

The Grange project represents a third approach, by using parts from scrap locomotives in a new-build project.

GWR 6880 Betton Grange Project[edit]

The 6880 Society (registered charity, no: 1100537) was formed in 1998, with the sole purpose of constructing an operational Grange Class steam locomotive.[18] As the GWR rebuild programme stopped at the end of the first batch of 80 locomotives, assigning a putative name and number to the proposed locomotive was a relatively easy procedure. From GWR records, No. 6880 Betton Grange was the next locomotive scheduled to come off the assembly line at Swindon Works, hence the projected locomotive became known as "the 81st Grange."[12]

The core of the society was formed by the group who had recovered from Barry the GWR 5101 Class Large Prairie No. 5199 and restored it to operation at Llangollen.[19]

Both the main frames and the cab for No. 6880 were newly fabricated, with cutting commencing in September 2004.[20] The cab was completed in time for the Crewe Works gathering in 2005.

In 2005 the society acquired the boiler from GWR 6959 "Modified Hall" Class No. 7927 Willington Hall. The frames and wheelset from the Hall have been retained by Didcot Railway Centre to build a GWR 1000 County Class, another class of GWR locomotive which was not preserved. The society also acquired the spare tender frame from GWR 4900 Class 4936 Kinlet Hall.

In 2010 the society bought GWR 4900 Hall Class No. 5952 Cogan Hall from the Cambrian Railways Trust. The long term aim is to fully restore this locomotive to operational condition, but in the short term the society have borrowed its bogie and tender for the Grange project, to speed the project to a successful conclusion.

Kit of bits[edit]

  • Frames: cut from new metal.
  • Boiler: obtained from GWR 6959 "Modified Hall" Class No. 7927 Willington Hall.
  • Driving Wheels: The spare wheelsets for GWR 4300 Collett "Mogul" Class No. 7325, on long term loan agreement from the Severn Valley Railway Society. Now replaced with the wheels from 5199 due to casting flaws with the spare 7325 wheelsets.
  • Front bogie: Borrowed from GWR 4900 Class 5952 Cogan Hall. Being restored at Williton works on the West Somerset Railway
  • Cylinders: casting and machining of a new pair of cylinders, estimated cost of £60,000
  • Tender: Borrowed from GWR 4900 Class 5952 Cogan Hall, with later option to rebuild spare frame obtain from No. 4936 Kinlet Hall
  • Cab: cut from new metal.

Fund raising[edit]

The 6880 Society organised three successful "Steel Steam & Stars" gala events in 2007, 2009 and 2012, held on the Llangollen Railway, which raised their profile, and funds for the build. The next SSS gala is scheduled to take place in April 2014.[21]

Project milestones[edit]

  • 1998: Project started
  • 2004: Frames cut
  • 2005: Fabrication of new cab completed
  • 2007: "Steel Steam & Stars I" gala
  • 2009: "Steel Steam & Stars II" gala
  • 5 March 2012: Footplating secured to frames and painted
  • April 2012: "Steel Steam & Stars III" gala
  • 8 April 2013: The locomotive's frame is fitted with its driving wheels.


  1. ^ a b Haresnape 1978, p. 85
  2. ^ le Fleming 1962, pp. J3–4
  3. ^ le Fleming 1962, p. J9
  4. ^ a b c d Chacksfield 2002, p. 139
  5. ^ le Fleming 1962, p. J12
  6. ^ a b c le Fleming 1960, p. H34
  7. ^ a b le Fleming 1960, p. H36
  8. ^ a b le Fleming 1962, p. J14
  9. ^ Bradley 1988, pp. 55–6
  10. ^ Bradley 1988, p. 56
  11. ^ Gibson 1984, pp. 144–5
  12. ^ a b Ian Crowder. "The Grange class - the missing link". Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  13. ^ le Fleming 1960, p. H35
  14. ^ Gibson 1984, p. 144
  15. ^ a b "The Barry Scrapyard story, part 1". The Great Western Archive - part1. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  16. ^ a b "The Barry Scrapyard story, part 2". The Great Western Archive - part1. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  17. ^ "The Barry Scrapyard story, part 3". The Great Western Archive - part1. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  18. ^ 6880, retrieved 2008-08-27 
  19. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  20. ^ "We are proud to announce that we have now begun work on 6880". 6800 Society. September 18, 2004. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  21. ^ "Steel Steam & Stars". Betton Grange Society. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  • Bradley, Rodger (1988). GWR Two Cylinder 4-6-0s and 2-6-0s. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-8894-0. 
  • Chacksfield, J.E. (2002). C.B. Collett: A Competent Successor. The Oakwood Library of Railway History. Usk: Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-586-1. OL121. 
  • Gibson, John C. (1984). Great Western Locomotive Design: A Critical Appreciation. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-8606-9. 
  • Haresnape, Brian (1978). Collett & Hawksworth Locomotives: A Pictorial History. Shepperton: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0869-8. 
  • le Fleming, H.M. (November 1960) [1953]. White, D.E., ed. Part 8: Modern Passenger Classes. The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway (2nd ed.). Kenilworth: RCTS. ISBN 0-901115-19-3. 
  • le Fleming, H.M. (February 1962). White, D.E., ed. Part 9: Standard Two-Cylinder Classes. The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway. RCTS. 

External links[edit]