GWR 2800 Class

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GWR 2800 Class
GWR 28xx Consolidation 2803 (Howden, Boys' Book of Locomotives, 1907).jpg
GWR 2803 in photographic grey livery.
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Designer George Jackson Churchward
Builder GWR Swindon Works
Build date 1903, 1905–1919
Total produced 84
Configuration 2-8-0
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
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 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 12 ft 11 14 in (3.94 m)
Axle load 17 long tons 5 cwt (38,600 lb or 17.5 t) full
Weight on drivers 67 long tons 10 cwt (151,200 lb or 68.6 t) full
Locomotive weight 75 long tons 10 cwt (169,100 lb or 76.7 t) full
Fuel type Coal
Water capacity 3,500 imp gal (16,000 l; 4,200 US gal)
Boiler pressure 225 lbf/in2 (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-element 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)
Performance figures
Tractive effort 35,380 lbf (157.4 kN)
Operator(s) GWR » BR
Power class GWR: E
BR: 8F
Number(s) 2800–2883
Axle load class GWR: Blue
Withdrawn 1958–1965
Disposition Seven preserved, remainder scrapped

The Great Western Railway (GWR) 2800 Class is a class of steam locomotive.


The class was designed by G.J. Churchward for heavy freight work. They were the first 2-8-0 class in Great Britain.

The prototype, originally numbered 97 but later renumbered 2800, appeared in 1903. Construction of the production series commenced in 1905 and continued until 1919. The 2884 Class which appeared in 1938–1942 was developed from the 2800 class and is sometimes classified with it.


No.97 undertook two years of trials before going into production. Initial results suggested that only the front end needed further development. Initially the boiler pressure of the 2-8-0 was set at 200 lbf/in2 (1.4 MPa) with 18-inch (457 mm) diameter cylinders. Tractive effort started out at 29,775 lbf (132.45 kN) but was increased substantially in the production engines by enlarging the cylinder diameter to 18 12 in (470 mm) and raising the steam pressure to 225 lbf/in2 (1.55 MPa). The 8 12 in (216 mm) piston valves were enlarged to 10 in (254 mm).


The most visible difference between No.97 and the first of the 1905 production batch was the higher pitch of the boiler (8 ft 2 in or 2.49 m opposed to 7 ft 8 12 in or 2.35 m). At first the prototype was given a 4,000-imperial-gallon (18,000 l; 4,800 US gal) tender but almost without exception the 2800s were harnessed to the 3,500-imperial-gallon (16,000 l; 4,200 US gal) variety throughout their working lives. Superheating was incorporated into the class from 1909 with No.2808 the first to be retro-fitted. Other modifications centred on improving the weight distribution, altering smokebox lengths and fitting larger diameter chimneys. The 84 2800s built by Churchward remained the GWR's principal long haul freight engines throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The only serious problem met with in traffic was with the sealing of the internal steam pipes. Beginning in 1934 most of the class had them replaced with the outside kind.

Oil firing[edit]

Between 1945 and 1947, coal shortages caused GWR to experiment with oil fired 2800 locomotives and 12 of the 2800 class were converted. They were renumbered into the 4800 series, which necessitated re-numbering the entire 4800 class autotanks into the 1400 series, and reclassified as 1400 class. 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.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 15 January 1936, locomotive No. 2802 was hauling a freight train that became divided at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire. An express passenger train collided with the rear portion of the freight due to errors by the guard and signalman. Two people were killed.[1]


Six 2800 class locomotives survive, these being 2807, 2818, 2857, 2859, 2873, 2874, along with nine 2884 class locomotives. A seventh survivor was used to provide parts for other projects.

Number Year Built Withdrawn Location Status Notes
2807 Oct 1905 Mar 1963 Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Operational Salvaged from Woodham Bros in 1981 she was restored to running order at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway and this year in 2015 is now 110 years old making her the oldest of the class in preservation.
2818 Dec 1905 Oct 1963 National Railway Museum, Shildon Static Display Preserved straight from service and now part of the national collection but not in running condition. Retains inside steam pipes.
2857 May 1918 Apr 1963 Severn Valley Railway Operational 2857 Is the only member of the preserved 2800's to run on the mainline in preservation as 1985 marked the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway. On the 9 September of that year she hauled a vintage goods train from the Severn Valley Railway to Newport for a Railfreight spectacular, heading out via Hereford and returning via Severn Tunnel Junction & Gloucester
2859 May 1918 Dec 1964 Llangollen Railway Stored Currently awaiting restoration to working order from Barry scrapyard condition.
2873 Nov 1918 Dec 1964 South Devon Railway Dismantled Currently stored (frames only) at Buckfastleigh.
2874 Nov 1918 May 1963 Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Stored Currently in Barry Scrapyard condition but restoration is planned to start in the near future.

2861, built in 1918, was one of the "Barry Ten" and eventually broken up for parts at the Llangollen Railway in 2014 and the frames scrapped. The cylinder and saddle block, along with several other components, are being used in the construction of replica GWR 4700 Class 2-8-0 No. 4709.[2]


Hornby Railways manufacture a model of the 28xx in OO gauge.


  • Classic British Steam locomotives
  • Whitehurst, Brian (1973). Great Western engines, names, numbers, types, classes: 1940 to preservation. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Company. pp. 27–28, 103, 130. ISBN 0-902888-21-8. OCLC 815661. 

External links[edit]