GWR 2800 Class

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GWR 2800 Class
2818 (now preserved) at Newport High Street
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerGeorge Jackson Churchward
BuilderGWR Swindon Works
Order numberLots 139, 153, 155, 160, 181, 186, 190, 210
Build date1903, 1905–1919
Total produced84
 • Whyte2-8-0
Gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Leading dia.3 ft 2 in (0.965 m)
Driver dia.4 ft 7+12 in (1.410 m)
Minimum curve7 chains (460 ft; 140 m) normal,
6 chains (400 ft; 120 m) slow
Length63 ft 2+14 in (19.26 m)
Width8 ft 11 in (2.718 m)
Height12 ft 11+14 in (3.943 m)
Axle load17 long tons 5 cwt (38,600 lb or 17.5 t)
(17.5 t; 19.3 short tons) full
Adhesive weight67 long tons 10 cwt (151,200 lb or 68.6 t)
(68.6 t; 75.6 short tons) full
Loco weight75 long tons 10 cwt (169,100 lb or 76.7 t)
(76.7 t; 84.6 short tons) full
Fuel typeCoal
Water cap.3,500 imp gal (16,000 L; 4,200 US gal)
 • Firegrate area
27.07 sq ft (2.515 m2)
BoilerGWR Standard No. 1
Boiler pressure225 lbf/in2 (1.55 MPa)
Heating surface:
 • Tubes
1,686.60 sq ft (156.690 m2)
 • Firebox154.78 sq ft (14.380 m2)
 • Type4-element or 6-element
 • Heating area4-element: 191.8 sq ft (17.82 m2),
6-element: 253.38 sq ft (23.540 m2)
CylindersTwo, outside
Cylinder size18+12 in × 30 in (470 mm × 762 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort35,380 lbf (157.4 kN)
OperatorsGWR » BR
Power classGWR: E
BR: 8F
Axle load classGWR: Blue
DispositionFive preserved, Two parts donor, remainder scrapped

The Great Western Railway (GWR) 2800 Class is a class of Churchward-designed 2-8-0 steam locomotive.


The class was designed by George Jackson Churchward for heavy freight work. They were the first 2-8-0 locomotive 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 was originally outshopped in lined black livery and undertook two years of trials before the type went into production. Initial results suggested that only the front end needed further development and where the boiler of No. 97 was parallel for the first four segments, the production series had the familiar taper boiler.[1] 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 were constructed over more than a decade and 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 and beginning in 1934 most of the class had them replaced with outside pipes. This change, along with a side-window cab, were the only notable changes for the later construction when a further 83 locomotives were built over a mere 3 years from 1938.[1]

Table of orders and numbers[2]
Year Quantity Lot No. Works No. Locomotive numbers Notes
1903 1 139 1991 97 Renumbered 2800 in 1912
1905 10 153 2096–2105 2801–2810
1905 10 155 2115–2124 2811–2820
1907 10 160 2158–2167 2821–2830
1911 5 181 2390–2394 2831–2835
1912 10 186 2436–2445 2836–2845
1913 10 190 2486–2495 2846–2855
1918–19 28 210 2762–2789 2856–2883


The 2800 class was particularly used for hauling heavy trains of coal from the South Wales coalfields to the large conurbations served by the GWR, and large numbers were allocated to sheds in South Wales, but the type was the main heavy freight type on the GWR and was used across the network. Due to the variety of freight flows it was found that individual locomotives could spend extended periods away from their home shed and a container was added to the left hand valence which carried details of boiler washout dates to ensure that this necessary activity was carried out in a timely manner.[1]

There was no differentiation in duties between the original 2800 class of 1905 and the modified 2884 design of the 1930s.

At the outbreak of World War II, an order was placed for 60 additional locomotives for use in France, but this was cancelled following the evacuation at Dunkirk, the 10 engines that had already been completed being included in the GWR stocklist.[1]

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 6 January 1932, locomotive No. 2808 was hauling a freight train was in collision with a milk train, being hauled by GWR 2900 Class 4-6-0 No. 2949 Stanford Court, at Didcot East Junction. The locomotive was extensively damaged. Ten wagon were destroyed and seventeen more were damaged. The milk train had overrun signals.[3]
  • On 15 January 1936, locomotive No. 2802 was hauling a freight train that became divided at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire. An express passenger train, hauled by GWR 6000 Class 4-6-0 No. 6007 King William III collided with the rear portion of the freight due to errors by the guard and signalman. Two people were killed.[4]


Table of withdrawals
Year Quantity in
service at
start of year
Locomotive numbers
1958 84 7 2800/1-2/14/20/27/38.
1959 77 35 2803-4/8/10-12/15-17/23-26/28-29/32-33/40/43/48-49/63-64/68-70/78/80.
1960 49 50 2805-6/9/13/21/30-31/35/37/44/46-47/50/77/81.
1961 34 51 2819.
1962 33 56 2834/53/55/60/83.
1963 28 74 2807/18/41-42/45/51-52/54/57-58/61/65-67/71-72/74/82
1964 10 83 2822/36/39/56/59/62/73/75/79.
1965 1 84 2876.


Five 2800 Class locomotives survive, these being 2807, 2818, 2857, 2859, 2874, along with nine 2884 class locomotives. Two more survivors were used to provide parts for other projects. Only two members of the class have so far operated in preservation, these being 2807 and 2857. As of September 2023, no member of the class is operational. 2807 is under overhaul which began in early 2020 while 2857 was withdrawn from service in January 2023.[5] One of the class, No. 2857, briefly operated on the main line in 1985.

Number Year Built Withdrawn Location Status Owner Image Notes
2807 Aug 1905 Mar 1963 Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Under Overhaul Cotswold Steam Preservation Ltd Salvaged from Woodham Brothers in 1981 it was restored to running order at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, it is the oldest survivor of its class in preservation being 117 years old as of August 2022. Undergoing a ten-yearly overhaul.
2818 Dec 1905 Oct 1963 Museum of the Great Western Railway Static Display Museum of the Great Western Railway Preserved straight from service. Previously part of the National Collection, ownership was transferred to Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon in 2017 and the locomotive moved there in 2018.[6][7] Retains inside steam pipes and straight frames.
2857 May 1918 Apr 1963 Severn Valley Railway Stored Awaiting Overhaul The 2857 Society Purchased from Woodham Brothers in May 1974 by the 2857 Society for £5,775 it was later moved by rail to the Severn Valley Railway in August 1975 and steamed for the first time in September 1979. As of 2018 the engine is the second oldest of the class to run in preservation becoming 100 years old in May 2018.

In 1985 during the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Great Western Railway, it took a selection of the Severn Valley Railway's goods wagons to Newport for a Railfreight spectacular event.[8] The outward route took the engine via Worcester & Hereford with the return route being via Severn Tunnel Junction, Chepstow & Gloucester. The locomotive appeared in the 2020 film Enola Holmes.[9][10][11]

2859 May 1918 Dec 1964 Private Site, Congleton Under Restoration Private Owner Moved to Congleton from the Llangollen Railway for restoration in November 2017 following its sale to a private owner.[12]
2873 Nov 1918 Dec 1964 Dartmouth Steam Railway Dismantled Dartmouth Steam Railway Currently stored (frames only) at Churston. To be used as strategic Spares for other Great Western locomotives based on the Dartmouth Steam Railway.
2874 Nov 1918 May 1963 Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Under Restoration The 2874 Trust Under Restoration from Barry Scrapyard condition. Retains inside steam pipes and will be the only one of her class when restored running with inside steam pipes.

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 the next GWR 4700 Class 2-8-0 No. 4709.[13]


Hornby Railways manufacture a model of the 28xx in OO gauge. Dapol have announced their own OO model, including a website-exclusive model of the preserved 2874. Dapol will make financial contributions to the 2874 Trust based on the sales of the exclusive model. [14]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d Beck 1992, pp. 28–29.
  2. ^ Allcock et al. (1968), pp. 29–32.
  3. ^ Anderson, E. P. (26 February 1932). "Great Western Railway" (PDF). Board of Trade – via Railways Archive.
  4. ^ Hall, Stanley (1990). The Railway Detectives. London: Ian Allan. p. 101. ISBN 0-7110-1929-0.
  5. ^ Smith, Roger (22 August 2022). "Farewell plans released for steam locomotive 2857". RailAdvent. Retrieved 31 December 2022.
  6. ^ National Railway Museum (11 August 2017). "National Railway Museum transfers 2818 to STEAM" (Press release).
  7. ^ STEAM Museum (20 August 2018). "Tweet".[better source needed]
  8. ^ Moyle, David (9 March 2014). GWR 150th Anniversary 1985, Railfreight Spectacular with 2857. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Holden, Michael (30 September 2020). "Steam locomotive 2857 and the Severn Valley Railway stars in new Netflix film – Enola Holmes". Rail Advent. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  10. ^ Kinghorn, Barry (2 October 2020). "Enola Holmes was partly filmed at SVR". Worcester News. Worcester News. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
  11. ^ Farrington, Dayna (1 October 2020). "Severn Valley Railway stars in Netflix film Enola Holmes". Express & Star. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  12. ^ Wilcock, David (3 November 2017). "It nearly ended up on Ebay, but after 12 years a buyer is found for Llangollen 2-8-0". Steam Railway. No. 473. Peterborough: Bauer Media. pp. 8–9.
  13. ^ "Archive News of the 47XX Rebuild". Great Western Society 47XX Project. Didcot Railway Centre. January 2012. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015.
  14. ^ "New OO Gauge 28xx / 2884 2-8-0 Locomotive Announced".


  • Allcock, N. J.; Davies, F. K.; le Fleming, H. M.; Maskelyne, J. N.; Reed, P. J. T.; Tabor, F. J. (1968) [1951]. White, D. E. (ed.). The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, part one: Preliminary Survey. Kenilworth: RCTS.
  • Beck, Keith M. (August 1992). "Churchward Class 2800 2-8-0 No. 2866". Steam World. No. 62. Peterborough: EMAP Apex Publications.
  • Classic British Steam locomotives[full citation needed]
  • Whitehurst, Brian (1973). Great Western Engines, Names, Numbers, Types and Classes (1940 to Preservation). Oxford, UK: Oxford Publishing Company. pp. 27–28, 103, 130. ISBN 978-0-9028-8821-0. OCLC 815661.

External links[edit]