GWR 2900 Class
2933 Bibury Court
The Great Western Railway 2900 or Saint Class incorporated several series of 2-cylinder passenger steam locomotives designed by George Jackson Churchward and built between 1902 and 1913 with differences in the dimensions. The majority of these were built as 4-6-0 locomotives; but thirteen examples were built as 4-4-2 (but converted to 4-6-0 during 1912/13). They proved to be a successful class which established the design principles for GWR 2-cylinder classes over the next fifty years.
After finally converting the last broad gauge lines in 1892, the Great Western Railway (GWR) began a period of modernization as new cut-off lines shortened its routes to west of England, South Wales and Birmingham. During the first decade of the twentieth century the Chief Mechanical Engineer, George Jackson Churchward, designed or acquired a number of experimental locomotives with different wheel arrangements and boiler designs to help him plan for the future motive power needs of the railway.  The first of these was a two-cylinder 4-6-0 locomotive, designed in 1901 whilst Churchward was still the Chief Assistant of his predecessor William Dean.
Between 1902 and 1905 Churchward built and tested three prototype locomotives with detail differences, before using the third as the basis for the production series.
The first prototype was completed at the Swindon Works of the GWR (Lot 132) in February 1902. It was numbered 100 and in June 1902 was named Dean (later William Dean) to mark the latter's retirement. The new design incorporated all of Churchward's current ideas including a domeless parallel boiler, raised Belpaire firebox, 19 in (48.3 cm) diameter outside cylinders with 30 in (76.2 cm) piston stroke, and boiler pressure of 200 psi (1.38 MPa). The piston valves were driven by rocking levers actuated by the expansion link of Stephenson valve gear – this particular design was only used on no. 100. The parallel boiler was later replaced with a taper boiler, and then the first superheated taper boiler in 1910. Churchward had studied American boiler design, but he was also later influenced by continental practice in efficient motion design. From the Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques (SACM) a de Glehn 4-4-2 compound engine was ordered for comparative trials on the GWR. According to E.C. Poultney, No. 100 was the first 4-6-0 locomotive to have high enough boiler capacity and steam ports large enough to handle the steam flow required by large cylinders: "The engine probably influenced to a large extent the use made of engines of the 4-6-0 type". No.100 was renumbered 2900 in 1912, and was withdrawn from service in 1932.
A second prototype locomotive, No. 98, was built at Swindon in March 1903 (Lot 138) to a similar design but with a taper boiler, re-designed valve gear layout and cylinders and a shorter wheelbase. Valve diameters were increased from 6 1⁄2 inches (170 mm) to 10 inches (250 mm). According to Poultney, these improvements "may truly be said to be the keystone of the arch upon which all modern locomotives are designed". In 1906 this locomotive was re-boilered with a 225 psi (1.55 MPa) boiler to correspond with the third prototype. This prototype locomotive was named Vanguard in 1907 (renamed Ernest Cunard in the same year). It was renumbered 2998 in 1912, received a superheated boiler in 1911 and was withdrawn in 1933.
A third prototype, No. 171, was built at Swindon in December 1903 (Lot 145) incorporating the improvements to No. 98 but with a 225 psi (1.55 MPa) boiler and minor amendments to the heating surface and grate area. It was built as a 4-6-0 but in October 1904 it was converted to a 4-4-2 to enable better comparison with the performance of the de Glehn compound; it was reconverted to 4-6-0 in July 1907. The conversion was carried out by substituting 4 ft 1 1⁄2 in (1.257 m) trailing wheels with outside suspension for the final set of driving wheels. It was named Albion in 1904, renumbered 2971 in 1912, received a superheated boiler in 1910 and was withdrawn in 1946. No. 171 formed the basis of the main production series, introduced in 1905, although at this time Churchward was still unsure of the relative merits of the 4-4-2 and 4-6-0 wheel arrangements.
The Saint class appeared in four production series built between 1905 and 1913, each of which differed in dimensions. There were also differences between members of each series in terms of the boilers used, wheel arrangement, and arrangements for superheating. Different series and individual locomotives within series were also fitted with different tenders ranging from 3,500 imp gal (16,000 l; 4,200 US gal) to 4,000 imp gal (18,000 l; 4,800 US gal) capacity.
Whilst 171 was undergoing trials in 1905 nine further locomotives were ordered to be built at Swindon to a similar design (Lot 154) followed by a further ten (Lot 158). Thirteen of these were built as 4-4-2s and six as 4-6-0s. However, by January 1913, Churchward was persuaded by the superior adhesion provided by a 4-6-0 and they had all been converted to this wheel arrangement. The new locomotives were numbered 172–190 (renumbered 2972–2990 in 1912). They were named after characters in the novels of Sir Walter Scott.
A second series of ten similar locomotives appeared in May 1906 (Swindon Lot 164), numbered 2901–10 and named after historical, mythological of poetical 'Ladies'. Nos. 2904–6 had short tapered boilers and short smokeboxes, whereas Nos. 2902–3 and 2907–10 had longer versions. All except 2901 had 18.125 in × 30 in (460 mm × 762 mm) cylinders, giving a tractive effort of 23,382 lbf (104.01 kN). No. 2901 Lady Superior was the first British locomotive to be built with a modern Schmidt superheater. The remainder of the locomotives were fitted with Swindon No.3 superheaters between 1909 and 1911 and were withdrawn between 1933 and 1952.
A third series of twenty further locomotives appeared during August and September 1907 (Swindon Lot 170), numbered 2911–30 and named after Saints. The framing for these had long curved ends under the cab and over the cylinders, which greatly improved the rather angular appearance of the earlier locomotives. They were fitted with cone boilers and smokeboxes. In October 1908, No. 2922 Saint Gabriel was fitted with a Swindon No. 2 superheater. The following year the Swindon No. 3 superheater became standard for the class. Between 1909 and 1912 the remainder of the locomotives were fitted with the Swindon No. 3 superheater, which became standard for the class. The Saints were withdrawn between 1932 and 1951. No. 2925 Saint Martin was rebuilt with smaller wheels in December 1924 to become the prototype Hall class and renumbered 4900.
A fourth series of 25 locomotives appeared during the years 1911 to 1913 (Swindon Lots 185, 189 and 192). These were numbered 2931–55 and named after famous Courts (i.e. mansions). They were all built with superheaters and there were detailed differences between the boilers used on different lots. They were all withdrawn between 1948 and 1953.
The locomotives performed well as passenger locomotives over all the long-distance routes of the GWR and on all but the fastest express trains until they gradually became displaced to secondary services by the Castle Class in the late 1920s and 1930s. However, the 6 ft 8 1⁄2 in (2.045 m) driving wheels limited their usefulness on freight trains. Churchward had recognized this limitation by the introduction of his GWR 4700 Class 2-8-0 design with 5 ft 8 in (1.727 m) driving wheels in 1919, intended for express goods trains. However, Churchward’s successor Charles Collett felt that a smaller-wheeled version of the ‘Saint’ class could form the basis of a successful mixed traffic class of locomotives. He therefore rebuilt No. 2925 Saint Martin with 6 ft (1.829 m) driving wheels to become the prototype of his successful Hall Class locomotives. Thus the 2900 class became a template for later GWR 2-cylinder 4-6-0 classes including the Modified Hall, Grange, Manor and County classes, all of which were of the same basic design.
Collett also experimented on several other members of the class. In 1923 No. 2933 was given an altered blastpipe and in 1927 No. 2947 was fitted with cylinder by-pass valves. In 1931 No. 2935 was rebuilt with rotary cam poppet valve gear.
The class incorporated many revolutionary advances which were influential in British locomotive design for the next fifty years. According to The Great Western Society, 'Saint' class locomotives "represented one of the most important steps forward in railway traction of the 20th century", and they "are now acknowledged to have had a profound influence on almost every aspect of subsequent steam locomotive development".
Accidents and incidents
- On 9 January 1932, locomotive No. 2949 Stanford Court was hauling a milk train that overran signals at Didcot East Junction and collided with a freight train. The locomotive was derailed and six wagons were slightly damaged.
Because no Saints survived into preservation, the Great Western Society at Didcot is currently reverting 4942 Maindy Hall to be 2999 - Lady of Legend when running as a 4-6-0 and 191 Churchward when it runs as 4-4-2.
List of locomotives
|2900||William Dean||February 1902||June 1932||Originally unnamed. Carried name Dean from June to November 1902|
|2901||Lady Superior||May 1906||April 1933||Named October 1906|
|2902||Lady of the Lake||May 1906||August 1949||Named April 1907|
|2903||Lady of Lyons||May 1906||November 1949||Named April 1907|
|2904||Lady Godiva||May 1906||October 1932||Named April 1907|
|2905||Lady Macbeth||May 1906||April 1948||Named April 1907|
|2906||Lady of Lynn||May 1906||August 1952||Named May 1907|
|2907||Lady Disdain||May 1906||July 1933||Named April 1907|
|2908||Lady of Quality||May 1906||December 1950||Named May 1907|
|2909||Lady of Provence||May 1906||November 1931||Named May 1907|
|2910||Lady of Shalott||May 1906||October 1931||Named May 1907|
|2911||Saint Agatha||August 1907||March 1935|
|2912||Saint Ambrose||August 1907||February 1951|
|2913||Saint Andrew||August 1907||May 1948|
|2914||Saint Augustine||August 1907||January 1946|
|2915||Saint Bartholomew||August 1907||October 1950|
|2916||Saint Benedict||August 1907||July 1948|
|2917||Saint Bernard||August 1907||October 1934|
|2918||Saint Catherine||August 1907||February 1935|
|2919||Saint Cuthbert||September 1907||February 1932||Originally named Saint Cecelia; renamed October 1907|
|2920||Saint David||September 1907||October 1953||The Last Saint to be withdrawn from service|
|2921||Saint Dunstan||September 1907||December 1946|
|2922||Saint Gabriel||September 1907||January 1945|
|2923||Saint George||September 1907||October 1934|
|2924||Saint Helena||September 1907||March 1950|
|2925||Saint Martin||September 1907||December 1924||Rebuilt to prototype Hall class|
|2926||Saint Nicholas||September 1907||September 1951|
|2927||Saint Patrick||September 1907||December 1951|
|2928||Saint Sebastian||September 1907||August 1948|
|2929||Saint Stephen||September 1907||December 1949|
|2930||Saint Vincent||September 1907||November 1949|
|2931||Arlington Court||October 1911||February 1951|
|2932||Ashton Court||October 1911||June 1951|
|2933||Bibury Court||November 1911||January 1953|
|2934||Butleigh Court||November 1911||June 1952|
|2935||Caynham Court||November 1911||December 1948|
|2936||Cefntilla Court||November 1911||April 1951|
|2937||Clevedon Court||December 1911||June 1953|
|2938||Corsham Court||December 1911||August 1952|
|2939||Croome Court||December 1911||December 1950|
|2940||Dorney Court||December 1911||January 1952|
|2941||Easton Court||May 1912||December 1949|
|2942||Fawley Court||May 1912||December 1949|
|2943||Hampton Court||May 1912||January 1951|
|2944||Highnam Court||May 1912||November 1951|
|2945||Hillingdon Court||June 1912||June 1953|
|2946||Langford Court||June 1912||November 1949|
|2947||Madresfield Court||June 1912||April 1951|
|2948||Stackpole Court||June 1912||November 1951|
|2949||Stanford Court||May 1912||January 1952|
|2950||Taplow Court||May 1912||September 1952|
|2951||Tawstock Court||March 1913||June 1952|
|2952||Twineham Court||March 1913||September 1951|
|2953||Titley Court||March 1913||February 1952|
|2954||Tockenham Court||March 1913||July 1952|
|2955||Tortworth Court||April 1913||May 1950|
|2971||Albion||December 1903||February 1946||Built as No. 171. Named Albion February 1904. Rebuilt to 4-4-2, October 1904. Renamed The Pirate March 1907. Rebuilt back to 4-6-0, July 1907 and renamed Albion. Renumbered 2971, 1913.|
|2972||The Abbot||February 1905||March 1935||Built as 4-4-2 No. 172 Quicksilver, named after a stagecoach operating between London and Devonport. Renamed March 1907. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, April 1912.|
|2973||Robins Bolitho||March 1905||July 1933||Built as No. 173|
|2974||Lord Barrymore||March 1905||August 1933||Built as No. 174 Barrymore. Renamed, May 1905|
|2975||Lord Palmer||March 1905||November 1944||Built as unnamed No. 175. Named Viscount Churchill, 1907. Renamed Sir Ernest Palmer, February 1924. Renamed Lord Palmer, in October 1933.|
|2976||Winterstoke||April 1905||January 1934||Built as unnamed No. 176. Named, April 1907.|
|2977||Robertson||April 1905||February 1935||Built as unnamed No. 177. Named, April 1907.|
|2978||Charles J. Hambro||April 1905||August 1946||Built as No. 178 Kirkland, named after racehorse owned by Sir Frank Bibby. Renamed, May 1935.|
|2979||Quentin Durward||April 1905||January 1951||Built as 4-4-2 No. 179 Magnet. Renamed, March 1907. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, August 1912.|
|2980||Coeur de Lion||May 1905||May 1948||Built as unnamed 4-4-2 No. 180. Named in March 1907 after subject of the novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, January 1913.|
|2981||Ivanhoe||June 1905||March 1951||Built as unnamed 4-4-2 No. 181. Named in 1907. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, July 1912.|
|2982||Lalla Rookh||June 1905||June 1946||Built as unnamed 4-4-2 No. 182. Named in 1906. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, November 1912.|
|2983||Redgauntlet||July 1905||March 1946||Built as 4-4-2 No. 183 Red Gauntlet. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, April 1912. Renamed Redgauntlet, June 1915.|
|2984||Guy Mannering||July 1905||May 1933||Built as 4-4-2 No. 184 Churchill. Renamed Viscount Churchill in 1906. Renamed Guy Mannering, 1907. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, August 1912.|
|2985||Peveril of the Peak||July 1905||August 1931||Built as unnamed 4-4-2 No. 185. Named Winterstoke, February 1906. Renamed Peveril of the Peak, April 1907. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, May 1912. Withdrawn August 1931.|
|2986||Robin Hood||July 1905||November 1932||Built as unnamed 4-4-2 No. 186. Named in April 1906. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, May 1912.|
|2987||Bride of Lammermoor||August 1905||October 1949||Built as unnamed 4-4-2 No. 187. Named Robertson after a GWR Director, November 1905. Renamed Bride of Lammermoor, April 1907. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, June 1912.|
|2988||Rob Roy||August 1905||May 1948||Built as unnamed 4-4-2 No. 188. Named, 1907. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, May 1912.|
|2989||Talisman||September 1905||September 1948||Built as unnamed 4-4-2 No. 189. Named, 1906. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, October 1912.|
|2990||Waverley||September 1905||January 1939||Built as unnamed 4-4-2 No. 190. Named, 1906. Rebuilt as 4-6-0, November 1912.|
|2998||Ernest Cunard||March 1903||June 1933||Built as unnamed No. 98. Named Persimmon, 1906. Renamed Vanguard, March 1907. Renamed Ernest Cunard, December 1907. Renumbered 2998 in 1913.|
|2999||Lady of Legend||—||—||Modern conversion from previous 4900 class, 4942 Maindy Hall|
- Nock 1980, p. 11
- le Fleming 1953, p. H22
- Nock 1983, p. 12
- Nock 1983, p. 21
- Great Western Society – GW 2900 Class overview (Accessed 26 April 2009)
- Poultney 1952, p. 47-7
- le Fleming 1953, p. H23
- Poultney 1952, p. 66
- Atlantic Option
- le Fleming 1953, p. H24
- le Fleming 1953, p. H4
- le Fleming 1953, p. H25
- Saint Project
- Anderson, E. P. (26 February 1932). "Great Western Railway" (PDF). Board of Trade.
- Davies 1993, p. P141
- Davies 1993, p. P129
- Davies 1993, p. P113
- Davies 1993, p. P143
- Allan, Ian (March 1944). The ABC of Great Western Locomotives. Ian Allan.
- Bradley, Rodger (1988). GWR Two Cylinder 4–6–0s and 2–6–0s. Newton Abbot, Devon: David and Charles Publishing plc.
- Davies, Ken (April 1993). The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, part fourteen: Names and their Origins - Railmotor Services - War Service - The Complete Preservation Story. Lincoln: RCTS. ISBN 0-901115-75-4. OCLC 59928196.
- le Fleming, H.M. (July 1953). White, D.E., ed. The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway. Part 8. Modern Passenger Classes (1st ed.). Kenilworth: The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society. ISBN 0-901115-19-3. OCLC 500544523.
- Nock, O. S. (1983). British Locomotives of the 20th Century Vol.1. London: Book Club Associates.
- Nock, O. S. (1983). Great Western 'Saint' Class 4–6–0. Cambridge: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 0-85059-632-7.
- Nock, O. S. (1980). The GWR Stars, Castles and Kings. London: Book Club Associates.
- Poultney, Edward Cecil (March 1952). British Express Locomotive Development. George Allen and Unwin.
- "The Atlantic Option". 2999 Lady of Legend. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "Latest News". 2999 Lady of Legend. May 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "The Saint Project". 2999 Lady of Legend. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
- "Lady of Legend details". Great Western Society website. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
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