GWR 4000 Class

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Great Western Railway 4000 Star class
Hugh Llewelyn 4003 (5368245926).jpg
4003 Lode Star.
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerGeorge Jackson Churchward
BuilderGWR Swindon Works
Build date1906-1923
Total produced73
 • Whyte4-6-0 (prototye built as 4-4-2 but rebuilt to 4-6-0 1909).
 • UIC2′C h4
Gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Leading dia.3 ft 2 in (0.965 m)
Driver dia.6 ft 8 12 in (2.045 m)
Trailing dia.1 ft 1 12 in (0.343 m) (4-4-2 only)
Wheelbaseloco: 27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)
Loco weight75.8 long tons (77.0 t; 84.9 short tons)
Tender weight40 long tons (41 t; 45 short tons)
Water cap=3,500 imp gal (16,000 l; 4,200 US gal) - 4,000 imp gal (18,000 l; 4,800 US gal)
 • Firegrate area
27.1 sq ft (2.52 m2)
BoilerGWR Standard No. 1 (with variations)
Boiler pressure225 psi (1.55 MPa)
Heating surface:
 • Tubes
1,686.6 sq ft (156.69 m2)
 • Firebox154.8 sq ft (14.38 m2)
Superheater"Swindon No. 3"
Cylinders4, (2 outside, 2 inside)
Cylinder size14 14 in × 26 in (362 mm × 660 mm) -
15 in × 26 in (381 mm × 660 mm)
Valve gearWalschaerts inside
Valve typePiston valves
Performance figures
Tractive effort25,090 lbf (111.61 kN) - 27,800 lbf (123.66 kN)
OperatorsGreat Western Railway (until 1947); British Railways (until 1957).
Class4000 or Star
Power class
Axle load classGWR: Red
Disposition15 rebuilt as Castle class, 1 preserved, remainder scrapped.

The Great Western Railway 4000 or Star were a class of 4-cylinder 4-6-0 passenger steam locomotives designed by George Jackson Churchward for the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1906. The prototype was built as a 4-4-2 Atlantic (but converted to 4-6-0 during 1909). They proved to be a successful design which handled the heaviest long distance express trains and established the design principles for GWR 4-cylinder classes over the next twenty-five years.


After finally converting the last broad gauge lines in 1892, the GWR began a period of modernisation 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 new 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.[1] Following the success of the prototypes of his two-cylinder Saint class 4-6-0 locomotives, introduced in 1902, Churchward became interested in developing a more powerful 4-cylinder type for the longer non-stop express services. He therefore persuaded the GWR to acquire three French 4-cylinder 4-4-2 compound locomotives, 102 La France (1904) and 103 President and 104 Alliance (both 1905) for comparison purposes.


Star class prototype No. 40 as built as a 4-4-2

In addition to acquiring the French compound locomotives Churchward built and tested his own prototype 4-cylinder locomotive simple-expansion locomotive, No. 40 North Star in 1906. As with some early members of the Saint class it was built as a 4-4-2 but designed so that it could easily be converted to a 4-6-0. It was completed at the Swindon Works of the GWR (Lot 161) in April 1906.[2] It was numbered 40 and later that year was named 'North Star'. In November 1909 it was converted to 4-6-0. The new design incorporated many ideas from the French locomotives, in particular, the four-cylinder layout, with the inside cylinders placed forward under the smokebox and the outside cylinders placed far back, in line with the rear wheels of the bogie; from this followed the divided drive with the outside cylinders connected to the second set of driving wheels whilst the inside cylinders were connected to the front set of driving wheels.[3] The valve gear was an unusual design, called scissors gear, which eschewed the use of eccentrics, but was basically a variation on Walschaerts gear. The prototype locomotive was rebuilt as a member of the Castle Class in November 1929.

Production series[edit]

During initial trials the prototype proved to be largely successful although Charles Rous-Marten commented that 'there were indications that with heavier loads, and less favourable weather, greater adhesion would be needed.'[4] The production series were therefore all built with a 4-6-0 wheel arrangement.They also had inside Walschaerts valve gear rather than the scissors gear.[5] Seven series of what would later be known as 'Star Class' locomotives built between 1907 and 1923 each of which contained detailed differences from the others

Star series[edit]

First series No. 4003 Lode Star, at Tyseley Locomotive Works

The first series of ten locomotives were built at Swindon in 1907 (Lot 168) numbered 4001-4010 and named after well-known Stars, perpetuating the names of the earlier broad gauge GWR Star Class of 1838.[5] All except for No. 4010 Western Star were built without superheaters. No. 4010 received a 'Swindon No. 1' superheater and the remainder received superheated boilers between August 1909 and October 1912. No. 4009 Shooting Star was rebuilt as a member of the Castle Class in April 1925. The surviving members of the series were withdrawn 1932-1951, although No. 4003 Lode Star was preserved.

Knight series[edit]

A second series of ten similar locomotives appeared in 1908 (Swindon Lot 173), with improved bogies, numbered 4011–20 and named after historical knights. Nos. 4011 was built with a Swindon No. 1 superheater, the remainder were fitted with the standard No.3 superheater between 1909 and 1911.[5] They were withdrawn between 1932 and 1951.

King series[edit]

No. 4025 - after the name Italian Monarch was removed in 1940

A third series of ten further locomotives appeared during 1909 (Swindon Lot 178), numbered 4021-30 and named after British Kings. The framing for these had curved ends under the cab and over the cylinders. In June 1909, No. 4021 King Edward was built with a Swindon No. 3 superheater but the remainder had saturated steam boilers until 1910-13.[6] The class were all renamed during 1927 to allow for their names to be used on the new King Class. Instead, they were given names of a country followed by the word 'Monarch' (e.g. The Norwegian Monarch). However, several of the names relating to enemy countries were removed during the Second World War (1940-1). They were all withdrawn between 1934 and 1952.

Queen series[edit]

No. 4034 Queen Adelaide

A fourth series of ten further locomotives appeared during 1910 and 1911 (Swindon Lot 180). They were numbered 4031-40 and named after British Queens. This series (and subsequent members of the class) were all built with a Swindon No. 3 superheater.[6] This series was fitted with new style 3,500 imp gal (16,000 l; 4,200 US gal) tenders. Two examples (No. 4032 Queen Alexandra and No. 4037 Queen Philippa) were rebuilt as Castle class locomotives in 1926. The remainder were withdrawn by British Railways between 1950 and 1952.

Prince series[edit]

Five further locomotives appeared in 1913 (Swindon Lot 195). These were numbered 4041–5 and named after the sons of King George V. No. 4041 was built with enlarged 15 in × 26 in (381 mm × 660 mm) diameter cylinders giving a tractive effort of 27,800 lbf (123.66 kN). Once this was proved to be beneficial, this size gradually became the standard for the class, as they visited the works for their periodic overhaul.[6] The boilers were given top-feed apparatus which also later became standard for the whole class.[7] The locomotives were all withdrawn by British Railways between 1950 and 1953.

Princess series[edit]

No. 4049 Princess Maud

The GWR experienced a substantial growth in long distance passenger traffic immediately before the First World War requiring a further series of fifteen locomotives during the first six months of 1914 (Swindon Lot 199).[8] These were numbered 4046–60 and named after British princesses. They were all built with 15 in (381 mm) diameter cylinders and had improved boilers compared to the previous batch.[6] They also introduced an improved four-cone vacuum ejector made necessary to improve braking on the increasingly long passenger trains.[8] The locomotives were all withdrawn by British Railways between 1950 and 1957.

Abbey series[edit]

4061 Glastonbury Abbey

A final batch of sixteen further locomotives appeared in 1922-1923 (Swindon Lot 217). These were numbered 4061–72 and were named after famous Abbeys in the GWR territory. They were built with improved crank axles.[6] In 1937 Nos. 4063-4072 were all rebuilt as Castle Class locomotives, being renumbered 5083-5092 but retaining their original names. The remaining two locomotives were withdrawn by British Railways in 1956 and 1957.


The class was criticised in letters to The Engineer for being expensive to build and maintain and Churchward was asked by his Directors to explain why 'the London and North Western Railway could build three 4-6-0 locomotives for the cost of two of his.'[9] As a result, there were exchange trials proposed by Churchward with a LNWR Whale Experiment Class during August 1910 which vindicated the Star Class in terms of performance and coal consumption.


Members of the class performed well as passenger locomotives over all the long-distance routes of the GWR on the fastest express trains and those requiring the longest distance between stops. They gradually became displaced to secondary services by members of the Castle and King classes in the late 1920s and 1930s. Survivors continued to perform well until the mid-1950s. The 4000 class became a template for two later famous GWR 4-cylinder 4-6-0 classes - the Castle and King Class.[10] According to le Fleming "their performance was consistently of the highest standard and they were remarkable free-running engines which rarely suffered breakdown in service. ... No engines were more aptly named than the 'Stars.'"[11]


As already noted, between 1925 and 1940 Churchward's successor Charles Collett ordered fifteen examples to be dismantled and their parts used in the construction of new Castle class locomotives. Throughout their careers the remainder of the class was subject to detailed modifications and improvements to their boilers, smokeboxes, and steam pipes so that "the only period when the appearance of the class was approximately uniform was from 1925 to 1927".[12] 4,000 imp gal (18,000 l; 4,800 US gal) tenders were also fitted from 1938 onwards.


One example No. 4003 Lode Star has been preserved, after it was finally withdrawn in 1951, having covered 2,005,898 miles. The locomotive was preserved at Swindon railway works until 1962, then in the Museum of the Great Western Railway until transferred to the National Railway Museum in York in 1992, where it was a static non-working exhibit. In 2010 Lode Star was moved to Steam Museum in Swindon, as a static non-working exhibit. In November 2015, 4003 was moved back to the National Railway Museum.

List of locomotives[edit]

No. First name Second name Third name Date built Date withdrawn Notes
North Star Apr 1906 Nov 1929 Renumbered December 1912, rebuilt as Castle Class 4000
Dog Star Feb 1907 Jan 1934
Evening Star Mar 1907 Jun 1933
Lode Star Feb 1907 Jul 1951 Preserved at Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon
Morning Star Feb 1907 Apr 1948
Polar Star Feb 1907 Nov 1934
Red Star Apr 1907 Nov 1932
Rising Star Swallowfield Park Apr 1907 Sep 1951 Renamed May 1937
Royal Star May 1907 Jun 1935
Shooting Star May 1907 Apr 1925 Rebuilt as Castle Class 4009
Western Star May 1907 Nov 1934
Knight of the Garter Mar 1908 Nov 1932
Knight of the Thistle Mar 1908 Oct 1949
Knight of St. Patrick Mar 1908 May 1950
Knight of the Bath Mar 1908 Jun 1946
Knight of St. John Mar 1908 Feb 1951
Knight of the Golden Fleece Apr 1908 Oct 1925 Rebuilt as Castle Class 4016
Knight of the Black Eagle Knight of Liège Knight of Liége Apr 1908 Nov 1949 Renamed August 1914; name adjusted c. 1925 from French to Belgian spelling
Knight of the Grand Cross Apr 1908 Apr 1951
Knight Templar May 1908 Oct 1949
Knight Commander May 1908 Mar 1951
King Edward The British Monarch British Monarch Jun 1909 Oct 1952 Renamed June 1927 and October 1927
King William The Belgian Monarch Belgian Monarch Jun 1909 Feb 1952 Renamed June 1927 and October 1927, name removed May 1940
King George The Danish Monarch Danish Monarch Jun 1909 Jul 1952 Renamed July 1927 and October 1927, name removed November 1940
King James The Dutch Monarch Dutch Monarch Jun 1909 Feb 1935 Renamed September 1927 and November 1927
King Charles Italian Monarch Jul 1909 Aug 1950 Renamed October 1927, name removed June 1940
King Richard The Japanese Monarch Japanese Monarch Sep 1909 Feb 1950 Renamed July 1927 and November 1927, name removed January 1941
King Henry The Norwegian Monarch Norwegian Monarch Sep 1909 Oct 1934 Renamed July 1927 and November 1927
King John The Romanian Monarch Romanian Monarch Sep 1909 Nov 1951 Renamed July 1927 and November 1927, name removed November 1940
King Stephen The Spanish Monarch Spanish Monarch Oct 1909 Nov 1934 Renamed July 1927 and November 1927
King Harold The Swedish Monarch Swedish Monarch Oct 1909 May 1950 Renamed July 1927 and November 1927, name removed November 1940
Queen Mary Oct 1910 Jun 1951
Queen Alexandra Oct 1910 Apr 1926 Rebuilt as Castle Class 4032
Queen Victoria Nov 1910 Jun 1951
Queen Adelaide Nov 1910 Sep 1952
Queen Charlotte Nov 1910 Oct 1951
Queen Elizabeth Dec 1910 Mar 1952
Queen Philippa Dec 1910 Jun 1926 Rebuilt as Castle Class 4037, renamed 'The South Wales Borderers'
Queen Berengaria Jan 1911 Apr 1952
Queen Matilda Feb 1911 Nov 1950
Queen Boadicea Mar 1911 Jun 1951
Prince of Wales Jun 1913 Apr 1951
Prince Albert May 1913 Nov 1951
Prince Henry May 1913 Jan 1952
Prince George May 1913 Feb 1953
Prince John Jun 1913 Nov 1950
Princess Mary May 1914 Nov 1951
Princess Louise May 1914 Jul 1951
Princess Victoria May 1914 Jan 1953
Princess Maud May 1914 Jul 1953
Princess Alice Jun 1914 Feb 1952
Princess Helena Jun 1914 Oct 1950
Princess Beatrice Jun 1914 Jun 1953
Princess Alexandra Jun 1914 Jul 1954
Princess Charlotte Jun 1914 Feb 1952
Princess Sophia Jul 1914 Feb 1951
Princess Margaret Jul 1914 Oct 1957
Princess Elizabeth Jul 1914 Feb 1952
Princess Augusta Jul 1914 Apr 1951
Princess Patricia Jul 1914 Sep 1952
Princess Eugenie Jul 1914 Oct 1952
Glastonbury Abbey May 1922 Mar 1957
Malmesbury Abbey May 1922 Nov 1956
Bath Abbey Nov 1922 Jun 1937 Rebuilt as Castle Class 5083
Reading Abbey Dec 1922 Apr 1937 Rebuilt as Castle Class 5084
Evesham Abbey Dec 1922 Jul 1939 Rebuilt as Castle Class 5085
Malvern Abbey Sir Robert Horne Viscount Horne Dec 1922 Dec 1937 Rebuilt as Castle Class 5086
Tintern Abbey Jan 1923 Nov 1940 Rebuilt as Castle Class 5087
Llanthony Abbey Jan 1923 Feb 1939 Rebuilt as Castle Class 5088
Margam Abbey Westminster Abbey Jan 1923 Oct 1939 Renamed 1923. Rebuilt as Castle Class 5089
Neath Abbey Feb 1923 Apr 1939 Rebuilt as Castle Class 5090
Cleeve Abbey Feb 1923 Dec 1938 Rebuilt as Castle Class 5091
Tresco Abbey Feb 1923 Apr 1938 Rebuilt as Castle Class 5092

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 15 April 1923, locomotive No. 4048 Princess Victoria was hauling a freight train that was in a head-on collision with a passenger train at Curry Rivel, Somerset due to a signalman's error. Nine people were injured.[13]


  1. ^ Nock 1980, p. 11
  2. ^ le Fleming 1953, p. H6
  3. ^ Nock 1983, p. 154
  4. ^ Nock 1980, p. 29
  5. ^ a b c le Fleming 1953, p. H7
  6. ^ a b c d e le Fleming 1953, p. H8
  7. ^ Nock 1980, p. 51
  8. ^ a b Nock 1980, pp. 51–2
  9. ^ Nock 1980, p. 48
  10. ^ le Fleming 1953, p. H4
  11. ^ le Fleming 1953, p. H10
  12. ^ le Fleming 1953, p. H9
  13. ^ Vaughan 1989, pp. 29-32.
  • 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. (1980). The GWR Stars, Castles and Kings. London: Book Club Associates.
  • Vaughan, Adrian (1989). Obstruction Danger. Wellingborough: Patrick Stephens Limited. ISBN 1-85260-055-1.

External links[edit]