GWR 4900 Class

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GWR 4900 Class
GWR 4900 Class 4953 Pitchford Hall.jpg
Preserved 4953 Pitchford Hall
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Designer Charles Collett
Builder GWR Swindon Works
Build date 1928–1943
Total produced 259
Configuration 4-6-0
UIC classification 2'Ch
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Leading wheel
3 ft 0 in (0.914 m)
Driver diameter 6 ft 0 in (1.829 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) over buffers
Width 8 ft 11 14 in (2.72 m)
Height 13 ft 3 14 in (4.04 m)
Axle load 18 long tons 19 cwt (42,400 lb or 19.3 t)
Weight on drivers 57 long tons 0 cwt (127,700 lb or 57.9 t)
Locomotive weight 75 long tons 0 cwt (168,000 lb or 76.2 t)
Tender weight 46 long tons 14 cwt (104,600 lb or 47.4 t)
Fuel type Coal
Water capacity 4,000 imp gal (18,000 l; 4,800 US gal)
Boiler pressure 225 lbf/in2 (1,550 kPa; 15.8 kgf/cm2)
Firegrate area 27.07 square feet (2.515 m2)
Heating surface:
– Tubes and flues
1,686.60 square feet (156.690 m2)
– Firebox 154.78 square feet (14.380 m2)
Superheater area 262.62 square feet (24.398 m2)
Cylinders Two, outside
Cylinder size 18.5 in × 30 in (470 mm × 762 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort 27,275 lbf (121,330 N)
Operator(s) GWR » BR
Power class GWR: D,
Number(s) 4900–4999, 5900–5999, 6900–6958
Official name Hall
Axle load class GWR: Red
Withdrawn 1960–1965
Preserved 4920, 4930, 4936, 4942, 4953, 4965, 4979, 5900, 5952, 5967, 5972
Disposition 11 preserved or extant, remainder scrapped

The Great Western Railway (GWR) 4900 Class or Hall Class is a class of 4-6-0 mixed traffic steam locomotives designed by Charles Collett. A total of 259 were built, numbered 4900–4999, 5900–5999 and 6900–6958. The LMS Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 and LNER Thompson Class B1 both drew heavily on design features of the Hall Class. After nationalisation in 1948, British Railways gave them the power classification 5MT.



The prototype was rebuilt from GWR Saint Class number 2925 Saint Martin in 1924 with smaller driving wheels. Additionally the cylinders were realigned in relation to the driving axle and a more modern 'Castle'-type cab was fitted. The rebuilt Saint Martin emerged from Swindon in 1924 and, renumbered 4900, embarked on three years of trials. During this period Collett introduced other modifications. The pitch of the taper boiler was altered and outside steam pipes were added.


Satisfied with no.4900's performance Collett placed an order with Swindon works and the first of the new two-cylinder Halls entered service in 1928. They differed little from the prototype; the bogie wheel diameter had been reduced by two inches from 3 ft 2 in (0.965 m) to 3 ft 0 in (0.914 m) and the valve setting amended to give an increased travel of 7.5 in (191 mm). The overall weight of the locomotive had increased by 2 long tons 10 cwt (5,600 lb or 2.5 t) to 75 long tons 0 cwt (168,000 lb or 76.2 t) but a tractive effort of 27,275 lbf (121.33 kN) compared favourably with the 24,935 lbf (110.92 kN) of the 'Saint'.

In what amounted to a trial run the first 14 were despatched to the arduous proving grounds of the Cornish main line. However they were so successful here and elsewhere on the GWR system that by the time the first production batch of 80 had been completed in 1930 a further 178 were on order. By 1935, 150 were in service and the 259th and last Hall, No. 6958 Oxburgh Hall, was delivered in 1943.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 30 April 1941, Locomotive No. 4911 Bowden Hall took a direct hit during a bombing raid on the Keyham area of Plymouth and was later broken up.[1] The locomotive had stopped at a signal box because of an air raid, and the crew survived by sheltering under the steps of the signal box.[2] No. 4911 was one of two GWR locomotives damaged beyond repair in Britain during World War II. The other was GWR 1854 Class No. 1729.[3]
  • On 13 February 1961, Locomotive No. 6949 Haberfield Hall was in collision with a freight train that was being shunted at Baschurch, Shropshire due to a signalman's error. Three people were killed and two were injured.[4]
  • On 25 August 1962, a passenger train stopped at Torquay, Devon due to the failure of the locomotive hauling it. Locomotive No. 4932 Hatherton Hall was hauling a passenger train that overran signals and was in a rear-end collision with it. Twenty-three people were injured.[5]

Modified Hall[edit]

Collett had been replaced by F.W. Hawksworth in 1941 and Hawksworth created a modified version known as the Modified Hall Class which remained in production until 1950. One of Hawksworth's modifications in changing the design was to equip it better to cope with the low quality coal available during the war. If anything the situation worsened after the war, leading to serious consideration being given to oil firing. Beginning in 1946 with No. 5955 Garth Hall the GWR converted 11 of the class to burn oil. Within four years, however, they had all reverted to coal.

British Railways[edit]

All but one of the original Collett Halls entered British Railways service in 1948, the exception being No. 4911 Bowden Hall. Official withdrawals began in 1959 with the prototype Saint Martin. Its accumulated mileage, both in its original form and rebuilt form, was a remarkable 2,092,500 miles.

Operation in Preservation[edit]

By 1965 the last Hall had been withdrawn from the Western Region without a single one entering the National Collection. Eleven examples of the Hall class have survived to preservation and No. 4942 Maindy Hall is being back-converted into a GWR Saint Class locomotive at Didcot. The other ten locomotives were purchased directly from Woodham Brothers scrapyard at Barry.

The first "Hall" to leave Barry was 4965 Rood Ashton Hall, then thought to be 4983 Albert Hall, which was purchased in 1970 by 7029 Clun Castle Ltd. It was then followed by 5900 Hinderton Hall in 1971 and 4930 Hagley Hall in 1972, purchased by the Great Western Society and Severn Valley Railway respectively. Both were restored to working order in 1976 and 1979 respectively, and both were certified for main line operation. They were followed by 4942 Maindy Hall in 1974, which had been purchased by the GWS as the basis for a recreated "Saint" class 4-6-0, 2999 Lady of Legend.

Three more "Halls" were rescued from Barry in 1981 - 4936 Kinlet Hall for the Kinlet Hall Locomotive Society, 5952 Cogan Hall for the Cambrian Railway Trust, and 5972 Olton Hall for Procor (UK) Ltd. After this, no further "Halls" were rescued until 1984 when 4953 Pitchford Hall was purchased by Dr John Kennedy and began a nomadic existence including a period of store at Thingley Junction until 2003 when it was moved to Tyseley for restoration. The last two "Halls" rescued were 4979 Wootton Hall in 1986 for the Fleetwood Locomotive Centre and 5967 Bickmarsh Hall in 1987 for the Northampton & Lamport Railway.

In Preservation out of the 10 Halls to be preserved 6 have seen Mainline action: 4930 Hagley Hall, 4936 Kinlet Hall, 4953 Pitchford Hall, 4965 Rood Ashton Hall, 5900 Hinderton Hall and 5972 Olton Hall.

As of May 2015, two "Halls" are certified for mainline operation; 4936 Kinlet Hall which is currently[when?] based at Minehead on the West Somerset Railway and 4965 Rood Ashton Hall which is based at Tyseley Locomotive Works, 5972 Olton Hall was the third engine to in recent years carry a mainline certificate but this expired in August 2014 with the soon to follow boiler certificate and is now on static display at Warner Brothers studio tour awaiting an overhaul.

Other members of the class, 4930 Hagley Hall, 4953 Pitchford Hall and 5967 Bickmarsh Hall are being restored at Bridgnorth, North Weald, and Northampton respectively; 4979 Wootton Hall and 5952 Cogan Hall are both in ex-Barry condition; 4979 is owned by the Furness Railway Trust and is stored undercover at the Ribble Steam Railway undergoing restoration, while 5952 is owned by the 6880 Betton Grange Project and is stored at Llangollen, initially for use as a parts donor for 6880 before being restored to working order at a later date. The other two engines, 4920 Dumbleton Hall and 5900 Hinderton Hall are stored at Buckfastleigh and Didcot respectively awaiting overhauls.

More latterly, 5972 Olton Hall has gained fame as the locomotive used in the Harry Potter film series. Owned by David Smith and painted red following its restoration to working order, the locomotive was selected for use as the engine for the 'Hogwarts Express' in 2001 and subsequently used in filming at Leavesden Studios, Kings Cross and also on the West Highland Line between Mallaig and Fort William between 2001 and 2010, painted in the fictitious 'Hogwarts Railway' livery and renamed as Hogwarts Castle. It currently[when?] carries a 10A (Carnforth) shedplate in recognition of its current[when?] home at Carnforth, although it often appears elsewhere in service or on display. 5972's boiler certificate expired in 2014.

Locos in Preservation[edit]

Number Name Built Withdrawn Base Status Notes
4920 Dumbleton Hall March 1929 December 1965 South Devon Railway Static display, awaiting overhaul.
4930 Hagley Hall May 1929 December 1963 Severn Valley Railway Undergoing overhaul.
4936 Kinlet Hall June 1929 January 1964 Tyseley Locomotive Works Operational, mainline certified. Currently on-loan to West Somerset Railway
4942 Maindy Hall July 1929 December 1963 Didcot Railway Centre Undergoing Reconfiguration currently being 'regressed' back to a GWR Saint Class.
4953 Pitchford Hall August 1929 May 1963 Epping Ongar Railway. Awaiting Overhaul Boiler ticket expired August 2013
4965 Rood Ashton Hall November 1930 March 1962 Tyseley Locomotive Works. Operational, mainline certified.
4979 Wootton Hall February 1930 December 1963 Ribble Steam Railway Undergoing Restoration. Owned by Furness Railway Trust and was moved to Preston on 27 October.
5900 Hinderton Hall March 1931 December 1963 Didcot Railway Centre, Static display, awaiting overhaul.
5952 Cogan Hall December 1935 June 1964 Llangollen Railway, Spares Donor. Some parts being used for 6880 Betton Grange, but will hopefully be restored to working order.
5967 Bickmarsh Hall March 1937 June 1964 Northampton & Lamport Railway Undergoing restoration.
5972 Olton Hall April 1937 December 1963 Carnforth MPD, Static Display Mainline Certificate Expired Aug 29th and is currently on display at Warner Bros Studio's in Watford for 2 years display. Famed for hauling the The Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films & Carried Hogwarts Castle nameplates.
5972 Olton Hall in fictitious red livery for the filming of the Harry Potter films.

List of locomotives[edit]

In fiction[edit]

In the Harry Potter films, No. 5972 Olton Hall was used to pull the Hogwarts Express.


  1. ^ Riley, R.C. (1966). Great Western Album. Shepperton: Ian Allan. p. 90. ISBN 0 7110 0073 5. 
  2. ^ Bryan, Tim (1995). The Great Western at War 1939-1945 (1 ed.). Yeovil, Somerset, UK: Patrick Stephens. p. 94. ISBN 1-85260-479-4. OCLC 60238810. 
  3. ^ Stewart-David, David; Wood, Peter (2 July 2014). "The role of railways in the Second World War". The Railway Magazine (Horncastle, Lincs, UK: Mortons Media) 160 (1,360): 50. ISSN 0033-8923. 
  4. ^ Earnshaw, Alan (1991). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 7. Penryn: Atlantic Books. p. 39. ISBN 0-906899-50-8. 
  5. ^ Earnshaw, Alan (1993). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 8. Penryn: Atlantic Books. pp. Front cover, 3. ISBN 0-906899-52-4. 
  • Haresnape, Brian (1978). Collett & Hawksworth Locomotives, A Pictorial History. Ian Allan Ltd. ISBN 0-7110-0869-8. 
  • Whitehurst, Brian (1973). Great Western engines, names, numbers, types, classes: 1940 to preservation. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Company. pp. 42–44, 53–55, 62–63. 103, 144. ISBN 0-902888-21-8. OCLC 815661. 

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