GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall

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GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall
GWR 'Hall' 5972 'Olton Hall' at Doncaster Works.JPG
5972 Olton Hall at Doncaster Works in July 2003
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerCharles Collett
BuilderGWR Swindon Works
Build date30 April 1937
 • Whyte4-6-0
Loco weight75 tons (67 long tons; 68 t)
OperatorsGreat Western Railway
British Railways
Official nameOlton Hall
First run1937
Last runJuly 2014
Withdrawn31 December 1963
Restored20 May 1998
Current ownerWest Coast Railways
DispositionStatic display at Warner Bros Studio Tour

5972 Olton Hall is a preserved Great Western Railway Hall class locomotive that came to prominence in the 2000s when used in the Harry Potter film series to haul the Hogwarts Express.


5972 at the National Railway Museum in June 2004
Hogwarts Castle name plate
5972 at York station in June 2014

Built in April 1937 at Swindon Works for the Great Western Railway (GWR), 5972 was first allocated to Carmarthen, South Wales where it remained until 1951. After being fitted with a three row superheater at Swindon Works, it was allocated to Plymouth Laira. Its last shed allocation was to Cardiff East Dock, before it was withdrawn in December 1963, and sold to Woodham Brothers, Barry for scrap in May 1964.[1][2]

Allocations and history[edit]

The locations of 5972 on particular dates.

30 April 1937 Carmarthen, CARM then 87G
31 March 1951 Plymouth Laira, 83D
October 1951 Tyseley, 84E
1 November 1952 Oxley, 84B
17 July 1954 Truro, 83F
September 1955 Penzance, 83G
29 November 1958 Plymouth Laira, 83D
8 August 1959 Severn Tunnel Junction, 86E
18 June 1960 Neath, 87A
15 November 1962 Fishguard Goodwick, 87J
29 June 1963 (Final Shed) Cardiff East Dock, 88L
31 December 1963 Withdrawn
31 December 1963-April 1964 Stored, Cardiff East Dock
May 1964 Purchased by Woodham Brothers
May 1981 Purchased for preservation
20 May 1998 Returned to steam


Woodham Brothers sold the locomotive to David Smith and moved to Horbury railway works in Wakefield in May 1981.[1][3][4] In 1994 it moved to Carnforth MPD for restoration, being steamed for the first time in 1998.[5]

Harry Potter film series[edit]

In the Harry Potter films, the locomotive is depicted pulling the Hogwarts Express, a fictional train, made up of four (later five) British Rail Mark 1 carriages. Scenes were filmed at King's Cross railway station, the Glenfinnan Viaduct and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway — along with internal scenes on board the train.

When filmed, Olton Hall carried a "Hogwarts Express" headboard on the smokebox, featuring the Hogwarts school crest. The same emblem is featured as part of the "Hogwarts Railways" sigil on the tender and carriages. It retained its GWR number of 5972, but with alternative nameplates fitted, naming the engine Hogwarts Castle. It is painted in a crimson livery — a non-standard colour, as GWR locomotives traditionally used green.[6]

Olton Hall was not the first locomotive to be re-liveried to appear hauling the Hogwarts Express. To promote the fourth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Southern Railway West Country Class locomotive 34027 Taw Valley was temporarily repainted and renamed. However, it was rejected by film director Chris Columbus as looking "too modern" for the film[citation needed], but it carried the name and colour for some months afterwards.

The renaming as "...Castle" has become a railway preservation joke: "...the Hall that thinks it's a Castle"—the Great Western Railway Castle Class engines were different and larger.

Three full-size replicas of the locomotive as 5972 Hogwarts Castle are at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Universal Orlando Resort). Two as part of the Hogwarts Express train ride[7] and the other is a static exhibit in the Hogsmeade area.[8] There are also static models at the other Wizarding World of Harry Potter locations in Hollywood[9] and Japan.[10]

In 2015 the locomotive was put on static display at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter, near Watford.[11][12]

Non-Hogwarts work[edit]

5972 is sometimes used for work other than its "Hogwarts" duties. In May 2009 it was moved temporarily to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, and in July 2009 it was based at Tyseley Locomotive Works for use on some of the regular Shakespeare Express trains run by Vintage Trains during the summer. It returned to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway during their annual Wizard's Weekend event in 2010. In late 2011 the locomotive was on static display in Hyde Park, London. In June–July 2014 it worked two final Wizards Express rail tours from Manchester to York before its mainline certificate expired.


The Hornby Railways model of the locomotive is actually a model of a Castle class locomotive, not a Hall. Tri-ang Hornby did release a model of the Hall class in 1966; however, this model was last offered in 1983 as 4930 Hagley Hall, a preserved locomotive on the Severn Valley Railway. While Hornby (the successor to Tri-ang Hornby) may still have the moulds, they were modified some years ago to produce a Saint class replica. New tooling for a Hall has since been introduced and is available in the current Hornby range (see below).

Other manufacturers have perpetuated this error, with Märklin using a Castle in its Hogwarts Express set. While Bachmann Branchline does produce models of the 'Hall' and 'Modified Hall' class locomotives, they have not offered one as 5972 "Hogwarts Castle (Olton Hall)", though Bachmann USA released one in their range.

In 2015 Hornby introduced their model "RailRoad GWR 4-6-0 'Olton Hall' 4900 Hall Class - R3169", originally announced in 2012.[13]

In 2019, Hornby announced a new Harry Potter range, comprising a range of Hogsmeade buildings based on the Goathland range from several years ago, and the Hogwarts Express set. Also available are 2 separate Hogwarts Castle locomotives with headlight, one being TTS Sound fitted. This is the first Hogwarts Castle model they have released being correctly of a Hall class.


  1. ^ a b "Olton Hall". Great Western Society. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  2. ^ "Our link with Harry Potter". Woodham Brothers. Archived from the original on 27 July 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2008.
  3. ^ Another Hall preserved The Railway Magazine issue 959 March 1981 page 151
  4. ^ How the Hogwarts Express was saved from a Welsh scrapyard BBC News 31 August 2018
  5. ^ Forgotten Hall steamed at Carnforth The Railway Magazine issue 1165 May 1998 page 13
  6. ^ Olton Hall to masquerade as a red Castle The Railway Magazine issue 1194 October 2000 page 13
  7. ^ Sim, Nick (12 October 2014). "The 5 Strangest Secrets of Universal's Hogwarts Express". Retrieved 30 June 2015. on-board the two Hogwarts Express trains.
  8. ^ Bevil, Dewayne (2 July 2014). "How Universal came up with Hogwarts Express and said goodbye to Jaws". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 30 June 2015. Of course, we [already] had a parked Hogwarts Express,
  9. ^ Levine, Arthur (14 April 2016). "Wizarding World of Harry Potter: What's different in Hollywood?". USA TODAY. As in the first Hogsmeade, a railroad station serving the Hogwarts Express greets visitors at the land's entrance. But the train in California doesn't move.
  10. ^ "Hogwarts™ Express Photo | Attractions|Universal Studios Japan™". Universal Studios Japan.
  11. ^ Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - Hogwarts Express Archived 27 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Surviving Steam Locomotive Search
  13. ^ "RailRoad GWR 4-6-0 'Olton Hall' 4900 Hall Class - R3169". Archived from the original on 4 February 2015.

External links[edit]