GWR 6000 Class
6024 King Edward I at Didcot
The Great Western Railway 6000 Class or King is a class of 4-6-0 steam locomotive designed for express passenger work. With the exception of one Pacific (The Great Bear), they were the largest locomotives the GWR built. They were named after kings of the United Kingdom and of England, beginning with the reigning monarch, King George V, and going back through history. Following the death of King George V, the highest-numbered engine was renamed after his successor; and following the abdication of the latter, the next-highest engine was also renamed after the new King.
After developing the new GWR Castle class from George Jackson Churchward's GWR Star class, Chief mechanical engineer C.B. Collett was faced with the need to develop an even more powerful locomotive to pull 13+ carriage express trains. Resultantly, during planning and construction, the new engine design was dubbed the "Super-Castle".
Collett successfully argued with the GWR's General Manager, Sir Felix Pole, that had the axle-loading restriction of 19.5 long tons (19,800 kg) of the "Castle" class been increased to the maximum allowable of 22.5 long tons (22,900 kg), an even more powerful locomotive could have been created. Pole agreed to allow Collett to explore such a design, subject to getting tractive effort above 40,000 lbf (180,000 N).
As well as to meet future traffic requirements, the design requirement was also a response to the GWR's publicity department's desire to regain the title of having the "most powerful express passenger steam locomotive in Britain", which had been taken from the Castle Class in 1926 by the Southern Railway Lord Nelson Class.
Churchward had proposed fitting the 6 ft (1.83 m) diameter boiler used on his 4700 Class 2-8-0 on to a 4-6-0 chassis in 1919 to create a more powerful express locomotive, but had been prevented from doing so due to weight restrictions on several bridges on the GWR main line. Collett's "Castle" class of 1923 was therefore a compromise with a 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) boiler. However, bridge strengthening and a better understanding of the effect of hammer blow on structures brought about by the work of the Bridge Stress Committee set up by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research led to the relaxation of these restrictions.
Collett hence designed the "King" class to the maximum dimensions of the original GWR 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) broad-gauge engineering used to develop its mainline, resulting in the largest loading gauge of all the pre-nationalisation railways in the UK, with a maximum height allowance of 13 feet 5 inches (4.09 m). Consequently, this restricted the "King"s as to where they could operate under both GWR and British Railways ownership. To accommodate the largest possible boiler, the "King" class were equipped with smaller 6 ft 6 in (1.981 m) main driving wheels than the "Castle" class, with boiler pressure raised to a maximum of 250 pounds per square inch (1.72 MPa). This resulted in both the GWR's highest-powered locomotive design, but most importantly a higher tractive effort than the "Castle". This combination allowed the "King" class to pull the now required higher-weight 13+ coach express trains from London to Bristol and onwards to the West Country, at a higher-speed timetable average than the "Castle".
With the class to be originally named after notable cathedrals, in light of an invitation to feature in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's (B&O) centenary celebrations, the GWR decided to make them more notable by naming the class after British Kings.
The first, No. 6000 King George V, appeared in 1927. After six months of operations, it was shipped to North America for the Centenary celebrations of the B&O, where its sleek appearance and smooth performance impressed all who witnessed it. The application of pressurised oil lubrication showed its advantages over the largely grease-lubricated American Locomotives, and was even incorporated into a later design for the B&O in 1928. King George V was presented with a brass bell to mark the occasion.
At the time of being out-shipped from the workshops at Swindon, to fully provide Pole's requested tractive effort target, the "Kings" has enlarged cylinders to 16 1⁄4-inch (412.8 mm) bore, resulting in a tractive effort as out-shopped of 40,300 lbf (179.3 kN). To accommodate this enlarged inner-cylinder combination, the result was the distinctive design of the leading bogie, with outside bearings on the fore wheel and inside bearings on the rear wheel. However, operational experience showed that clearance of the cylinders was problematic, resulting in the replacement of the outer pair on each locomotive's first major overhaul, which resulted in a reduction of tractive effort to 39,700 lbf (176.6 kN).
They were engines to be reckoned with, powering the GWR's crack expresses like the Cornish Riviera Limited up until the end of regular steam hauled express services on the Western Region of British Railways. However, although the GWR claimed that the class was built in response to longer and heavier trains, it was several years after its introduction before the platforms at the GWR's major stations were lengthened to accommodate these trains.
Due to their size and weight, the class was restricted to the London-Taunton-Plymouth (via both Bristol and Westbury) and London-Birmingham-Wolverhampton (via Bicester) main lines, and even then, only after bridge strengthening had taken place, due to the engines' large boilers giving them a high axle weight of 22.5 long tons (22.9 t). The "Kings" were unable to serve Cornwall, due to the Royal Albert Bridge being too weak for their weight, and so when they were hauling the Cornish Riviera Limited, they had to be swapped for a 'Castle' or 'Hall' at Devonport. Swindon-born and trained William Stanier based his LMS Princess Royal Class design on the King Class, but with an enlarged boiler and firebox necessitating a 4-6-2 wheel arrangement.
In 1947 experiments had been made with a four-row high-degree superheater in No. 6022 King Edward III, owing to a decline in the availability of high-calorific South Wales steam coal, on which the GWR had always relied for its good locomotive performance. During the 1948 locomotive exchanges, King Henry VI had performed disappointingly using Yorkshire coal, despite demonstrating the 4-6-0 type's unique sure-footedness when climbing out of Kings Cross, where pacific types were apt to slip alarmingly. After this, four-row superheaters were fitted to the class, and modifications were also made to the draughting arrangement, using No. 6001 King Edward VII as a test-bed. From September 1955 double blast-pipes and chimneys were fitted, initially to No. 6015 King Richard III. Following successful testing the whole of the class was subsequently modified and, as a result, their final years in British Railways ownership saw the very best of their performance, particularly on the steep South Devon Banks at Dainton, Rattery, and Hemerdon.
Accidents and incidents
- On 15 January 1936, a freight train became divided at Shrivenham, Berkshire. Due to errors by the guard of the freight train and a signalman, an express passenger train hauled by No. 6007 King William III ran into the six wagons that had been left behind and derailed. Two people were killed.
- On 4 November 1940, an express passenger train hauled by No. 6028 King George VI was derailed at Norton Fitzwarren, Somerset due to the driver misreading signals. Twenty-seven people were killed and 57 were seriously injured.
|Boiler type||Number 12||Boiler maximum dia.||6 feet 0 inches (1.829 m)|
|Boiler minimum dia.||5 feet 6 1⁄4 inches (1.683 m)||Fire tubes, no. and dia.||171 x 2 1⁄4 inches (57 mm)|
|Flue tubes, no. and dia.||16 x 5 1⁄8 inches (130 mm)||Superheater tubes, no. and dia.||96 × 1 inch (25 mm)|
|Boiler pressure||250 psi (1.72 MPa)||Boiler length||16 feet 0 inches (4.88 m)|
|Area of firegrate||34.3 square feet (3.19 m2)||Heating surfaces, tubes||2,008 square feet (186.5 m2)|
|Heating surfaces, firebox||194 square feet (18.0 m2)||Heating surfaces, superheater||313 square feet (29.1 m2)|
List of King Class locomotives
|Lot no.||GWR numbers||Year|
Of the 31, only 30 were in service simultaneously. The original no. 6007 King William III was written off after an accident near Shrivenham on 15 January 1936, and was condemned on 5 March 1936. A replacement was built which may have incorporated some parts from the damaged locomotive; it took the same number and name, and was added to stock on 24 March 1936.
|No.||Name||Date built||Date Double Chimney||Date withdrawn||First shed||Last shed||Notes|
|6000||King George V||June 1927||December 1956||December 1962||Old Oak Common||Old Oak Common||Shipped to America August 1927 to join in Baltimore & Ohio Centenary celebrations. Presented with bell and cabside medallions. Alfloc water treatment fitted 1954. 1,910,424 miles (3,074,529 km) recorded on withdrawal. Restored by Bulmer's Railway Centre, Hereford. Preserved, National Railway Museum, York Currently at Steam Railway Museum, Swindon.|
|6001||King Edward VII||July 1927||February 1956||September 1962||Old Oak Common||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury|
|6002||King William IV||July 1927||March 1956||September 1962||Plymouth Laira||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury|
|6003||King George IV||July 1927||July 1958||June 1962||Old Oak Common||Cardiff Canton||Involved with incident at Midgham August 1927 when bogie derailed producing redesign of bogie springing on the whole of 'King' class. Scrapped by Swindon Works|
|6004||King George III||July 1927||July 1958||June 1962||Plymouth Laira||Old Oak Common||Scrapped by Swindon Works.|
|6005||King George II||July 1927||July 1956||November 1962||Old Oak Common||Old Oak Common||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped at Cashmore's, Great Bridge.|
|6006||King George I||February 1928||June 1956||February 1962||Plymouth Laira||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped by Swindon Works.|
|6007||King William III||March 1928||-||March 1936||Old Oak Common||Old Oak Common||Severely damaged in Shrivenham collision 15 January 1936 and condemned 5 March 1936.|
|March 1936||September 1956||September 1962||Old Oak Common||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||Replacement built using some parts of the original engine. 'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury|
|6008||King James II||March 1928||December 1958||June 1962||Plymouth Laira||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped by Swindon Works.|
|6009||King Charles II||March 1928||May 1956||September 1962||Old Oak Common||Old Oak Common||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped at Cashmore's, Newport.|
|6010||King Charles I||April 1928||March 1956||June 1962||Plymouth Laira||Cardiff Canton||Scrapped by Swindon Works.|
|6011||King James I||April 1928||March 1956||December 1962||Old Oak Common||Old Oak Common||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. 1,718,295 miles (2,765,328 km) recorded on withdrawal. Scrapped by Swindon Works.|
|6012||King Edward VI||April 1928||February 1958||September 1962||Newton Abbot||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury|
|6013||King Henry VIII||May 1928||June 1956||June 1962||Old Oak Common||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped by Swindon Works|
|6014||King Henry VII||May 1928||September 1957||September 1962||Newton Abbot||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||Fitted with streamlining from March 1935, but all removed by January 1943 except for 'v'-shaped cab. 'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. 1,830,386 miles (2,945,721 km) on withdrawal. Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury|
|6015||King Richard III||June 1928||September 1955||September 1962||Old Oak Common||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury.|
|6016||King Edward V||June 1928||January 1958||September 1962||Plymouth Laira||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury|
|6017||King Edward IV||June 1928||December 1955||July 1962||Old Oak Common||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury|
|6018||King Henry VI||June 1928||March 1958||December 1962||Plymouth Laira||Cardiff Canton||Re-instated to work last King journey under BR from Birmingham via Southall to Swindon. Scrapped by Swindon Works|
|6019||King Henry V||July 1928||April 1957||September 1962||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||Scrapped at Cashmore's, Newport.|
|6020||King Henry IV||May 1930||February 1956||July 1962||Plymouth Laira||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury.|
|6021||King Richard II||June 1930||March 1957||September 1962||Old Oak Common||Old Oak Common||Scrapped at Cashmore's, Newport.|
|6022||King Edward III||June 1930||May 1956||September 1962||Plymouth Laira||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||'Alfloc' water treatment fitted 1954. Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury.|
|6023||King Edward II||June 1930||June 1957||June 1962||Newton Abbot||Old Oak Common||Acquired by Woodham's, Barry in December 1962. One pair of driving wheels deliberately cut to enable shunting within the scrap yard. Sold to Brunel Trust, Bristol Temple Meads and left as the 159th departure from Barry December 1984. After protracted preservation (with new driving wheels having been cast; the only steam locomotive in preservation to have received such treatment), the locomotive was restored and entered traffic with an official launch ceremony at Didcot on 2 April 2011.|
|6024||King Edward I||June 1930||March 1957||June 1962||Plymouth Laira||Cardiff Canton||Acquired by Woodham's, Barry in December 1962. Sold to Quainton Road, Bucks and left as the 36th departure from Barry March 1973. Currently owned by the Royal Scot Locomotive and General Trust, under overhaul at the West Somerset Railway.|
|6025||King Henry III||July 1930||March 1957||December 1962||Old Oak Common||Old Oak Common||Scrapped by Swindon Works.|
|6026||King John||July 1930||March 1958||September 1962||Old Oak Common||Old Oak Common||Scrapped by Swindon Works.|
|6027||King Richard I||July 1930||August 1956||September 1962||Old Oak Common||Wolverhampton, Stafford Road||Scrapped at Cox & Danks, Oldbury.|
|6028||King George VI||July 1930||January 1957||November 1962||Old Oak Common||Cardiff Canton||Originally built as King Henry II, renamed January 1937. 1,663,271 miles (2,676,775 km) at withdrawal. Scrapped at Bird's, Newport. Involved in Norton Fitzwarren rail crash (1940); severely damaged but repaired.|
|6029||King Edward VIII||August 1930||December 1957||July 1962||Old Oak Common||Old Oak Common||Originally built as King Stephen, renamed May 1936. Scrapped at Cashmore's, Newport|
As a result of its previous 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) broad-gauge system, the GWR had the largest loading gauge of all the pre-nationalisation railways in the UK. To allow for maximum power creation and resultant speed, the GWR designed the King class to its maximum mainline loading gauge, specifically a maximum height allowance of 13 feet 5 inches (4.09 m). Consequently, this restricted them as to where they could operate under both GWR and British Railways ownership.
Developments in high-speed rail from the 1970s mean that ballast depths have increased, resulting in a present decrease in UK pan-network loading gauge height. This has recently started to be reversed with the introduction of pan-European loading gauge standards on some mainlines, mainly originating from ports. The present result of these civil engineering changes is that an original height King locomotive would not pass through various points of the modern Network Rail system, designed to a loading gauge height of 13 feet 1 inch (3.99 m).
Two of the three preserved Kings (6000 King George V and 6024 King Edward I) have operated on the main line in preservation. 6023 King Edward II is due to be main line certified in the near future.[when?]
Faced with a choice of either not operating their locomotives on the mainline or modifying to allow them to pass within the current restricted UK loading gauge, private societies choose to reduce the height of their locomotives by 4 inches (102 mm) by: reducing cab and chimney height; modifying some upper pipe work. The National Railway Museum, owners of 6000 King George V, decided to keep this locomotive in its original condition.
|Number||Image||Name||Owner||Current location||Current status|
||On static display. Only original height King|
||Undergoing Mainline Certification|
||Overhaul underway at the West Somerset Railway. Being done to mainline standard.|
The Borough of Swindon commissioned a new coat of arms when it became a unitary authority in 1997. The coat of arms includes an image of 6000 King George V on the shield, recognising the importance of the Swindon works in the development of Swindon. The coat of arms of the old Borough of Swindon (1900–74) included an image of GWR 3031 Class 3029 White Horse.
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- O.S. Nock (25 Sep 1980). Great Western Railway GWR Stars, Castles and Kings: Part 1 & Part 2. David & Charles/London Book Club Associates. ISBN 9780715379776.
- Nock 1980, p. 120
- Nock 1980, pp. 121–2
- Haresnape 1978, p. 42
- Roden 2010, p. 199
- Trevena 1982, pp. 38–39.
- Trevena 1982, pp. 42–43.
- Allcock et al. 1951, pp. 33, 35, 36.
- le Fleming 1960, p. H20.
- le Fleming 1960, p. H21.
- Borough of Swindon, pp. 1,15 (The Arms of Swindon).
- Allcock, N.J.; Davies, F.K.; le Fleming, H.M.; Maskelyne, J.N.; Reed, P.J.T.; Tabor, F.J. (June 1951). White, D.E., ed. The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, part one: Preliminary Survey. Kenilworth: RCTS. ISBN 0-901115-17-7. OCLC 650412984.
- Haresnape, Brian (1978). Collett & Hawksworth Locomotives: A Pictorial History. Shepperton: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0869-8.
- le Fleming, H.M. (November 1960). White, D.E., ed. The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, part eight: Modern Passenger Classes (2nd ed.). RCTS.
- Nock, O.S. (1980). The GWR Stars, Castles and Kings (Omnibus edition). London: Book Club Associates.
- "The Office of Mayor" (PDF). Swindon Borough Council. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
- Roden, Andrew (2010). Great Western Railway - A History. Aurum.
- Trevena, Arthur (1982) . Trains in Trouble: Vol. 1. Redruth: Atlantic Books. ISBN 0-906899-01-X.
- Whitehurst, Brian (1973). Great Western engines, names, numbers, types, classes: 1940 to preservation. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Company. pp. 55, 103, 145. ISBN 0-902888-21-8. OCLC 815661.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to GWR 6000 Class.|
- King Class introduction (Great Western Archive)
- No. 6000 King George V (National Railway Museum)
- No. 6023 King Edward II (Great Western Society)
- No. 6024 King Edward I (6024 Preservation Society)
- Winchester, Clarence, ed. (1 February 1935), "How mighty are the Kings", Railway Wonders of the World, pp. 21–26, contemporary account of the class