GWR 4900 Class

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GWR 4900 Class
Exeter St David's Locomotive Depot geograph-2476776-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
5976 Ashwicke Hall at Exeter St David's MPD in 1953
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
DesignerCharles Collett
BuilderGWR Swindon Works
Build date1928–1943
Total produced258
RebuilderGWR Swindon Works
Rebuild date1924
Number rebuilt1 (4900 Saint Martin)
 • Whyte4-6-0
 • UIC2'Ch2
Gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Leading dia.3 ft 0 in (0.914 m)
Driver dia.6 ft 0 in (1.829 m)
Minimum curve8 chains (528 ft; 161 m) normal,
7 chains (462 ft; 141 m) slow
Length63 ft 0+14 in (19.21 m) over buffers
Width8 ft 11+14 in (2.724 m)
Height13 ft 3+14 in (4.045 m)
Axle load18 long tons 19 cwt (42,400 lb or 19.3 t)
(21.2 short tons)
Adhesive weight57 long tons 0 cwt (127,700 lb or 57.9 t)
(63.8 short tons)
Loco weight75 long tons 0 cwt (168,000 lb or 76.2 t)
(84.0 short tons)
Tender weight46 long tons 14 cwt (104,600 lb or 47.4 t)
(52.3 short tons)
Fuel typeCoal
Water cap3,500 imp gal (16,000 l; 4,200 US gal) -
4,000 imp gal (18,000 l; 4,800 US gal)
 • Firegrate area
27.07 square feet (2.515 m2)
BoilerGWR Standard No. 1
Boiler pressure225 lbf/in2 (1,550 kPa; 15.8 kgf/cm2)
Heating surface:
 • Tubes and flues
1,686.60 square feet (156.690 m2)
 • Firebox154.78 square feet (14.380 m2)
 • Heating area262.62 square feet (24.398 m2)
CylindersTwo, outside
Cylinder size18.5 in × 30 in (470 mm × 762 mm)
Performance figures
Tractive effort27,275 lbf (121,330 N)
OperatorsGWR » BR
Power classGWR: D,
Numbers4900–4999, 5900–5999, 6900–6958
Official nameHall
Axle load classGWR: Red
Withdrawn1941 (4911 Bowden Hall, was destroyed beyond repair during a bombing raid and then cut up), 1959–1965 (remainder)
Preserved4920, 4930, 4936, 4942, 4953, 4965, 4979, 5900, 5952, 5967, 5972
DispositionTen preserved or extant (two operational as of March 2021)
one rebuilt as Saint class
one destroyed by enemy action
remainder scrapped

The Great Western Railway 4900 Class or Hall Class is a class of 4-6-0 mixed traffic steam locomotives designed by Charles Collett for the Great Western Railway. A total of 259 were built at Swindon Works, 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.


By the end of 1923 the Great Western Railway (GWR) was well served with express passenger locomotives of the Saint and Star classes and had recently introduced the Castle Class. However the mixed traffic 2-6-0 locomotives of the 4300 Class were beginning to struggle with the increasing loads. George Jackson Churchward had recognised this with the introduction of the 4700 class 2-8-0 with 5 ft 8 in (1.727 m) driving wheels, intended for express goods and relief passenger trains. However, Charles Collett preferred the idea of a Saint Class with smaller wheels to undertake these duties as this would provide a leading bogie. He therefore rebuilt number 2925 Saint Martin with 6 ft (1.829 m) driving wheels.[1]


The prototype of the new class was rebuilt in 1924 and the cylinders were realigned in relation to the driving axle and a more modern 'Castle'-type cab was fitted. Saint Martin emerged from Swindon Works in 1924 and embarked on three years of trials. During this period Collett introduced other modifications such a changing the pitch of the taper boiler and adding outside steam pipes.


After extensive trials during 1925–1927, Collett was satisfied with the performance of his prototype, subject to minor amendments and placed an order for eighty more with Swindon works (Lot 254) in 1928. The prototype was renumbered 4900 in December 1928 and the new locomotives were numbered 4901-80 and appeared at regular intervals until February 1930.[2] They were named after English and Welsh country houses with 'Hall' in their titles and so became known as the 'Hall Class'.[3]

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'. The original locomotives were built with Churchward 3,500 imp gal (16,000 l; 4,200 US gal) tenders but after 4958 Collett's larger 4,000 imp gal (18,000 l; 4,800 US gal) types became standard although a few later locomotives were fitted with smaller tenders if these were available as they entered service.[4]

The first fourteen examples were despatched to the arduous proving grounds of the Cornish Main Line. They were so successful here and elsewhere on the GWR system that by the time the first production batch had been completed a further twenty were on order (Lot 268, 4981-99 and 5900). Further orders followed throughout the 1930s and early 1940s. By 1935, 150 were in service and the 259th and last Hall, No. 6958 Oxburgh Hall, was delivered in 1943. Thereafter further deliveries were of the '6959 Modified Hall' class.

Oil firing[edit]

Eleven Hall class locomotives were converted to oil-firing in the period 1946–1950. While in this condition they were renumbered into the 3900 series. When the oil-firing was removed, they reverted to their old numbers.[5]


As indicated by their continuing production, the Hall class proved to be very successful in a variety of different roles, although barred from several cross-country and branch lines because of their red weight classification. According to Peter Herring, 'they were the first true mixed traffic locomotives, and as such precursors of the Stanier 'Black Five', Thompson B1 and BR Standard 5MT 4-6-0.'[6] (However, while they were forerunners of these highly successful and numerous 4-6-0 types, there were several successful 2-6-0 and 4-6-0 ‘mixed traffic’ types on the GWR and other British railways before them,[7] - not least the GWR 4300 Class they were designed to replace.[8])

Modified Hall Class[edit]

Although the GWR had been at the forefront of British locomotive development between 1900 and 1930, the 1930s saw a degree of complacency at Swindon reflected in the fact that the design had largely originated in the 1900s and had not fundamentally changed since the mid 1920s.[9] Collett was replaced by Frederick Hawksworth in 1941 who created a modified version of the design, known as the Modified Hall Class. These continued to be produced by British Railways until 1950, by which time there were a further seventy-one locomotives.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 30 April 1941, 4911 Bowden Hall took a direct hit during a bombing raid on the Keyham area of Plymouth and was later broken up.[10] 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.[11] 4911 was one of two GWR locomotives damaged beyond repair in Britain during World War II, the other was GWR 1854 Class No. 1729. 4936 Kinlet Hall, ran into a bomb crater in that area and was severely damaged, but was repaired.[12]
  • On 13 February 1961, 6949 Haberfield Hall was in collision with a freight train that was being shunted at Baschurch, due to a signalman's error. Three people were killed and two were injured.[13]
  • On 25 August 1962, a passenger train stopped at Torquay, due to the failure of the locomotive hauling it. 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.[14]


All but one of the original Collett Halls survived until nationalisation in 1948, the exception being 4911 Bowden Hall. 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. Further withdrawals of the production series took place during the 1960s and the class was extinct by 1965.


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 with all being rescued from Barry Island Scrapyard, seven of which have run in preservation. Of the engines which haven't yet operated in preservation, 4942 Maindy Hall has been "regressed" back to a GWR Saint Class, 4979 Wootton Hall is undergoing restoration at the Ribble Steam Railway with work currently focusing on the engine's tender, 5952 Cogan Hall is awaiting restoration at the Llangollen Railway with a small number of parts being used in the construction of 6880 Betton Grange and 5967 Bickmarsh Hall is undergoing restoration at the Northampton & Lamport Railway.

Of the remaining seven Halls which have run in preservation, six have been operated on the main line: 4930 Hagley Hall, 4936 Kinlet Hall, 4953 Pitchford Hall, 4965 Rood Ashton Hall, 5900 Hinderton Hall and 5972 Olton Hall. 5972 Olton Hall has gained fame as the locomotive used in the Harry Potter film series.

In January 2020 no Halls were operational on the main line. 4936 Kinlet Hall is undergoing a Network Rail standard overhaul at Tyseley Locomotive Works.[citation needed]

Number Name Image Built Withdrawn Owner Base Status Livery Mainline Certified Notes
4920 Dumbleton Hall GWR 4920 Dumbleton Hall at Buckfastleigh.jpg March 1929 December 1965 Private Owner South Devon Railway Stored GWR Lined Green, GW Lettering No operational 1992-1999[15] Sold from SDR to new owner in December 2020.[16]
4930 Hagley Hall 4930 Hagley Hall.JPG May 1929 December 1963 Severn Valley Railway Severn Valley Railway Undergoing overhaul No
4936 Kinlet Hall Kinlet Hall (8130668488).jpg June 1929 January 1964 West Somerset Railway Tyseley Locomotive Works. Undergoing overhaul BR Lined Green, Late Crest (on completion) No (to be certified)
4942 Maindy Hall GWR Hall class 4-6-0 No 4942 Maindy Hall at Didcot.jpg July 1929 December 1963 Didcot Railway Centre Didcot Railway Centre Operational GWR Lined Green, Great Western Lettering No Rebuilt into GWR 2900 Class no 2999 Lady of Legend
4953 Pitchford Hall GWR 4900 Class 4953 Pitchford Hall.jpg August 1929 May 1963 Epping Ongar Railway Epping Ongar Railway Operational BR Lined Black, Early Emblem No Returned to traffic in December 2019.
4965 Rood Ashton Hall Rood Ashton Hall Tyseley.jpg November 1930 March 1962 Vintage Trains Tyseley Locomotive Works Awaiting overhaul GWR Lined Green, Great Western Lettering No (to be certified) Used parts from 4983 Albert Hall, and was named Albert Hall on one side when entered service in preservation[17] main line certified 1999-2019
4979 Wootton Hall GWR 4979 Wootton Hall awaiting restoration.JPG February 1930 December 1963 Furness Railway Trust Ribble Steam Railway Undergoing restoration No
5900 Hinderton Hall DSCN2341-5900-hinderton-hall 1200x900.jpg March 1931 December 1963 Didcot Railway Centre Didcot Railway Centre Static display GWR Lined Green, Great Western Lettering No Was used in the 1970s to haul nine vintage ex-GWR carriages on the main line from Didcot.[18]
5952 Cogan Hall 5952 Cogan Hall.JPG December 1935 June 1964 Betton Grange Society Tyseley Locomotive Works Stored No Tender and other minor parts used on 6880 Betton Grange. Restoration to commence following the completion of 6880.
5967 Bickmarsh Hall 5967 Bickmarsh Hall at NLR.jpg March 1937 June 1964 Northampton & Lamport Railway Northampton & Lamport Railway Under restoration No
5972 Olton Hall GWR 'Hall' 5972 'Olton Hall' at Doncaster Works.JPG April 1937 December 1963 West Coast Railways Warner Brothers Studio Tours Static display Hogwarts Railway's Crimson, Hogwarts Railway's Crest No Used in the Harry Potter films, renamed Hogwarts Castle for filming

See also[edit]


  1. ^ le Fleming, H.M. (November 1960) [1953]. White, D.E. (ed.). The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, part eight: Modern Passenger Classes (2nd ed.). Kenilworth: RCTS. pp. H29.
  2. ^ le Fleming, H.M. (November 1960) [1953]. White, D.E. (ed.). The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, part eight: Modern Passenger Classes (2nd ed.). Kenilworth: RCTS. p. H29.
  3. ^ "Hall of Fame". Railway Magazine. No. 861. January 1973. pp. 4–9.
  4. ^ le Fleming, H.M. (November 1960) [1953]. White, D.E. (ed.). The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, part eight: Modern Passenger Classes (2nd ed.). Kenilworth: RCTS. p. H30.
  5. ^ Haresnape, Brian (1978). Collett & Hawksworth locomotives: a pictorial history. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0869-8.
  6. ^ Herring, Peter (2004). Classic British Steam Locomotives. Wigston: Abbeydale Press. p. 118. ISBN 1-86147-138-6.
  7. ^ Casserley, H.C. (1960). The Historic Locomotive Pocket Book. London: Batsford. pp. 217, 222.
  8. ^ Casserley, H.C. (1961). Locomotives of British Railways. London: Spring Books. p. 28.
  9. ^ Herring 2004, p. 158
  10. ^ Riley, RC (1966). Great Western Album. Shepperton: Ian Allan Publishing. p. 90. ISBN 0-7110-0073-5.
  11. ^ Bryan, Tim (1995). The Great Western at War 1939-1945 (1 ed.). Yeovil: Patrick Stephens. p. 94. ISBN 1-85260-479-4. OCLC 60238810.
  12. ^ Stewart-David, David; Wood, Peter (July 2014). "The role of railways in the Second World War". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 160 no. 1, 360. Horncastle: Mortons Media. p. 50. ISSN 0033-8923.
  13. ^ Earnshaw, Alan (1991). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 7. Penryn: Atlantic Books. p. 39. ISBN 0-906899-50-8.
  14. ^ Earnshaw, Alan (1993). Trains in Trouble: Vol. 8. Penryn: Atlantic Books. pp. Front cover, 3. ISBN 0-906899-52-4.
  15. ^ "Dumbleton Hall fades into retirement". The Railway Magazine. No. 1185. January 2000. p. 49.
  16. ^ Holden, Michael (21 December 2020). "New Year, New Home for steam locomotive 4920 Dumbleton Hall". Rail Advent.
  17. ^ "Albert Hall is really Rood Ashton Hall". The Railway Magazine. No. 1163. March 1998. p. 9.
  18. ^ Banks, Steve (6 October 1979). "Pure Great Western". Flickr.
  • 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 and Classes (1940 to Preservation). Oxford, UK: Oxford Publishing Company. pp. 42–44, 53–55, 62–63. 103, 144. ISBN 978-0-9028-8821-0. OCLC 815661.

External links[edit]