GWR 6959 Class

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Great Western Railway 6959 Class
Ruscombe Siding geograph-2482312-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg
6960 Raveningham Hall (now preserved) with a Didcot slow train, April 1957.
Type and origin
Power typeSteam
BuilderGWR/BR Swindon Works
Build date1944–1950
Total produced71 (6959 Peatling Hall-7929 Wyke Hall)
 • 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 (530 ft; 160 m) normal,
7 chains (460 ft; 140 m) slow
Length63 ft 0+14 in (19.21 m) over buffers
Width8 ft 11+12 in (2.731 m)
Height13 ft 2 in (4.013 m)
Axle load19 long tons 5 cwt (43,100 lb or 19.6 t) (21.6 short tons)
Adhesive weight57 long tons 10 cwt (128,800 lb or 58.4 t) (64.4 short tons)
Loco weight75 long tons 16 cwt (169,800 lb or 77 t) (84.9 short tons) full
Tender weight47 long tons 6 cwt (106,000 lb or 48.1 t) (53.0 short tons) full
Fuel typeCoal
Fuel capacity6 long tons 0 cwt (13,400 lb or 6.1 t) (5.6 short tons)
Water cap4,000 imp gal (18,000 l; 4,800 US gal)
 • Firegrate area
27.07 sq ft (2.515 m2)
Boiler pressure225 psi (1.55 MPa)
Heating surface:
 • Tubes and flues
1,582.60 sq ft (147.028 m2)
 • Firebox154.90 sq ft (14.391 m2)
 • Heating area295 sq ft (27.4 m2)
CylindersTwo, outside
Cylinder size18.5 in × 30 in (470 mm × 762 mm)
Valve gearStephenson, inside
Valve typePiston valves
Performance figures
Tractive effort27,275 lbf (121.33 kN)
OperatorsGreat Western Railway
British Railways
Power classGWR: D,
Numbers6959–6999, 7900-7929
Axle load classGWR: Red
WithdrawnJanuary 1963 – December 1965
DispositionSix preserved, one donor remainder scrapped

The Great Western Railway (GWR) 6959 Class or Modified Hall Class is a class of 4-6-0 steam locomotive. They were a development by Frederick Hawksworth of Charles Collett's earlier Hall Class named after English and Welsh country houses.


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 many designs and production methods had not kept pace with developments elsewhere. This was especially true with the useful GWR 4900 Class, the design of which largely originated in the 1900s and had not fundamentally changed since the mid-1920s.[1] Charles Collett was replaced as the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Railway by F.W. Hawksworth in 1941 who immediately created a modified version of the design, known as the 'Modified Hall Class'.


The Modified Halls marked the most radical change to Swindon Works' practice since Churchward's time as chief mechanical engineer and was very far from a simple modification of the Hall design. 'Although in outward appearance it looked almost the same, nearly everything about it was new.'[2] Hawksworth's use of plate frames throughout the design was a break with Churchward's practice for 2 cylinder locomotives. The cylinders were cast separately from the smokebox saddle and bolted to the frames on each side. A stiffening brace was inserted between the frames and extended to form the smokebox saddle. The exhaust pipes leading from the cylinders to the blastpipe were incorporated into this assembly.

Additionally, Churchward's bar framed bogie which had been adapted for the original Hall prototype in 1924 was replaced by a plate frame structure with individual springing. There were changes, too, above the running board. Hawksworth decided that the declining quality of coal reaching Great Western depots necessitated a higher degree of superheating. A larger three-row superheater and header regulator were fitted into Swindon No.1 boiler. Improvements were subsequently made to the draughting on some engines, while others were fitted with hopper ashpans.


The first batch of twelve Modified Halls was delivered from Swindon works between March and September 1944. They carried plain black livery were unnamed and numbered 6959-6970 (immediately following the Hall Class sequence). They were all subsequently named between 1946 and 1948.[citation needed]

A further batch of ten locomotives appeared during October and November 1947 and others were on order when the nationalisation of Britain's railways took place in 1948. British Railways continued construction of this class until November 1950, by which time there were seventy-one examples.[3]

Some modified Halls were equipped with a flat, high-sided Hawksworth tenders. Once he became Chief Mechanical Engineer, many earlier locomotives also received these tenders so a Hawksworth tender does not necessarily mean a Hawksworth locomotive.


The Modified Hall class 'ran freely, steamed well and were popular with both footplate and maintenance staff. After the unambitious designs of Collett's final years, they restored Swindon's reputation.'[4] Fourteen survived until the end of steam on the former GWR in 1965.

List of locomotives[edit]


Six Modified Halls have been preserved on various heritage railways. A seventh survivor no 7927 Willington Hall is being used as a donor for the Grange and County re-creation projects.

Out of the six engines to be preserved, five engines have run in preservation. The only engine yet to run is 6984 Owsden Hall. Half of the class have also seen main line operation: Nos. 6960 Raveningham Hall, 6990 Witherslack Hall and 6998 Burton Agnes Hall. 6960 and 6998 saw main use in the 1980s, especially in 1985 when the locos were regularly used during the GW150 Celebrations.[citation needed] 6998 was a popular mainline performer in the late 1980s, and also in the 1990s, until 1996 when she was withdrawn from operation awaiting an overhaul. Four of the class are currently[when?] operational but since 6998 was withdrawn no Modified Halls have been seen running on the main line.

Number Name Image Built Withdrawn Tender fitted Status Livery Current Location Notes
6960 Raveningham Hall GWR Class 6959 No 6990 Raveningham Hall Minehead.jpg March 1944 June 1964 Collett Operational GWR Lined Green, GW Lettering Severn Valley Railway Owned by Jeremy Hosking, its boiler ticket expires in 2022. Transferred from its usual West Somerset Railway due to axle weight limit, later re-allocated to Severn Valley Railway.
6984 Owsden Hall A81A1050 Owsden Hall (21867645105).jpg February 1948 December 1965 Collett Undergoing Restoration BR Lined Green, Early Emblem (On Completion)[5] Buckinghamshire Railway Centre Undergoing restoration from ex Barry scrapyard condition. Transferred from the Swindon and Cricklade Railway in 2019. Its tender is currently in use behind 6989 until the completion of its own.[6]
6989 Wightwick Hall GWR 6959 Class 6989 Wightwick Hall.jpg March 1948 June 1964 Collett Operational BR Lined Green, Early Emblem Buckinghamshire Railway Centre Entered service in March 2019 following restoration from ex Barry scrapyard condition, borrowing 6984's tender.[7]
6990 Witherslack Hall 6990 Witherslack Hall departs Quorn.jpg April 1948 December 1965 Hawksworth Operational BR Lined Green, Early Emblem Great Central Railway Recently returned to traffic from a major overhaul which included the pairing with an authentic Hawksworth tender which was formerly paired with 4930 Hagley Hall. Boiler ticket expires in 2026.
6998 Burton Agnes Hall 6998 Burton Agnes Hall at Wimbledon.jpg January 1949 December 1965 Hawksworth Static Display GWR Lined Green, GW Lettering Didcot Railway Centre Awaiting Overhaul. Famed for working the GWS Vintage trains which used vintage GWR carriages.
7903 Foremarke Hall 7903 Foremarke Hall at Toddington, GWSR.jpg March 1949 June 1964 Hawksworth Operational BR Lined Green, Late Crest Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway Recently returned to traffic following completion of its recent overhaul. Boiler ticket expires in 2026.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Herring, Peter (2004). Classic British Steam Locomotives. Wigston: Abbeydale Press. p. 158. ISBN 1-86147-138-6.
  2. ^ Nock, Oswald Stevens (1984). British Locomotives of the Twentieth Century. 2: 1930-1960. London: Book Club Associates. p. 94.
  3. ^ 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. H33-4.
  4. ^ Herring 2004, p. 159
  5. ^ Duggan, Jamie (4 February 2018). "Recent Overhaul Progress on Steam Loco Modified Hall No. 6984 "Owsden Hall"". Rail Advent.
  6. ^ Devereux, Nigel (3 January 2020). "Twin 4-6-0s for Quainton Road as 'Owsden' moves from Swindon". The Railway Magazine. Mortons Media Group. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  7. ^ "BR(WR) Modified Hall Class 4-6-0 No. 6989 Wightwick Hall". BRC Virtual stockbook. Quainton Railway Society. 10 May 2019.
  • Whitehurst, Brian (1973). Great Western Engines, Names, Numbers, Types and Classes (1940 to Preservation). Oxford, UK: Oxford Publishing Company. pp. 63–64, 69, 103, 131. ISBN 978-0-9028-8821-0. OCLC 815661.

External links[edit]