South Devon Railway Comet class

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South Devon Railway Comet Class
Type and origin
Power type Steam
Designer Daniel Gooch
Builder various
Configuration 4-4-0ST
Gauge 7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm)
Leading dia. 3 ft 6 in (1.07 m)
Driver dia. 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Wheelbase 17 ft 9 in (5.41 m)
Cylinder size 17 in × 24 in (430 mm × 610 mm)
Operators South Devon Railway
Class Comet

The Comet class were 12 4-4-0 saddle tank broad gauge locomotives operated on the South Devon Railway and associated railways. They were designed for passenger trains on this steep and sharply curved line but were also used on goods trains when required.

They were ordered by Evans and Geach who were contracted to operate the railway's locomotives. They were designed by Daniel Gooch and based on his Bogie class locomotives built for the Great Western Railway who had previously operated the South Devon Railway.

On 1 February 1876 the South Devon Railway was amalgamated with the Great Western Railway, the locomotives were given numbers by their new owners but continued to carry their names too.

Six similar locomotives were built for the Vale of Neath Railway by Robert Stephenson and Company in 1851. Some of these could be found working on the South Devon lines after the 1876 amalgamation.


  • Aurora (1852 – 1878) GWR no. 2099
Built by Longridge and Company. Named after the goddess Aurora.
  • Comet (1851 – 1884) GWR no. 2096
Built by Longridge and Company. On 1 August 1853, it was working an express train when it collided with Ixion, which had passed a danger signal at Rattery, Devon.
The name Comet represents a heavenly body, and was reused on a Leopard class locomotive built in 1875.
  • Damon (1852 – 1876) GWR no. 2101
Built by the Haigh Foundry, it was named after Damon, a Greek mythological character.
  • Falcon (1852 – 1878) GWR no. 2102
Built by the Haigh Foundry. On 13 September 1866, Falcon was working the mail train when it failed to stop at the signal at Plympton so it collided with Brutus, which ran away to Plymouth. It was named after a bird, the falcon.
  • Ixion (1853 – 1878) GWR no. 2105
Built by Stothert and Slaughter. On 1 August 1853, Ixion was working a goods train from Exeter to Plymouth. At Rattery the driver ignored a danger signal and collided with a mail train while shunting. Ixion was badly damaged and was out of use for many months, despite having seen less than five months' work at the time. Named after Ixion from Greek mythology.
  • Lance (1851 – 1873)
Built by Longridge and Company. Lance was written off after it was involved in a head-on collision with another train near Menheniot railway station on the Cornwall Railway on 2 December 1873. At the time it was providing front-end assistance to a heavy goods train. The name Lance means a projectile, and was reused on a Leopard class locomotive built in 1875.
  • Meteor (1851 – 1881) GWR no. 2098
Built by Longridge and Company, Meteor was named after a heavenly body, a meteor.
  • Orion (1853 – 1878) GWR no. 2103
Built by the Haigh Foundry. Named after Orion, a Greek Titan.
  • Osiris (1853 – 1873)
Built by Stothert and Slaughter. On 31 October 1853, it was approaching Totnes railway station with a passenger train when it was hit by a goods train which had been unable to stop after descending the incline from Rattery. After withdrawal, Osiris was taken to Portreath where it provided steam for the stationary engine that powered the cable railway which raised wagons from the harbour up to the West Cornwall Railway line.
Named after Osiris, the Egyptian god of death, the name was reused on a Leopard class 4-4-0ST.
  • Ostrich (1852 – 1877) GWR no. 2104
Built by Fairbairn and Sons, Ostrich was named after a large African bird, the ostrich.
  • Priam (1851 – 1876) GWR no. 2100
Built by the Haigh Foundry, it was named after Priam, the king of Troy.
  • Rocket (1851 – 1877) GWR no. 2097
Built by Longridge and Company, it was named after a projectile, a rocket.