Talk:Great Western Railway

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Good article Great Western Railway has been listed as one of the Engineering and technology good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
May 29, 2010 Good article nominee Listed


The Infobox used in this article can be found at {{Infobox GWR}}.

Early locos[edit]

Quote "After 1902 G. J. Churchward developed a distinctive style of locomotive in 4-4-0 ...".

Should that be 4-4-2?

Songwriter 09:46 5 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I had the 4-4-0 "City" class in mind, which (as I understand it) were designed while Dean was still nominally in charge, and built in about 1903. I believe Churchward tried out 4-4-2, bringing over three French "Atlantics", converting Albion to a 4-4-2 as a comparison, and building North Star as a 4-4-2 (though it ended up as a 4-6-0). There may have been other 4-4-2 designs. --rbrwr
Ah! I was forgetting about the City class. I was thinking of North Star in its initial form. Thank you.
Songwriter 13:24 5 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Additional notes[edit]

I have incorporated into this article some notes written for the article History of rail transport in Great Britain. They unbalanced the original article, since the major part of the notes on railways was the GWR!. I have noted on that article that this has been done. It may be, however, that what is written in the new parts does not quite fit with what is said here ... I will leave that to others to make changes where necessary, if they so wish Peter Shearan 10:27, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

Can someone differentiate the line (Great Western Main Line) from the company... ??? Pickle 17:01, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

I really struggle to consider the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway a "heritage" railway. What do others think. --7severn7 08:49, 17 October 2006 (UTC)

Something's not right here...[edit]

...but I don't have the expertise to fix it. This is what I'm referring to:

"On privatisation the "Great Western" name was revived for the train operating company providing passenger services to the West.

Privatization saddened many who had been proud of their railway, however, in a sense, the ghost of the GWR was to return from the grave for a revenge of Shakespearean irony." The inconsistency of spelling (-isation and -ization) needs fixing to begin with, but more to the point surely the second one should be nationalisation given the para then goes on to talk about Harold Macmillan. 03:23, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

I agree - and have fixed it! Someone put a daft pointer to First Great Western in the middle of an unmolested paragraph. I have sectioned into three parts now for clarity, and removed you NPOV tag. Rgds, - Trident13 16:24, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Reference Help[edit]

On the article about Somerset the GWR is mentioned & referenced with [Clark, G. T.] (1839) Guidebook to the Great Western Railway & [Clark, G. T.] (1846) The History and Description of the Great Western Railway. Its currently on FAC at Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Somerset & a reviewer has asked for "publisher and (if available) ISBN" - has anyone got any further info (before ISBNs) or could provide alternative references to support the statements about the GWR??— Rod talk 17:24, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

A map would help[edit]

I came here to see where the GWR ran, only to have my hopes dashed. It was apparently built somewhere in England. Chris the speller (talk) 15:42, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Discussion on format and push for GA status[edit]

Please note that there is an ongoing discussion on this article and articles on the other "Big Four" pre-nationalisation companies here. Contributions to the discussion are welcomed. ColourSarge (talk) 19:07, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

NOTE: The Discussion has been archived here. -- EdJogg (talk) 13:48, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

Towards GA status[edit]

Section to note areas for improvement (perhaps we should have a todo list?)

  • Someone needs to chase-up the UNESCO World Heritage status, as this is now out-of-date.
     Done - cannot see a date set for review on the UNESCO site, and the ref used does not state a date either.
    Removed date from text. EdJogg (talk) 17:34, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
  •  DoneNeed an article or a list to gather the various bridges, tunnels, viaducts and cuttings
    -- then we can remove Sonning Cutting from 'See also'!
    EdJogg (talk) 13:52, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

More Queries[edit]

Passenger Services[edit]

  •  Done "...forced the GWR to provide at least one train each day..."
    • Do we need to mention the extent of the services? Was it one train on 'every line'/'every station'/'every route'? Strictly, the way it reads at present, the company was only expected to provide a single daily train, somewhere on the network...
  •  Done "...slip coaches...the first being detached..."
    • Very economical use of English, but perhaps too economical?
    • Split into two sentences?
    • (However, the similar "rail motor...driving controls..." sentence, later, seems to work.)
  •  Done "[Steam railmotors] had special retractable steps that could be used at small stations with lower platforms than was usual in England; these were referred to as 'halts' by the Great Western."
    • I added 'retractable', as I think that describes how they were special.
    • halts did not necessarily have low platforms
    • 'small' is not strictly needed in relation to the steps, but is in relation to halts
    • was this actually the GWR definition of a halt?
    • I think we have two sentences that have collided and need separating again

Freight services[edit]

  •  Done "The vacuum brake..."
    • Although implied by its omission, should it be highlighted/clarified here that the majority of wagons and trains were "unfitted", and that the services were slow?
  • Not done "station truck"/"pick up truck"
    • Up to this point the term 'wagon' is used
    • I couldn't help thinking of road trucks at this point instead, even though there is no suggestion of this in the text.
  •  Done This whole section is rather sparse when compared to the passenger section, and barely scratches the surface of the topic.
    • Milk traffic was significant
    • South Wales steel traffic was significant into BR days -- did this apply earlier too?
    • Cornish china clay?
    • anything else?
I have expanded this section to expalin the link between traffics and equipment provided, added some information about perishable traffics, and put the pioneering use of the vacuum brake into context. The steel traffic, as far as I can tell, was not particularly significant until after nationalisation when the large steelworks were opened on the welsh coast to give alternative employemnt to coal miners when the valley pits were closing. The station trucks always called that in the railway's documentation, the word truck was also used for passenegr rated vehicles such as cattle trucks and carriage trucks, but the general collective term for wagons was ... wagon! Geof Sheppard (talk) 07:31, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Ancillary services[edit]

  •  Done Section neatly covers the ports and shipping services. Some are also mentioned in the 'Geography' and 'History' sections too. Need to carefully examine whether the multiple references are OK, as the repetition is noticeable.
  •  Done Canals - should mention that they were 'run down' over time? Presumably the company discouraged their use, in favour of rail transport? Did it withhold maintenance expenditure, etc?
I've dealt with the first point, but cannot find any citable references for the latter - what I have come across seems to lack NPOV and facts. Was it just that the railways (and roads) were better at doing the job, or was there some documented policy? Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:07, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
I found this at Kennet and Avon Canal: "The opening of the Great Western Railway in 1841 removed much of the canal's traffic, and in 1852 the railway company took over its running, levying high tolls at every toll point until the canal was hardly used. " There is a page on the K&A website Decline of the canal which might help as a source.
This is on the Somerset Coal Canal page: "The canal went into liquidation in 1893; it closed in 1898 and was finally abandoned in 1904 when it was sold to the Great Western Railway for £2,000,[12] and used as a branch of the Bristol and North Somerset Railway."
The Wilts & Berks Canal also closed through railway competition. I think this one also saw a late upsurge in traffic...carrying building materials for a new railway that followed the same course...until the railway opened -- but I don't thnk the GWR actually became the owner.
EdJogg (talk) 13:16, 29 May 2009 (UTC)


  •  Done "...broad gauge wheels on his standard gauge locomotives..."
    • Were these new, Armstrong-designed locos?
    • Were they designed to be convertible?
    • Was there much difference between the wheels? Presumably they had broad gauge wheel-sets, or axles fitted, not just different wheels (Ok, so I'm being picky here, but that's the purpose of the review!)
    • Sentence has been split -- does the same reference apply to both halves of the original sentence? (may need to copy the 'ref').
  •  Done "...given numbers..."
    • running numbers? individual numbers?
    • Do we need to state what the number was for?
  • "...stylish express locomotives...", "...iconic Castles and Kings..."
    • stylish/iconic == POV?
  • Possible initial sentence?
    "A railway company's locomotive designs not only reflected technological progress, they also had a style characteristic to/of the incumbent chief designer: the Locomotive Superintendent or Chief Mechanical Engineer."
    • I keep having this nagging feeling that the locomotive design section is as much about the CMEs as it is about the loco designs themselves. I don't know whether the above paragraph is just 'stating the obvious' or helps introduce the format of the paragraph. I would hope that it is self-evident to anyone who cares to investigate, but would it be enough to avoid calls for a ref?
    • Is it helpful? needed?
    • NB - Just noticed that the term 'engineer' is used without being explained. It sort-of 'drifts in'! If 'Loco. Superintendent' gave way to 'CME', it is not mentioned here.
  •  Done Final two paragraphs suffering repetition:
    • "...most of the remaining..." twice in second sentence
    • "...many..." used twice in the following sentence
    • "...most of the..." used at start of next paragraph.

All the above points have been addressed satisfactorily by today's edits.
Collett's section still includes consecutive sentences starting "He also...", but I would expect this to be resolved when the new ref is provided. EdJogg (talk) 13:39, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
It was! -- EdJogg (talk) 14:12, 22 June 2009 (UTC)


  •  Done As previously discussed, this section is rather short (as it has no corresponding 'main' page)

EdJogg (talk) EdJogg (talk) 00:21, 12 April 2009 (UTC) (and 14:27/16:37, 10 April 2009 (UTC))

Permanent way[edit]

 Done On looking for a link for bridge rail, I find it mentioned (only briefly, under history) in Rail profile. Broad gauge covers much more than Brunel's track, but barely mentions Brunel's and it is also passed over in Rail tracks: the best description is found in Permanent way.

This section could do with a much better description, picking up all the snippets scattered about these other articles, since the original GW track was so very different to what is used today. Should also re-mention the Gauge Wars (a link may be adequate) and the fact that later track was 'conventional'. NB also that the very title 'Permanent way' effectively introduces some jargon that needs translating.

A photo of the broad gauge track at Didcot would be in order by way of illustration.

EdJogg (talk) 12:57, 14 April 2009 (UTC)

I have been aware of the shortcomings of the broad gauge article for some while now. I would also add to this group of related issues the whole question of the gauge conversions, especially the one for the West of England in 1892. One day I'll find time to do something about this, but not today! Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:28, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Cultural impact[edit]

Your description of The Railway Station cries out for a picture of the painting (because it is a good description, I hasten to add!)...

EdJogg (talk) 12:57, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

My thoughts exactly, but I'm not sure about the copyright status. Geof Sheppard (talk) 07:35, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
I did think about copyright, but I didn't have time to hunt for the painting on-line. It should be old enough to avoid it I would have thought -- but the usual minefield! -- EdJogg (talk) 09:00, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
OK, it dates from 1862, and therefore ought to be well out of copyright now. (Turner's paintings are free for use...) Several sites quote "by kind permission of Royal Holloway College", so that may be where the original resides.
Google image search found several alternative locations: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6] -- the final one is an interesting article from The Guardian about Frith (the painter) and how he included his mistress/model in his paintings. (Wonder if it has been used as a reference yet?)
EdJogg (talk) 19:38, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

UNESCO Research uncovers v. useful reference[edit]

While investigating the UNESCO World Heritage Site proposal, I found a link to the following document.

UNESCO are (have been?) considering what qualities are needed for a railway to be considered a World Heritage Site.

Railways as World Heritage Sites By Anthony Coulls, with contributions from Colin Divall and Robert Lee, 1999

This is a potential goldmine for cites! There is a very good history section at the start. Remember that this is an unusual railway document in that it has global scope and also considers railways from all angles. (At one point it notes that railway interest can be very 'loco-centric', particularly steam locos, and that Britain is an extreme example of the wealth of 'lay' literature (vs scholarly) on all railway subjects, which may skew opinions! Possible cite for 'railfan'?)

Then, after discussing the qualities being examined, it reviews the following as examples of potential World Heritage Sites:

  1. The Moscow Underground
  2. The Semmering Pass, Austria
  3. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, United States of America
  4. The Great Zig Zag, Australia
  5. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, India
  6. The Liverpool & Manchester Railway, United Kingdom
  7. The Great Western Railway, United Kingdom
  8. The Shinkansen, Japan

Therefore this document should be included in the references somehow!

It would be a good idea to recommend this document to the members of the Trains WikiProject for the same reasons. I list it here first because this is when I found it... (Please don't feel you'll offend me by recommending it on my behalf, I may not have time to do it myself.)

EdJogg (talk) 17:56, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Precursor company[edit]

From [7] The Birmingham & Oxford Junction Railway Company was incorporated under the Birmingham & Oxford Junction Railway Act 3rd August of 1846. In 1848, the company was vested in the Great Western Railway Company by virtue of Great Western Railway (Additional Powers) Act of 31st August 1848.

No mention in the article. I'm not clear how this company fits in though some documentation I read discribed the B & O as building the Oxford - Birmingham line and there was some relationship with George Fredrick Muntz. Anyhow, for now I have added a redirect from the B & O J RC. Dogbiscuit (talk) 00:53, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

No Branches[edit]

Is there a reason why, although such details as the colours of paint used are lovingly written up, there is neither list of nor pointer to GWR branch lines (except "to such places as...", which would require considerable effort by the reader to determine what common property the places had and whether other places fell in the category)?--SilasW (talk) 12:25, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

I suspect it's just a case of no-one having got round to it yet! An article such as this encompasses a huge number of subtopics, each of which will themselves cover many sub-pages. Often the biggest problem is working out what the required topics are in the first place, and then what structure the resulting article should take. Feel free to start a suitable section! (But thanks for pointing this out.) EdJogg (talk) 22:09, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
This sounds like a topic for a (very long) list, but in the meantime, there is always Category:Great Western Railway that should help. I'm not sure people could even agree on what constitutes a "GWR branch". Is Chippenham to Trowbridge or Chippenham to Weymouth a branch? It is if you are considering the GW main line but not if you consider the express trains that used it as a through route before the Berks & Hants was connected to the line.Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:57, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Narrow Gauge - Standard Gauge?[edit]

In the section describing the gauge wars 'standard gauge' is referred to as 'narrow gauge'. While standard gauge is narrower than broad gauge and at the time referred to there was only an emerging 'standard' for gauge I think references to 4' 8 1/2" should be changed to standard gauge to avoid confusion with 'true' narrow gauge. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:40, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

I am inclined to agree with you, as I find the continued use of "narrow gauge" distracting also. As the Gauge Act standardised standard gauge in 1846, it is not unreasonable to refer to it as such from that point on. Since this is towards the start of the section, your request can be met fairly easily. The first reference in "The 'gauge war' " section should be retained, however, since that preserves the emphasis that standard gauge is narrower -- the text should be changed to 'narrow (standard) gauge'. This will also assist readers who jump straight in at this point, as I did, since the topic is first covered towards the end of the previous paragraph. (Indded, it might be appropriate to adjust the paragraph break slightly to accommodate the related text, or at least move the fact that requires the reference to standard gauge.)
I will not implement these changes myself, as Geof is very much driving this article towards GA status and it is important to get more than one editor's viewpoint before making such a change.
EdJogg (talk) 20:24, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
GWR documentation is pretty consistent in using "narrow gauge" up until 1892 and then adopted the more general "standard gauge" following the guage conversion. I tend to follow the same style as I often write for an audience that is familiar with the terms, but I understand your comments in this wider article. You are welcome to make these changes provided it is made clear that the GWR regarded the 4ft 8.5in as "narrow" at the time. Geof Sheppard (talk) 08:16, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
I've part-adjusted it, bearing your comments in mind. We should probably change the other instances over to 'standard' for consistency. Feel free to adjust the text as required.
EdJogg (talk) 14:17, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

I have changed other refs to standard gauge and incorporated above change (I hope) to current text. I think my edits overlapped with the above, no intention of overwriting information. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:22, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

I think you have 'lost' some content, but I'll check and amend over the weekend (no time now), unless Geof (sorry!!) gets there first...
EdJogg (talk) 16:53, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
Finally made time to read it -- all looks OK. Geof effectively did the final corrections for me.
EdJogg (talk) 17:39, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Railway Accidents[edit]

I see there is no mention of the Sonning cutting railway accident or the later Shipton-on-Cherwell accident. Is this deliberate? I have just added the list of railway accidents which refer to these two tragedies. Peterlewis (talk) 15:54, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

If you think these are notable in the context of this article, then please add some brief details in the respective part of the history, or you could add a completly new section on "Notable accidents". Geof Sheppard (talk) 08:19, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for writing the new section. I've slimmed it down so that it is more in keeping with the rest of the article. Readers who want more detail can follow the links to the relevant accident pages. Geof Sheppard (talk) 08:36, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

I have restored the deleted text because such accidents cannot be buried, and I think need emphasis becasue of their national importance both for railway regulation and basic engineering at the time, a message which resounds today after recent accidents. To retain balance in these articles, they need both items on the progress of the companies as well as the many setbacks. Otherwise browsers will get a biased view. This lies at the heart of Wikipedia policy. Peterlewis (talk) 09:08, 9 December 2008 (UTC) PS I also notice that the disastrous atmopsheric railway adevnture receives scant mentioin in the article: just one reference and no mention of the large financial losses incurred by Brunel. Peterlewis (talk) 09:13, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Can I try and support both of you here?
These accidents are obviously highly significant as they both led directly to a change in legislation. To understand the significance requires sufficient explanation of the context. However, the article as a whole now exceeds the MOS length recommendations, and needs to be summarised where possible. I think Geof's summary is quite adequate for the purpose (I presume the other detail is already present in the related crash articles). There is also the potential for creating a Railway accidents on the Great Western Railway series of articles, maybe? (hence providing a 'main' link for the section).
The final paragraph is also significant, but not specifically to the GWR. This text highlights the potential for an article describiing the evolution of rail safety as a result of crash investigations (so it would be, effectively, a WP version of Red for Danger!) and I would encourage Peter to follow this path of interest. It would be a very useful addition to WP.
EdJogg (talk) 10:16, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for your comments. I can see what you are driving at, but wonder why other parts of the article can also not be shortened. It currently reads like a good news article, and shies away from the harsh realities of the history of the GWR. Articles should surely be balanced in approach, giving the good and the bad news. Peterlewis (talk) 12:51, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Like EdJogg I have been a bit worried about the length of the article and the idea of putting the accidents into a separate article also crossed my mind, as we have done with the cultural aspects and list of constituent companies. That would allow for a more rounded article covering issues such as the two Norton Fiztwarren crashes. I am also thinking of moving creating History and Locomotive articles for the same reasons.
The atmospheric is out of context here as it concerns the South Devon Railway rather than the GWR. Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:13, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

Separate coaching stock page?[edit]

This is more by way of a 'FYI' than a query.

Pages already exist for Coaches of the London and North Eastern Railway and Coaches of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and Withdrawn British Rail Stock anticipates similar pages for the GWR and SR. When a page is started for GWR coaching stock, this would be a good page title to start with... (even if it is later decided to rename them as Great Western Railway coaching stock or similar).

EdJogg (talk) 23:16, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Problem in locomotives section[edit]

"...the next phase of motive power design was the responsibility of William Dean, who went on to design some stylish express locomotives. He was succeeded by his assistant, William Dean, who developed..."

Huh? How many William Deans were there?

Note that the same problem is also present at Locomotives of the Great Western Railway.

EdJogg (talk) 12:26, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Sorted in this article, problem remains in t'other... -- EdJogg (talk) 13:58, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

Geography (again) - "switchback"[edit]

The recent adjustment describing the gradient profile is a vast improvement. There is, however, a small problem with the use of the word 'switchback'. In UK parlance it is referring to an up-and-down route as of a roller-coaster, whereas in US parlance a 'switchback' is a hairpin bend! A quick look did not reveal an easy link to resolve this, and an alternative word does not spring to mind ('hilly' is a bit vague, while 'saw-tooth' is a bit OTT). -- EdJogg (talk) 13:22, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

 Done -- Since resolved, thank you. EdJogg (talk) 17:16, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Great Western Railway Shrewsbury Car 1 November 10th 1927 MENU[edit]

I have come across a menu from this train dating 1927. I would like to send the scans of this menu to someone that can include it on these pages. Email me at and I will send the scans over for inclusion.

This menu also holds signatures on the front page and if anyone would like to check them out let me know.

I would love to find out who signed the menu way back in 1927.

Thank you Kevin —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mckayk777 (talkcontribs) 06:50, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Kevin, you can upload the scan, or better still upload it at Wikipedia Commons so that it can be used in all Wiki projects where it is relevant. Leave a message here when you have done so so that interested people can take a look. Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:50, 26 October 2009 (UTC)

"Brunel's Billiard Table"[edit]

Somehow, this phrase needs to be worked into the article (the capitalisation is optional). It was removed today as it had an old 'fact' tag and no reference, but I noted the inline comment: "there's no doubting it's a fact, but choosing which of the hundreds of references to use is problematic!" This looks like my style (sorry!!)

A quick Google just now produced over 3000 ghits. Just as a check, a Google search for "brunel's billiard table" (ie the same search in double quotes) produced 204,000 ghits (the opposite of what I was expecting.

Possible references:

  • the Great Western Archive -- probably already used as a ref (certainly is elsewhere in WP), annoyingly doesn't mention reason for name
  • This Is Bristol -- suggests reason for name was because of all the obstacles it had to cross! (Not heard that one before.)
  • Brunel 200 Legacy -- the phrase spawned a performing arts project with the same name!! (this one DOES give the expected 'flatness' reason) -- they have also appeared at the NRM! [8]

So you see, I think my comment stands. Have a look at the Google results. "Everyone" knows that the Eastern section of the line was known as Brunel's Billiard Table on account of its lack of gradients. But which of these references counts as sufficiently reliable to be used here?? Because "everyone" uses the phrase, how many of these sites are obtaining the phrase from primary sources, and how many from 'popular usage'?

Once again I have to decline the opportunity of providing a reference! Aargh! -- EdJogg (talk) 00:10, 21 November 2009 (UTC)

The billiard table had two steep gradients, of course: Box Tunnel at 1 in 100, and approaching Wootton Bassett, also 1 in 100. There was a sisgnal box on the latter called Wootton Bassett Incline. Brunel originally intended to operate these by stationary engine and rope haulage, but locomotive capabilities had improved by the time the line was closer to opening. Afterbrunel (talk) 17:40, 4 July 2013 (UTC)


Like most railway companies, the GWR operated a number of ships, yet nothing is said about them in the article. Mjroots (talk) 15:32, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

The shipping services are mentioned but not the individual ships. I'll see if I can find enough for a list of them as a separate article, but probably not till after Christmas! Geof Sheppard (talk) 14:21, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
I've added a table to the article. All ships are redlinks so if anyone wants to create a few I'll not stop them. Mjroots (talk) 20:05, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
I've split this out to a new page - Great Western Railway ships - and expanded the list somewhat! Geof Sheppard (talk) 14:13, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
It still needs a proper section in the article really. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 19:34, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Great Western Railway/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 18:42, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

I've taken an initial look at it and its pretty good, I'll go through the manual of style issues in more detail later.

GA review – see WP:WIAGA for criteria



  1. Is it well written?
    A. The prose is clear and concise, and the spelling and grammar are correct:
    B. It complies with the manual of style guidelines for lead sections, layout, words to watch, fiction, and list incorporation:
    {{subst:#if:Apart from the lead, which could do with some minor improvements its pretty good. The lead seems OK now, maybe I was wrong.|Apart from the lead, which could do with some minor improvements its pretty good. The lead seems OK now, maybe I was wrong.|}}
  2. Is it verifiable with no original research?
    A. It contains a list of all references (sources of information), presented in accordance with the layout style guideline:
    {{subst:#if:I think some more sources would be good, especially in the 'gauge war' and 'named expresses' sections - these are marked with 'citation needed'. a couple more would be nice in the 'named expresses' section . Now fine.|I think some more sources would be good, especially in the 'gauge war' and 'named expresses' sections - these are marked with 'citation needed'. a couple more would be nice in the 'named expresses' section . Now fine.|}}
    B. All in-line citations are from reliable sources, including those for direct quotations, statistics, published opinion, counter-intuitive or controversial statements that are challenged or likely to be challenged, and contentious material relating to living persons—science-based articles should follow the scientific citation guidelines:
    {{subst:#if:Some of the sources are missing page references so those should be added too if possible, I can give some examples if necessary.|Some of the sources are missing page references so those should be added too if possible, I can give some examples if necessary.|}}
    C. It contains no original research:
    D. It contains no copyright violations nor plagiarism: [[File:|16px|alt=|link=]]
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. It addresses the main aspects of the topic:
    {{subst:#if:Some more content on the ships and branch lines is probably worthwhile. Now fine.|Some more content on the ships and branch lines is probably worthwhile. Now fine.|}}
    B. It stays focused on the topic without going into unnecessary detail (see summary style):
  4. Is it neutral?
    It represents viewpoints fairly and without editorial bias, giving due weight to each:
  5. Is it stable?
    It does not change significantly from day to day because of an ongoing edit war or content dispute:
  6. Is it illustrated, if possible, by images?
    A. Images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content:
    {{subst:#if:A couple of images are missing their authorships.|A couple of images are missing their authorships.|}}
    B. Images are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions:
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:

The image: File:Sonning2.jpg is public domain as its copyright has expired rather than for the current reason.  Done -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 21:29, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

The images: File:GWR_4038_on_Cornish_Riviera_Express.jpg and File:GWR_bus_AF84_on_Helston_service.jpg need their authorship correcting.  Done Geof Sheppard (talk) 12:53, 21 May 2010 (UTC)

The image: File:Railway bridge Maidenhead.jpeg could do with a better tag for its status, but its a minor issue. I'm wrong, this looks OK actually. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 21:22, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

I need a chance to go through the manual of style criteria in more detail and it needs a few more sources so I'm putting it on hold for now. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 19:16, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Now passed. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 17:21, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

No branches again[edit]

For me that GW branch lines are ignored is a fatal reason against this being a Good Article. That some lines were not 100% GW is not a valid reason for their omission.--SilasW (talk) 21:18, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

Good catch, yeah some content on these should be included in the article. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 21:19, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
The article is already very long - much of the effort of getting it to this stage has been about creating subsidiary articles that explore the various aspects in more detail. How much can be added about branch lines to get the right balance between being too superficial or without overloading it? The Wiki definition of a branch line is a secondary railway line which branches off a more important through route, usually a main line. A rough check on the map suggests that there are in excess of 100 such lines operated by the GWR; even if the count is restricted to terminal lines it is in the region of 50. Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:02, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
I copied the text into a text editor (excluding the reference) and the readable prose length of the article is approximately 50k characters, which is fairly long but it doesn't need to be divided just yet (per WP:SIZERULE) another paragraph on the branch lines seems worthwhile to be honest, and I think its needed to get the broad coverage for GA. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 17:14, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
I've replaced the original sentence about branches with a whole paragraph. Does that help? If anyone has more notable examples than the ones given, please replace them. Geof Sheppard (talk) 07:27, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I'll check tomorrow, and I'll also take another look at the sourcing, it seems you've been busy :). -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 07:42, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

This looks fine. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 12:02, 29 May 2010 (UTC)


Comment - not that I would necessarily fail this for GA, but from the little I have read about this railway line, it was considered a major engineering achievement at the time, but there is no sense of this in the article. I might have some more to say about this later when I've had time to check back on my references. Gatoclass (talk) 17:01, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Agreed. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 17:14, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to respond to this. The article is about the Great Western Railway (company) as a whole rather than just the Great Western Main Line between Paddington and Bristol. For the latter there were undoubtedly major engineering feats and these are briefly covered in the 'Engineering Features' section -- each feature being sufficiently important to command its own article. The GWR is a vast subject and it would be a fairly safe bet that there are more books published about it than any other UK railway company. The problem is keeping the detail down to a manageable size. As this is a top-level article, how much more detail could be added to describe the 'major engineering achievement' as you understand it? -- EdJogg (talk) 22:49, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
I'm certainly not going to fail this for this (which is why I said 'agreed'), but this is a good point too. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 06:56, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

References missing full details[edit]

I've been through the references and the following references are missing their full details and just seem to give a book with no further details: 1, 2, 4, 5, 13, 19, 20, 23, 25, 31, 32, 33, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 46, 47, 48, 49, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 66, 68, 69, 70, 72, 74, 75, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 85, 89 and 93. If you guys want a second opinion on whether I'm being reasonable to challenge this feel free - as it is a lot of work to fix this. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 13:29, 22 May 2010 (UTC)

I've done a complete review of the references, and I think that all the ones that need page numbers now have them. Several are cited as the whole work where the majority of the text is relevant, for example the Brixham Branch is referenced to Potts' The Brixham Branch. MacDermot's huge tomes have been left at chapter level as the two editions have very different pagination due to the way the illustrations are laid out and the page size being altered.
Unfortunately the list of reference numbers above no longer matches the article, but if there are ones that I have missed, please make a note of them here and I will look at them (but probably after the holiday weekend!) Geof Sheppard (talk) 07:45, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
References 1, 2, 98, 99 and 104 should probably be tightened up, a whole book reference doesn't seem necessary for the station opening dates and track milage. But its a very solid improvement - this is the only remaining issue. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 11:59, 29 May 2010 (UTC)
 Done All done now! Geof Sheppard (talk) 12:54, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
What about references 1 and 2? -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 17:17, 2 June 2010 (UTC) I'm not reading correctly today :o. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 17:20, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

Citations needed[edit]

For clarity the two additional citations are for the speed of the Cheltenham Spa Express and the existence of at least the Torbay Express if not the Bristolian, as it isn't clear that it didn't start at Bristol (though I'll pass the article without the latter sourced). -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 14:07, 22 May 2010 (UTC)

 Done Not my usual interest - neither area nor era - but I've finally found a GWR publication that sets out the speed of the train. That's the most difficult citation resolved, the rest should be plain sailing now! Geof Sheppard (talk) 07:29, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
I'm happy with that. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 11:58, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Lost discussion of "Not a good article"[edit]

I guess something is fouled up on my crackling old computer for I cannot now find the latest comments about the quality of the article, in particular those concerning the absence of mention of branch lines. (Heaven forfend that I should suspect an intentional hiding.) "Find" found some 16 instances of "branch" in the Article, of which eleven were in the references and sources list. Despite the latest edit of the article it is not a Good Article even if for no other reason than that Branch Lines are not dealt with in an encyclopedic manner, or indeed in any systematic manner.--SilasW (talk) 10:25, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Your section was removed here [9]. I make no comment on the reason or motivation for the removal. DuncanHill (talk) 12:08, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
The discussion in the GA Review ceased after I replaced the original sentence with a whole paragraph. I am still of the opinon that an encyclopic study of Graet Western branches would need to be in its own seperate article. Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:03, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
The heavens spake and said "'Tis enough". Sorry, that's not how WP works. Until GWR branches are accessible from the main article in some way, for example by being in it, or by links in it to (as the previous editor suggested) "an encyclopic study of Graet Western branches [in] its own seperate article" or to individual articles, or by a comprehensive list of links to them, to enable the reader to get to the branches, the main article is not a good article.--SilasW (talk) 14:26, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
They are in the main article, and I didn't just delete your comment I moved it to the GA discussion page, which is displayed in the section above this one. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 21:38, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
What are in the main article? Certainly nothing comprehensive about the branches or a lead to an all-including article. Who has mentioned deletion? Not I. If there is allowed to be a discussion sub-page about matters which rightly, as I see it, belong in this Talk Page itself (which is annotated above as being "... for discussing improvements to the Great Western Railway article") then why not have further level discussion pages about (discussion pages {about discussion pages [about d....] ..}..)? Whether or not we love the GWR: No Branches = Not a Good Article.--SilasW (talk) 10:48, 12 June 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The comments you made on this talk page are included on this talk page in the section just above this one - the reason I moved the comment was so that it was also on the GA review page.

If you want any more content on the subject I suggest you create an article at Great Western Railway branch lines which we can link to from this page. For clarity the paragraph that is in the article is below: -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 11:13, 12 June 2010 (UTC)

A network of cross-country routes linked these main lines, and there were also many and varied branch lines. Some were short, such as the 3.5-mile (5.6 km) Clevedon branch line;[32] others were much longer such as the 23-mile (37 km) Minehead Branch.[33] A few were promoted and built by the GWR to counter competition from other companies, such as the Reading to Basingstoke Line to keep the London and South Western Railway away from Newbury.[16] However, many were built by local companies that then sold their railway to their larger neighbour; examples include the Launceston[34] and Brixham[35] branches. Further variety came from the traffic carried: holidaymakers (St Ives);.[36] royalty (Windsor);[37] or just goods traffic (Carbis Wharf).[38]

An encyclopedia is to give a reader information, not for the reader to be told "No info here, find it yourself and put it here." The quoted paragraph mentions precious few of the GWR branches. No matter who laid and sold them what were GWR branches can admit little cavilling and should there be valid doubt about a particular line then it should have a linked mention. The wide use of such vague general terms as "network of cross-country routes", "many and varied", seriously detracts from the article's worth. --SilasW (talk) 12:08, 12 June 2010 (UTC)
Per WP:SUMMARY this article should only contain a summary of the information on the topic as its a general article. If you want to add a little more content here by all means, but the bulk of it should be in its own article. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 12:56, 12 June 2010 (UTC)
I would maintain that its branches were an intrinsic part of the GWR and therefore for the GWR article not to have them (as I said before) either within it or by link renders it not A Good Article. I have no intention of consulting a pile of little books, whose standards of scholarship are often questionable, and some of which seem to come from cottage publishers who do not comply with the legal obligation to deposit a copy at the British Library.--SilasW (talk) 14:48, 12 June 2010 (UTC)

Legacy section?[edit]

Is a legacy section appropriate? I can think of a few things from GWR that made it into later railways:

Post grouping GWR morphing into BR western region.

Continuing to make some GWR classes post nationalisation.

Swindon works 'going it alone' with diesel hydraulic locos.

Chocolate & cream coaching stock in BR.

Post privatisation (First) Great Western franchise. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:55, 5 July 2010 (UTC)

That's a good idea actually as long as its kept brief. Do you have some text to suggest? -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 18:42, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
There's some similar things already in the cultural impact section. Perhaps we need a summary of details in Western Region of British Railways? Beware of the danger of original research - there's lots of myths and legends about "Western Region independance", but Wiki expects citations and a neutral point of view! Geof Sheppard (talk) 12:50, 9 July 2010 (UTC)
That sounds good to me :). -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 12:57, 10 July 2010 (UTC)

Diagrams instead of numbers ?[edit]

Broad gauge - blue (top)
Mixed gauge - green (middle)
Standard gauge - orange (bottom)

I find it hard to get an overview when looking at the table showing the mileages in the gauge war section. Hence I drew a chart which gives a quick impression of the mileages operated by GWR. Would it be an idea either to add the chart to the gauge war section or to replace the table entirely?

Why not do the same in the Passenger services section? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Marcel.kummer (talkcontribs) 12:50, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Could well be good. -- Eraserhead1 <talk> 20:27, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
It would make more sense as a series of columns - that way it would show the total mileage and the different gauges as a proportion. To be really clever, the "mixed" gauge could be a "mixed" colour of the other two. Say, red - orange - yellow.
If you make this change, could you preserve the original number values either in footnotes or on the image file page.Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:02, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Agree that columns - a bar-chart - would be better, to avoid the impression of a smoothly-changing mileage over the period 1851-56. Alternatively, can we get the x-scale at one-year intervals, instead of five years, which would make the changes more realistic? Also, can we start at 1837 instead of 1851? All the required data is available in appendices to MacDermot's weighty works. --Redrose64 (talk) 20:03, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Recommend that the figures are retained in the article, in a collapsed table. -- EdJogg (talk) 20:23, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for your feedback. I will change the diagram into a bar chart with the numbers included. If you kindly provide me with the data from MacDermot I will also add the years before 1851.
Sorry, I ought to be more careful with my terminology. I meant a "stacked column" so that the total height of the column represents the total mileage; the individual colours within it represent the length of each gauge. Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:10, 21 September 2010 (UTC)
I agree that a stacked column chart gives an even better overview of the matter. What do you think of the updated chart? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Marcel.kummer (talkcontribs) 09:16, 29 September 2010 (UTC)
Anyone wanting to see the detail will click on the image, but it might be helpful to include the basic key in the caption as it is quite clear what the trend is even with the default image size. (Not thinking of anything more complicated than:
... Key: Blue – Broad Gauge, Orange – Standard Gauge, Green – Mixed
although it will be clearer if stacked vertically, which is perfectly permissible!)
-- EdJogg (talk) 09:30, 29 September 2010 (UTC)
Good point. I added an extra key to the image caption.

 Done -- —Preceding unsigned comment added by Marcel.kummer (talkcontribs) 11:30, 18 October 2010

Featured Article Nomination?[edit]

Hello. I am still quite new to Wikipedia, but I know a brilliant and enlightening article when I see one. I've never been a train person before, but via the 'random article' button I came across this article and I was hooked. I read it all through, and when I was done I read it again trying to take in all the awesomeness of an article about a system of railway lines from the Victorian ages. I then went on to other links, and one thing led to the other and before you know it I had dozens of tabs dedicated to small industrial towns and their connection to the railway system of a country I have nothing to do with (I'm Israeli)!

This is the epitome of all railway related articles - I don't know where you people got the material, the energy and the will to write about the Great Western Railway, but you made what would usually make a simpleton like me snooze to death into an action thrilled story of prosperity and austerity, of happyness and tragedy, of history and nature and war and enconomics all rolled into an article about a system of railway lines in Western Britain from before my Grandfather was born.

Which leads me to the conclusion that, as an extremely well written, informative and encyclopedic article that has obviously taken back-breaking years to perfect - this should be nominated to Featured Article status. If people will be half as enthusiastic as I was at the reading of this article, we will have a generation of children with posters of railway lines on their walls, and I find it sad that I could only find out about the existence of this article through the random article button.

Thank you for all your hard work, and please tell me if you agree that this should be nominated or not. Goodguy1066 (talk) 15:24, 6 November 2010 (UTC)

Personally I don't think it qualifies for FA status. Yes, it's made GA status, but I believe that it fails FA on several counts, particularly criteria 1b and 1c: the GWR was Great Britain's longest-lived railway (formed 1835, amalgamated with others at the end of 1947, total 112 years) and has an awful lot written about it, which we should really go through thoroughly in order to meet 1c in particular. MacDermot's History of the Great Western Railway, published in two volumes in 1927 and 1931, runs to 1556 pages - and that only covers the story up to 1 January 1922. MacDermot has been used as a ref source in several places: but if you look at these references, you'll see that there are no page numbers (only chapter numbers), whereas other books are credited with page numbers: the article therefore fails FA criterion 2c. --Redrose64 (talk) 21:11, 7 November 2010 (UTC)
I don't know anything about such things as Featured Article status, but anyway, Goodguy1066, I'm sure I speak for all who have contributed to this article when I say thank you for your kind words and it is very pleasing when a reader bothers to say nice things about a WP article. Alarics (talk) 23:08, 7 November 2010 (UTC)
It took about 18 months of hard work - and some lenghty discussions about scope and content - to get it from a few disconnected statements to the GA award. This work is quite recent so I am happy for it to mature for another year or two to see what other editors make of it. Then perhaps it will be time (and I'll have the energy) to push it a little bit further. But, Goodguy1066, comments like yours make all the hard work seem worthwhile! Geof Sheppard (talk) 14:49, 8 November 2010 (UTC)

Why the quarter inch?[edit]

The article states about Brunel: "Firstly, he chose to use a broad gauge of about 7 feet..."

At what stage did it become 7ft "? And why?

A very fast skim of the article didn't reveal an obvious answer, and the article on Broad Gauge doesn't mention the reason either.

EdJogg (talk) 13:47, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

The same reason that Stephenson added half an inch: clearance. The wheels were 4'8" (Stephenson) or 7'0" (Brunel) apart, measured over the outside faces of the flanges; and the rails were set at the same distances, measured inside their faces. But it was found that on any sort of curve, the flanges would bind against the inside face of the rail, so the rails were moved apart a bit. The wheels could have been moved closer together, but I suppose that moving the rails was the cheaper option - the rails were nailed or screwed down (with or without chairs), but in some cases the wheels were mounted on shouldered axles which couldn't easily be shortened.
It's interesting to note that 7'0" is exactly 4'8" x 1.5 - Brunel's 50% rule in action. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:31, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Is this accurate? For sure Brunel added the quarter inch because of binding problems, but I don't think the flange-to-flange dimension was exactly 7 feet, nor 4ft 8in for the standard gauge. It's true that there were some tramways at 4ft 8 (but also several other gauges around that) but the inference that Stephenson started at 4ft 8 and then widened it is a bit of a leap, isn't it? I don't think any rails were ever "nailed" down were they? Afterbrunel (talk) 20:48, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, see edge rail, and related types of track. -- EdJogg (talk) 21:19, 24 June 2011 (UTC)
Nothing there involving the word "nail".Afterbrunel (talk) 17:00, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
In permanent way terminology, nails used to fasten rails or chairs to the sleepers are usually known as "spikes". --Redrose64 (talk) 19:16, 3 July 2012 (UTC)
"Brunel's 50% rule"? Is this described anywhere on WP?
I already knew (more-or-less) that the 'extra' was likely to be due to clearance (although I would have probably stated the wrong reason) but I couldn't see it mentioned in the obvious places (such as here or the Broad Gauge page, although I didn't check Rail Gauge). It all started with a slightly crass remark I was going to make at The Discussion going on elsewhere, about how no self-respecting engineer would design a track gauge of 381mm -- then I remembered the similarly 'odd' gauge that Brunel ended up with, and wondered whether the 'oddness' was covered here. I didn't realise that Stephenson had done the same! -- EdJogg (talk) 23:33, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Brunel's 50% rule - it seems when designing any sort of engineering project, that he'd calculate the required dimensions according to the accepted methods - and then increase the primary dimensions by 50% to provide a high margin of safety. Thus, a building might have foundations 50% deeper than required; an iron bridge might have girders 50% thicker; and a railway would similarly be 50% wider. I think there's something in one of Adrian Vaughan's books on Brunel. I need to visit the library again... --Redrose64 (talk) 23:51, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
The gauge is something that broad gauge scholars have debated for years now without ever resolving the issue. Redrose64's suggetsion is the most widely accepted version; I think the least likley that I've heard is something to do with metric measurements and pi! But another possible proposal is that it might actuly be a accident of engineering. Some contemporary documents have come to light from sources such as the Board of Trade (who were responsible for inspecting railways before passenegrs were allowed to use them). Some refer to "seven foot gauge" and others to "seven feet and a half inch" centre-to-centre. Why someone would want to measure the gauge in this way is beyond me as the gauge between the faces of the rails would then be dependent on their width, which would mean that an odd quarter inch either way isn't beyond the realms of possibility.
Measuring the few remaining pieces of original track shows that the 84.25 inch measurement probably varied by about 0.75 inches (tending to overgauge rather than under), but the intervening hundred-odd years means that such measurements are probably unreliable. Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:05, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
FYI, the only contemporary source I encountered { 1846] says "... shall be constructed on the Gauge of Seven Feet". -DePiep (talk) 14:00, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
  • MacDermot, E.T. (1927). History of the Great Western Railway, vol. I: 1833-1863. Paddington: Great Western Railway. p. 49. In laying the rails an extra quarter of an inch was allowed on the straight, making the gauge 7 ft. 0¼ in. strictly speaking, but it was always referred to as 7 feet. 
That's in a footnote that I recently found. --Redrose64 (talk) 14:44, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Fact and source are fit for the article I'd say. Clarifies the names for the gauge. (He disobeyed HM Victoria's law! What a guy). -DePiep (talk) 15:34, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

I don't think we'll ever really answer this question. I've seen Board of Trade documents where the guage was measured at the centre of the rail. How did that work?

From what I've seen, ¼ inch is within the tolerance of the wheels in use, so it is somewhat immaterial anyway; a track "gauged" at 7ft 0¼in might well be 7ft 0in at one joint and 7ft 0½in at another. Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:10, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Agree. But we do not have to decide on this, nor state the actual measure. We only should describe the norm in the article. The 7ft ​14in value is iconic, but has a serious background in plain 7ft 0in (sourced). -DePiep (talk) 16:03, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

Steam dome[edit]

I note that the section on locomotives mentions the copper band around the chimneys (One of the nickname for a GWR (or BR Western Region) employee is "copper bander") The article doesnt mention the distinctive brass steam dome which was fitted to even the humblest pannier tank. They were used by some other early companies, but the GWR used them until the BR standard designs. (talk) 09:33, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

GWR safety-valve cover
GWR loco with black-capped chimney, green dome cover and brass safety-valve cover
It wasn't a copper band around the chimney: it was a copper cap. Not all locos had these; many had a cast-iron chimney cap instead, and these were always painted. The copper caps were also painted over at various times, in order to save the labour expense of polishing them. The GWR stopped using polished brass dome covers when Churchward was in charge (possibly circa 1905); they were then painted over, and new dome covers were steel, which was cheaper than brass. You are probably thinking of the safety-valve cover (see right) - these were normally brass, and began to be painted over at the same time as the chimney caps and domes, for the same reason. When labour was less expensive, the paint was often scraped off the safety-valve cover, sometimes the chimney cap as well, but not the dome covers. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:52, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Gauge war - track profile[edit]

I read recently that a significant factor of the Gauge Wars was that, aside from the change in rolling stock, the track itself needed to be changed; it wasn't simply a matter of moving the tracks closer, since Wide Gauge track was a different profile to that of Standard Gauge track. I've come to this article to find out more about this, but there's no mention of it in the article. Could someone elaborate on this for me, and perhaps add something to the Gauge Wars section? Obscurasky (talk) 18:50, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

Most of what is "generally known" about broad gauge is wrong. The main thing is that the Gauge Commission, when the standard gauge was adopted nationally, happened very early in the history of the GWR and so the broad gauge was doomed even during Brunel's time. This was also before the major period of expansion in smaller lines, and thus track mileage. It remained for a few major lines, but it didn't spread any further. At the height of the broad gauge era, the GWR was already mostly standard gauge (by route miles). By halfway through the broad gauge era, it was increasingly reduced to a few lines where its speed advantages could be valuable, but new small lines couldn't justify its extra building cost. As is widely known, the broad gauge finally disappeared over one weekend in 1892, but by this time it was already only a vestige of its previous glory.
There's also the question of how broad gauge permanent way was built. The baulk road is well known, but again this was the original technique and had fallen from use by the final changeover. One reason that the last lines could be converted so quickly is that they had already switched to use construction that was much closer to standard gauge construction techniques, thus easier to change. Andy Dingley (talk) 20:18, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Many thanks for this. Just to clarify though; when you say 'standard gauge construction techniques' you're also refering to the rail profile (Brunel Bridge Rail Vs Stephenson's bullhead)? And, if the rolling stock was capable of running on either, why did short Branchlines go to the expense of changing the track? When the Severn & Wye was converted to Standard Gauge, the Bridge Rail was lifted and some of it turned into fencing (some of which survives to this day). Why didn't they simply continue to use that track?Obscurasky (talk) 21:23, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
There are two reasons.
Many broad-gauge routes weren't converted directly from broad-gauge to standard, but went through an intermediate stage of having three rails for each track, known as "mixed gauge". The rail on one side was common to both gauges; the rail on the other side was for broad-gauge trains; and the middle rail was for standard gauge trains. With the end of broad-gauge traffic, the outer rail which had not been the common rail was therefore redundant, and could be removed.
The GWR was very economic when it came to old equipment. Worn-down rail from running lines was reused in sidings; worn-out rail from sidings was reused, where possible, in some other manner - fence posts was just one use. Rails used as fence posts were not necessarily removed at the time of gauge conversion, but could have been removed earlier as worn out - alternatively they may have lasted some years after. --Redrose64 (talk) 21:39, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
There was little mixed gauge track in use (at least for running lines rather than depots) after about 1860 and almost none after 1872, when the South Wales converted (the south west had a more homogenous broad gauge than the many small lines in Wales, so there was less need for mixing of gauges). Between these two dates it was mostly restricted to bridges, tunnels etc. where two original railway companies both had running rights and there was no space to do otherwise. A little mixed gauge track re-appeared around 1890, when it started to be used in preparation for the final conversion and some locations were thought too complex to convert quickly during the final switching. Mostly though, the 1892 switch was done by moving a single rail (first laid on extra-long transverse sleepers) from one alignment to another.
Little heavy bridge rail was withdrawn for fencepost duty before 1892, as worn rails went for use in sidings. The rail that was sold off before this date was Barlow rail, a form of bridge rail that turned out to be unworkable for rail use (it settled and went out of gauge). There was so much Barlow rail going spare in the 1860s that they built Clevedon Pier out of it. After 1892 though, the heavy bridge rail went the same way (I have a length as a signpost outside my front gate). Some steel bridge rail (very late production, rather than wrought iron) was sold and re-used for dockyards (probably just for cranes and slipway railways) as it was lower than bullhead rail in chairs, so caused less obstruction. Andy Dingley (talk) 23:18, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks to both. Very interesting reading.Obscurasky (talk) 20:35, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

7ft 0 1/4 and all that[edit]

Can we do something about the half and quarter when we are specifying the track gauge? It displaces the lines spacing and looks clunky. There a perfectly good quarter and half symbol available. It's in that function effort with the curly brackets and I would edit that (i.e. not the GWR page) if I knew how.


Are we sure that the massive box of track gauges of the world is right here; I fully realise that track gauge was a key issue for the GWR above all railways, but a map of the world, colour coded to show me what the gauge in Indonesia nowadays is, etc etc etc??? That's fine in the article on track gauge but it detracts from the authority of this article. Afterbrunel (talk) 19:42, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Permanent way[edit]

The section on permanent way is pretty thin, isn't it? The GWR and BR(W) had distinctive patterns of permanent way right up to about 1960 -- the other railways had combined to agree a standard, ERA, in the 1920s.

Documenting this could be difficult, but I'll have a go at this. Can anyone help me? Afterbrunel (talk) 17:43, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Er, that would be "No" then. Afterbrunel (talk) 19:19, 4 November 2013 (UTC)


Time keeping was a most important part of all the railways, but there is nothing here about the punctuality or time-keeping methods of the GWR. I'd be very interested if a knowledgeable person were to add this information; I'd like to compare it with today's railways! FreeFlow99 (talk) 09:22, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Branches; and the emphasis on puff-puffs[edit]

Six quick points:

1) Many comments in this talk section bemoan the absence of a comprehensive description of branch lines. The main article is already far too long, and the solution seems to be to provide an article for example "GWR branches in Devon". NB this is illustrative only, maybe it should be GWR branches West of Newton Abbot or south of Whiteball Tunnel or whatever. And correspondingly elsewhere.

2) I want to provide some detail about the Bathampton to Bradford Jn line, which was opened by the GWR. Is there an article for it anywhere? I can't find one. Not Wilts Somerset and Weymouth; it was nothing to do with them.

3) Incidentally the Wilts Somerset and Weymouth article is looking a bit anaemic.

4) I see that in the topographical section, the gradients are mentioned at Wootton Bassett and Box tunnel, and those who are more interested in locomotives immediately launch into a mention of steam engine driving wheel diameters. The gradients at Wootton Bassett and in Box Tunnel are both 1 in 100 climbing eastward, aren't they? To give equal prominence to the intervening gentle fall is a bit out of proportion.

5) Is it not utterly breathtaking that the "Geography" section, all 467 words of it, does not once mention Wales or any location in Wales? (Even though the shipping link with Ireland is mentioned.)

6) Many people will try to come to this article by typing "GWR" into the Wikipedia search field. If you do, you go to a disambiguation page with seven entries; one of them is "Great Western Railway (or Great Western Railroad), the name of several different railway operators". If you click on that you go to another disambiguation page with 16 entries on it. After you search past Great Western Railway (Tasmania) and Great Western Railway (Saskatchewan), both hugely important and iconic networks, you finally come to "our" GWR. If no-one from Tasmania or Saskatchewan objects, I'll edit the disambiguation page to give a slightly quicker route to come to this article.

Afterbrunel (talk) 19:16, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

The 7-foot "Brunel" railway track gauge(s)[edit]

There are talks about the Brunel/GWR track gauge(s) at WT:UK railroads and {RailGauge} talk. -DePiep (talk) 18:51, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

Redrose64 (and Edgepedia?) I have used your MacDermot (1927) quote in the article [10]. I did not see the MacDermot source myself. Check me. -DePiep (talk) 20:02, 3 June 2014 (UTC)


The Great Western Study Group has been 'Beechinged' - and should there be a link to this podcast [11]? Jackiespeel (talk) 16:49, 6 February 2015 (UTC)

Maarten Tromp[edit]

The name of the Flying Dutchman Racehorse came from an old story, and has nothing to do with Maarten Tromp, Trom was never the Flying Dutchman, that story is way older. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:38, 31 December 2015

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Great Western Railway/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

A poor article for an encyclopedia in that, despite the fanaticism typical of railway articles detailing colours and all manner of petty features (see here), no editor has seen fit to mention specific Branches and Docks. It has been estimated that the now largely forgotten Brentford Dock handled ten per cent of national trade during its hundred years yet it is neither mentioned nor worth an article.--SilasW (talk) 20:44, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Last edited at 20:44, 25 September 2009 (UTC). Substituted at 16:41, 29 April 2016 (UTC)


Please note theat the author of Ringing Grooves of Change (reference 55) is Andrew Swift, not Adrian Swift. I also recommend this for further reading. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:40, 10 June 2016 (UTC)

Fixed Geof Sheppard (talk) 13:09, 17 June 2016 (UTC)

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