top of page
2 cylinder 4-6-0 design

The Churchward Revolution

The concept of the GWR 2-cylinder 4-6-0 emerged in the early 1900s following Locomotive Superintendent, George Jackson Churchward's comparative studies of developments of British, French and U.S.A. locomotive practice. The first signs of this emerged in 1902, when No. 100 was out shopped from Swindon.

100 appeared in February 1902 and had a dramatic impact on railwaymen and enthusiasts alike, for it resembled nothing seen on the G.W.R. before. Its cylinders were 18" diameter with a 30" stroke, with 6½" piston valves, which drove 6' 8½" driving wheels. Unlike later versions of the 4-6-0 concept, the piston valves were nearer the centre line and were operated indirectly. The first boiler had a parallel barrel,with a raised Belpaire firebox.

Being a prototype, it experienced many modifications in its early life. In June 1903 it received a short cone Standard No. 1 boiler. on April 1910, this was replaced with a similar shaped, but superheated version of the Standard No. 1 boiler. Fitted in 1912 with a long cone boiler, it received many of the components added to other G.W.R. locomotives. Withdrawal came in June 1932, when the non standard cylinders needed replacement. 100 was named 'Dean' in June 1902, which was altered to 'William Dean' in November 1902. In December 1912, she was renumbered 2900. 

The dawn of the era

The following year, No. 98 emerged, prototype for the next 50 years of 2-cylinder locomotive 4-6-0 practice on the G.W.R., practice which also had a significant impact on that seen on other British railways.


98, built in March 1903, was the true prototype for the Standard G.W.R. 2-cylinder locomotive. Designed by Churchward, it had a front end markedly different from 100. Its two cylinders were cast as part of an integral unit incorporating piston valves (10" diameter) and half the smoke box saddle, in the American style . Two cylinder castings were bolted together and fixed to the front of the main frames, with a bar frame extension at the front carrying the buffer beam.

At the time of out shopping, 98 was fitted with a short cone boiler and tapered firebox built to Standard No 1 dimensions, pressed to 200 psi. This was replaced by a fully coned No 1 boiler, with a working pressure of 225 psi. and was, thereafter, integrated into the Saint class. In March 1907 she was named 'Vanguard', but in December 1907 was renamed 'Ernest Cunard'. A superheated boiler was fitted in 1911. In December 1912 she was renumbered 2998, in the Saint number block. 2998 was withdrawn from service in June 1933. 

The Albion Atlantics

In December 1903 the first of 20 pre-production locomotives, based on No. 98 emerged from Swindon Works. Their main distinction from No. 98 was the fitting of a boiler pressed to 225 psi.

This was No. 171, named 'Albion' in February 1904 as a foil for the French-built Atlantic, No. 102 'La France', which the G.W.R. purchased in October 1903. Churchward used the two locomotives in comparative tests to ascertain the best qualities of the two different concepts. To make the tests more 'equal' in October 1904, No. 171 was converted to a 4-4-2, running such until July 1907. Nineteen similar locomotives were produced in 1905, 13 as 4-4-2s and the rest as 4-6-0s. All the Atlantics were converted to 4-6-0s between April 1912 and January 1913.

No. 175 (later 2975), built in March 1905, and shown in virtually original condition. Named 'Viscount Churchill' in 1907, 'Sir Ernest Palmer' in 1924 and 'Lord Palmer' in 1933. Always a 4-6-0, it received a superheater in 1911 and survived until withdrawal in November 1944. (TM Collection)

No. 190 (later 2990). Built as an Atlantic in September 1905. Named 'Waverley' in 1906. Converted to 4-6-0 wheel arrangement with curved ends in November 1912, having been fitted with a superheated boiler in 1911. Withdrawn January 1939. (TM Collection)


In 1995 the Great Western Society began the recreation of a member of the Saint class, see further down the page for more details.

The Saints

The 'production' versions appeared in May 1906. Similar in most dimensions to the 'Albions', they differed in having slightly enlarged cylinders. Numbered 2901-10, the first batch were named 'Ladies' and resembled the 'Albions'.


Of these 2901 was noteworthy in that it carried a superheated boiler from construction until 1909, the first to be built by and run on any British railway. 2911-30 appeared in 1907 and were named 'Saints'. The final batch, 2931-55 were named after 'Courts' and were all built with long cone, superheated boilers and cylinders of 18½" x 30", which became the standard for most G.W.R. 2-cylinder locomotives thereafter. The last Saint, 2920 'Saint David' was taken out of service in October 1953.

2917 'Saint Bernard', built August 1907 at Paddington in original condition. Superheated in 1909, 2917 was fitted with a fully coned boiler with top-feed in 1911. Allocated to Newton Abbot in 1921, she was withdrawn from Cardiff Canton in November 1934. (TM Collection).

The Halls

Churchward's 'master plan' included the development of a smaller wheeled, mixed traffic version of the Saint, but this was replaced by the 43xx class 2-6-0s, of which 342 were built. However, by the early 1920s a need for a larger locomotive for mixed traffic duties emerged. Charles Collett, Churchward's successor, responded by rebuilding in 1924, a Saint with 6' 0" driving wheels and more modern cab.


Originally, 4900 ran without outside steam pipes, but in December 1948 given new cylinders with outside steam pipes, as shown in the photograph. The success of this conversion led to the construction of the first of the Hall class in 1928.

'Saint Martin', rebuilt in 1924, being renumbered from 2925 to 4900 in December 1928, shown at West Ealing in the early 1960s. (Great Western Trust)

6947 'Helmingham Hall', built December 1942 on an express passenger working at Paddington in May 1958. Overall, 257 Halls were constructed and continued in service until the end of steam working on the Western Region. (J. Penfold/TM Collection)


5900 'Hinderton Hall', was purchased out of Barry Scrap yard in 1970, by a G.W.S. member and restored to full working order in 1976. Now owned by the Society, 5900 is Didcot's representative of the G.W.R. Hall class. Although she worked on the mainline as a preserved locomotive, she is now on static display awaiting her turn for overhaul.

5900 'Hinderton Hall', as first restored at Didcot, 1976. (Terry McCarthy)

The Granges

In 1936 the Grange class emerged from Swindon and were the fulfillment of Churchward's plans of 1901 for a 4-6-0 with 5' 8" driving wheels.


Ostensibly they were rebuilds of 43xx 2-6-0s with a 4-wheel bogie replacing the 2-wheel pony truck and a Standard No. 1 boiler. The rebuild was not quite straight-forward as new cylinders and a raised running plate was required, but they proved a potent addition to the G.W.R. running fleet, proving very popular with crews. In all 80 Granges were constructed.

6858 'Woolston Grange', Llanrumney, east of Cardiff in April 1964. (Terry McCarthy)

A new Grange, 6880 'Betton Grange' is being constructed in Llangollen, utilising the Standard No. 1 boiler from 7927, whose frames were donated to 1014.

The Manors

Another a hypothetical reconstruction of 43xx 2-6-0s was the Manor class, introduced in 1938. It was designed as a light-weight 4-6-0 to be used as a replacement for many ancient 4-4-0 types on routes where there were weight restrictions preventing use of 'red' route availability locomotives like Halls and Granges.

A new, smaller boiler, Standard No. 14, was developed for the class, but the cylinders were of a similar pattern to those on the Granges, but with liners reducing their diameter to 18". 20 Manors were built in 1938-39, but a further 10 were built new in 1950.

7816, formerly 'Frilsham Manor'. at Severn Tunnel Junction(86E) sheds in August 1965. Despite its filthy condition, the letter 'G.W.R.' were distinguishable on the tender, probably revealed by an enthusiast chipping away the layers paint which covered the letters. (Terry McCarthy)


7808 'Cookham Manor' was purchased out of B.R. service in 1965 by a G.W.S. member. Initially stored at Ashchurch in Gloucestershire, she moved to Didcot in 1971, where she was thoroughly overhauled. In 1974 she returned to mainline operation. Since her boiler certificate expired 7808 has been a static exhibit. Now owned by G.W.S.

7808 'Cookham Manor, shunting stock at Didcot Railway Centre, 1982. (Terry McCarthy)

The Modified Halls

Charles Collett retired in 1941, being replaced as Chief Mechanical Engineer by Frederick Hawksworth. At this time Swindon was busy building goods and mixed traffic locomotives to help with the war effort. Many of these locomotives were Halls, but Hawksworth decided to revamp the design in the light of wartime experience and so in March 1944 the first of the Modified Halls, 6959, later 'Peatling Hall', was out shopped.


Ultimately, 71 Modified Halls were constructed, the last under the auspices of British Railways in november 1950. The principal change was in the frames and cylinders. Churchward's front end did have a weakness, consequently Hawksworth's team substituted the Churchward pattern of frames and cylinders, with full length plate- frames, to which were bolted the two separate cylinder castings.


Although the boiler remained the Standard No. 1, this, too, was modified with the installation of a three-row superheater, so providing a higher degree of superheating than the rather conservative amount instituted by Churchward and retained by Collett. Furthermore, the De-Glenn bogie was replaced by a plate-framed version, similar to one tested by Churchward in the 1900s on 'Albion' No. 184.

7913 'Little Wyrley Hall' in Neath(87A) shed yard, August 1964. The full length frames are clearly seem above the buffer beam, so too is the front of the plate framed bogie. 7913 is shown coupled to a Hawksworth tender, with which Modified Halls after 6974 started their operating lives - later, being interchangeable, these tenders were often exchanged for the older Collett-type. (Terry McCarthy)

6998 'Burton Agnes Hall', was purchased by G.W.S. from B.R. in January 1966, the Society's first 'big' locomotive. Withdrawn from Oxford, 6998 was initially kept by the Society at Totnes, before making an epic, steam ban busting journey to Didcot in 1969. She was given an extensive overhaul soon after in readiness for a short career on the mainline, often hauling the G.W.S. Vintage Train of fond memory. At present she awaits her turn in the queue for overhaul, but remains in static preservation.

6998 'Burton Agnes Hall', on the mainline, near Abergavenny en route to the Severn Valley Railway. 1986. (Terry McCarthy)


The final evolution

All the previous development led to the ultimate 2 cylinder 4-6-0 design - the Hawksworth County class. Introduced in summer 1945, they also heralded a return to lined green locomotives on the G.W.R. following the end of the War in Europe.


1000 as out shopped in August 1945. (TM Collection)

Originally allocated numbers in the 99xx series, the first appeared as 1000, the change to 10xx being made weeks before their manufacuture. No. 1000's appearance caused a considerable stir as despite the presence of many traditional Swindon features, there were also many new or novel ones such as the one-piece splashers, double chimney, flat-sided tender and later, a straight name-plate.


Many others were not so evident, such as driving wheelsets of 6' 3" diameter, a new size for the G.W.R., the boiler pressure of 280 psi and full-width cab and tender. The subsequent, 29 locomotives were fitted with a single chimney. From March 1946 they were given the class name of Counties with the already introduced locomotives being returned for naming, 1000 County of Middlesex's naming occurring in the November of that year. Thus recreating a County fills the final gap in the development timeline.

1000 County of Middlesex at its naming in 1946 (GWR/ Chris Hoskin collection)

County confusion

The County 'conundrum', or the County 'enigma' seems to sum-up opinions about Hawksworth's Counties. They were probably the most controversial of all the G.W.R. 2-cylinder 4-6-0s.

Their early reputation was not helped by enginemen and others drawing parallels between them and an earlier County class (38xx). The latter, designed by Churchward, was introduced in 1904. with batches being built until 1912. It was never considered one of his best products, because, it was a compromise 'forced' upon enginemen, by circumstances beyond their control. It is said the LNWR, joint owner with the GWR of the Hereford - Shrewsbury route, prohibited use of 'Saint' class 4-6-0s due to hammer -blow, so Churchward built this three-quarter version of the 29xx. Ironically, calculations suggest the 38xx had a greater 'hammer-blow' than the Saints.


However, records show they were used widely and successfully over the GWR system mostly on main line and secondary passenger services. In general, they were capable performers, but their short, four-coupled wheel-base and two large cylinders gave them a reputation for rough riding, rendering them unpopular with locomen. All were withdrawn by November 1933, having been replaced by the more adaptable (to the traffic people) Halls.

3832 'County of Wilts', built in June 1904 as No. 3475, passing through Cardiff General on an 'up' goods in 1922. 3832 is shown in later condition (post 1910) with top feed and superheated standard No. 4 boiler. She was withdrawn from service in May 1930. (LCGB Ken Nunn Collection)

THE Hawksworth County
The Hawksworth County was the product of a perceived need consequential of deteriorating working and operating conditions during the Second World War caused to a great extent by poor coal supplies.

Initially, Hawksworth's response was to update the Hall class, producing the Modified Halls that emerged from Swindon in 1944. The critical improvement was increasing the degree of superheating, by incorporating a three-row superheater into the Standard No. 1 boiler. Improvements resulted, but with the end of the war approaching and thoughts beginning to turn to peace time operating conditions, a view developed that an enlarged boiler might improve things further.

The result was the 10xx class, which emerged from Swindon in early summer 1945 with principal dimensions of:

Cylinders: Diameter - 18½" Stroke - 30" 
Piston valves: Diameter - 10" Maximum travel - 7½"
Wheels: Bogie - 3' 0"; Coupled - 6' 3".
Weight: engine - 76 tons 17 cwt. Maximum axle weight - 19 tons 14 cwt - Red route availability.

Many of the above-mentioned dimensions are similar to those of the Modified Hall. The main difference lay in the boiler. classified as a Standard No. 15 boiler and based on that constructed for a batch of 80 Stanier 8F 2-8-0 locomotives built at Swindon between May 1943 and July 1945. These locomotives worked on the GWR system following construction, not being 'returned' to the LMS until October 1947.


While the firebox was of almost identical dimensions, the barrel was longer than the Stanier boiler. In addition to the substitution of the LMS boiler mountings, by GWR versions, Hawksworth, influenced by Bulleid's work on the Southern Railway, also adopted a nickel steel alloy boiler pressed to 280 psi. A 3-row superheater was fitted.
The boiler and cylinders together provided a tractive effort of: 32,580 lbs, greater than a Castle. Its GWR power classification was E - 6MT under the later B.R. system.

8431 Stanier 8F as restored by the Keighly & Worth Valley Railway, 
taking part in the G.W.R. 150 Celebrations at Didcot in May 1985. This locomotive was built at Swindon as part of G.W.R. Lot 351 in March 1944. It was transferred to the LMS in March 1947, but returned to
B.R. Western Region in the 1950s. She was allocated to St. Philip's Marsh (82B) in 1956 and Old Oak Common(81A) in 1961. Withdrawal came in May 1964. Soon after she was sold to Woodham's scrap yard at Barry. (Terry McCarthy)

Another novelty was the fitting to No. 1000, the first of the class, of a double chimney. It has been suggested that this was a late addition to the plans and was based on that of the LMS Rebuilt Royal Scot. No. 1001 which followed and all others built were given a single chimney.

1000 at Paddington on 13 August 1945, its first day in traffic. The gentlemen in the photograph include: wearing a grey suit, wearing and trilby hat was F.W. Hawksworth, Sir James Milne was wearing the bowler hat, while Lord Portal is obscured, btu stood between them. (STEAM GWR Museum. Swindon)

Notwithstanding its being based on the Modified Hall , having a new boiler with a higher pressure, details differences such as the one-piece splashers, wide cab and new-style tender, 1000 and her sisters, were basically a conventional G.W.R. design, the 'final development' of the 'Saints'. Indeed, many at the time (including some within Swindon Works itself) thought it was a missed opportunity to produce for the G.W.R. a locomotive that incorporated many of the latest developments in steam locomotive design, notably that published by Chapelon in France.


That this did not happen could be explained by  Swindon's (not all, e.g. Geoffrey Tew) conservatism and satisfaction with the basic Churchward design concept. However, this overlooks the enormous constraints under which Hawksworth and his design team had to work - restrictions imposed by the war (locomotive policy was controlled by the Mechanical Engineers Committee of the wartime Railway Executive) and minimising costs. As a result the 10xx was a compromise design.

Also exercising the minds of railway men and enthusiasts is why they were built at all? Various suggestions have been made:

  • Improved Modified Hall? - Anticipating post war conditions to use poorer quality coal, but still produce necessary steam.

  • 2-cylinder version of a Castle? - Cheaper capital costs.

  • Saint replacement? - 50 were in service in late 1944, still useful, but getting old.

  • Test-bed for features likely to be incorporated into Hawksworth's mythical Pacific?

  • Hawksworth's ego - produce his own memorable locomotive design?


All might have some substance, but there seems to have been no clear-cut role for them. Added to which, after 30 were constructed and although further Counties were planned, no more were built. Instead Swindon produced more Modified Halls and Castles and the last Saints lingered on until 1953. 


It was evident that the Counties were not fulfilling their potential, there being particular problems with steaming and rough riding. The latter was ameliorated by reducing boiler pressure to 250 psi. - this reduced the tractive effort, to 29,050lbs and its GWR power classification to D. The BR hierarchy were initially resistant to spending money on improvements to their inherited motive power fleet, but in 1953 Sam Ell was allowed to tackle the draughting issues afflicting a number of former GWR locomotives, including the Counties. Testing began with one of the of the poorer performers - 1000 'County of Middlesex', herself.

Filling the gaps

As the preservation movement got into its swing, the GWR 2-cylinder 4-6-0 development was well represented with examples of Hall, Manor, and Modified Hall. However, missing from the list were the Saint, the Grange, and the County. 

A new Lady

In 1995, the Great Western Society started a project which has developed into No. 2999 Lady of Legend. This reconstruction, based on Hall class frames and Standard No. 1 boiler, reflects the form of the pre-production Saints with square drop ends to the running plate, high running plate at the cab, and the ability to convert the locomotive between 4-6-0 and 4-4-2 Atlantic forms. 

2999 - Shown complete at Didcot in 2019. The reconstruction involved new cylinders, 6' 8½"driving wheels and a straight running plate with square ends as was fitted to the early 2971-2990 and the 'Lady' sub classes of the Saints. (GWS)

The 81st Grange

In 1998, the Betton Grange Society was formed at the Llangollen Railway with the aim of creating a new Grange class locomotive using standard Great Western parts such as wheels from 7325, a 43xx mogul, bogie and tender from Collett 5952 Cogan Hall and the boiler from 7927 Willington Hall, the frames from the Hall being used for our very own County. 

6880 Betton Grange, based at the Llangollen Railway, looking close to completion at the Warley Model Railway Show. (Betton Grange Society)

1014 County of Glamorgan

Finally we come to the Hawksworth County. The project started in 2004 using the frames and bogie of 7927 Willington Hall, and the firebox from 8F 48518. 


The vital statistics are:

Built: Swindon Works, as part of Lot No. 354 - February 1946
Named: 'County of Glamorgan' - March 1948
Double chimney fitted: November 1956

  • February 1946 - August 1960 - Bristol Bath Road, BRD/82A

  • August 1960 - September 1961 - Bristol St. Philip's Marsh, SPM/82B

  • September 1961 - April 1963 - Neyland, NEY/87H

  • April 1963 - April 1964 - Shrewsbury, SALOP/89A

Withdrawn: 24 April 1964 
Final mileage: 756,762
Cut up: J. Cashmore, Newport - December 1964

Rebuilt: 2004 - 

Aves, Bill- 'Swindon's New Century, Part IV', Locomotives Illustrated 146, RAS Publishing, Ashford, 2002.
Copsey, John. 'The Hawksworth Counties at Work', Great Western Journal, Wild Swan Publications, Didcot, Issues Nos. 52-54, Autumn 2004-Spring 2005. 
Cross, Derek.- 'Counties of the G.W.R.', Locomotives Illustrated 8, Ian Allan, Shepperton, 1976. 
Hennessy, R.A.S.- 'The 'County' Conundrum', Steam Railway, EMAP, Peterborough, Issue 340, p78-80, 2007
Hennessy, R.A.S.- 'The County Forum S.L.S. Journal No. 846, Volume 83, p141-146. 2007
Hodge, John, - 'Hawksworth 'Counties' in South Wales,' Steam Days, Redgauntlet Publications, Bournemouth 
Issue No. 194 p582-589, 2005
Inglis, Martin, 'County Set,' British Railways Illustrated, Irwell Press, Vol. 4 no. 3, 1994
Russell, J.H.- 'A Pictorial Record of Great Western Engines, Volume Two', Oxford Publishing Company, Oxford, 1975
Summers, L.A.- 'A New Update of Swindon Steam,' Great Western Society, Didcot, 2007
Thomas, Cliff, - 'The 'Lazarus' Locomotives, Number 3: County' 4-6-0 No. 1014 County of Glamorgan,' The Railway Magazine, IPC Media, London, No. 1270, vol 153, 2007. 
Waters, Laurence, - 'The Power of the Counties,' OPC, Ian Allan, Hersham, 2006.
'Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, Part 8, Modern Passenger Classes,' RCTS, 1953.

bottom of page