Class 38XX County Class
Class: Class 38XX County Class
Designer: George J. Churchward
Weight: 100 tons
Purpose: Cross Country Passenger
Information: Generally considered a shortened derivative of the larger Churchward designed 4-6-0 Saint Class locomotives, the 38XX Class was specifically designed for working of local cross country passenger services on the weight restricted Hereford / Shrewsbury region of the GWR / LNWR joint line.
Details: The Class prototype, numbered 3800 was constructed at Swindon Locomotive Works in 1903. The 4-4-0 design featured two outside cylinders and as such was the only GWR design to be so configured. The design resulted in the locomotives being renowned for their rough ride attributes at speed.
Locomotives were built in three batches, each comprising of 10-locomotives commencing in 1904 and being completed in 1912. Class members were all named after Counties in Ireland, Wales, and the West of England. External differences introduced on the final batch included a revised curved running frame and a drop sided cab. Earlier batches were later revised accordingly. Additionally, experimentation of super-heating by the GWR resulted in the Class being revised by 1911.
While the Saint Class was continually improved on setting the pattern for future GWR 4-6-0 designs, the 38xx Class was generally unappreciated. By 1930 traffic volumes and load weights necessitated more power and this necessitated larger 2-6-0 or 4-6-0 wheel arrangements being implemented on the lines for which the 38XX had been designed. As such, withdrawal of the class commenced in 1930. By 1933 all 30-class members were withdrawn and allocated to be scrapped.