Class: Castle Class
Designer: C. B. Collett
Weight: 136 tons (including tender)
Purpose: Express Passenger
Information: Built between 1923 and 1950 the Castle Class 4073 series were designed for express passenger service through-out the Great Western Railway. The Castle Class is generally noted for their over-all performance, operating economy, and long working lives.
Details: The prototype Castle was derived from rebuilding an earlier Churchward designed Saint Class locomotive. A total of 171 class members were built between 1923 and 1950. Although most were new builds, 15 examples were rebuilt Star Class locomotives, while one additional member was rebuilt from the GWR’s only Pacific, the “Great Bear”.
During 1924, class doyen 4073 “Caerphilly Castle” was exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition alongside the larger LNER 4472 “Flying Scotsman” in original A1 format. The Castle was declared the more powerful; resulting in the rebuild of the A1 class to A3 format. Subsequent locomotive exchanges proved the claim as other companies sought to replicate the success of the Castle.
The Castle’s set about their duties in diligent fashion, hauling all but the heaviest express workings through-out GWR metals. During 1946 Frederick Hawksworth had taken over from Collett at which time improvements were implemented to many class members over the next ten years. Improvements included super-heated boilers and double chimneys.
Liveries were typical of express passenger locomotives being out-shopped in lined green livery through their working careers in both Great Western and British Railways variants.
Interestingly, the first Castle to be with-drawn was in 1950; the same year the last member was constructed. As steam was replaced with diesel through-out the Western Region remaining Castle’s were gradually withdrawn, with the last member 7029 “Clun Castle” being with-drawn in December 1965. Eight members would survive into preservation with several remaining operational and main-line certified.
Previously we noted that a “Caerphilly Castle” was compared to “Flying Scotsman” in 1924. This was not the last time that a Castle would meet-up with probably the worlds’ most travelled and recognizable steam locomotive “Flying Scotsman”; but this time on friendly terms. The ceremonial meeting of 4472 “Flying Scotsman” and 4079 “Pendennis Castle” that took place on 17th of September 1989 was not to be in Great Britain, but rather some 10,000-miles distant in Perth, Australia. The strange story of how the meeting between a Castle and A3 came about is another story!