2800 2-8-0 GWR Churchward 2800-2883



Power Classification 8F
Introduced 1903- 1919
Designer Churchward
Company GWR
Weight – Loco 75t 10cwt
               Tender 40t 0cwt
Driving Wheels 4ft 7.5ins
Boiler Pressure 225psi
Cylinders Outside – 18.5in x 30in
Tractive Effort 35,380lbf
Valve Gear Stephenson (piston valve)

Churchward spent five years as Chief Assistant to Dean during a period when Dean was ill and delegated much of his design work to Churchward. During this period Churchward kept faith with many of the principles which Dean had employed. In 1903 Churchward formally became the Locomotive Superintendent of the GWR and at this he introduced a design which was his own.

This was the first 2-8-0 freight engine design to be built in this country. There were early designs of eight coupled 0-8-0 locomotives designed by Webb on the Lancashire & North Western Railway and Aspinall on the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. The first 2-8-0 locomotive was introduced in the USA in 1866 for carrying coal on the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Pennysylvania.

The GWR prototype 2-8-0 locomotive 2800 (originally No 97) was built in 1903 and underwent two years of trials before further production began which resulted in 84 of the class being built. The design was much in advance of its time and this class and the slightly modified 2884 class were built from 1903 until 1942. They remained the standard freight design on the GWR for the rest of the Company’s existence, and were used on the heaviest freight trains.

The earlier locomotives, originally had 18 inch diameter cylinders and were not superheated. They were superheated from 1909 onwards and had the cylinders bored out to 18.5 inches to match the later engines. All the locomotives were later fitted with curved framing over the cylinders and outside steam pipes.

The designed load for the class was 60 wagons. A test train comprising of engine no. 2806, a dynamometer car and 54 wagons began trials with the load progressively increased until 100 wagons were hauled. This then became the standard loading for the class.

In February 1906, identical sister locomotive 2808 hauled a record-breaking train from Swindon to Acton. The trainload of 107 loaded coal wagons was made up of 20 twenty ton, 6 twelve ton, 78 ten ton, 2 nine ton and 1 eight ton capacity coal wagons. Assembled at Swindon, the whole train totalled 2012 tons, including the dynamometer car and brake van. This record by a production locomotive stood during the whole steam era, surpassed only by the one-off prototype G.W.R. locomotive The Great Bear which hauled 2375 tons in 1909.

The 2800 class were the first engines to pull 2000 tons, a remarkable feat for the time.

The significance of freight locomotives can be seen from the following

  • Between the 1850’s and 1950’s the railways made two-thirds of all of their profits from the carriage of all types of freight.
  • At the end of the Second World War, the number of Great Western Railway freight and mixed traffic locomotives outweighed the number of purely passenger locomotives by three to one.
  • In the 1930’s, freight receipts accounted for well over half of the Great Western Railway’s income.

The 2800 class was the direct ancestors of the Stanier LMS 2-8-0 8F class of which 852 were built between 1935 and 1946.

 2800 2800 class introduced by Churchward on the GWR in 1903
 LMS 8F LMS 8F introduced by Stanier in 1935

Twenty of the 2800 and 2884 class locomotives were rebuilt to oil burning during the coal crisis of 1947. They were renumbered in the 4800 series (causing the 4800 class of 0-4-2Ts to be renumbered in the 1400 series). By 1950 they were all converted back to coal burning with their original numbers.

The first of the 2800 class to be withdrawn was the prototype, number 2800 in April 1958 after travelling 1,319,831 miles, whereas the last engine in service until November 1965 was 3836.

Because of the success of the 2800 class Collett introduced his version of the locomotive in 1938 as the 2884 class.

Many of the standard 9F locomotives built in the later part of the 1950s were used to replace 2800 and 2884 class locomotives on the Western region of BR.

 2800 2800 class introduced by Churchward on the GWR in 1903
 2884 2884 class introduced by Collet on the GWR in 1938
 92000 Standard 9F 92000 class introduced in 1954

The standard 2-10-0s were withdrawn from duty on the Western Region in 1965 but a number were reallocated to depots on the London Midland Region.



No in Service

1903 2800             1                  1
1905 2801 – 20           20                21
1907 2821 – 30          10                31
1911 2831 – 35            5                36
1912 2836 – 49          14                50
1913 2850 – 55            6                56
1918 2856 – 75          20                76
1919 2876 – 83            8                84
1920 – 57                84
1958                6                78
1959              27                49
1960              14                35
1961                1                34
1962                6                28
1963              18                10
1964                9                  1
1965                1                  0

The last of the class in service was 2876 which was withdrawn from service in January 1965 from Ebbw Junction depot.

Accidents and Incidents

  • On the 15th January 1936 locomotive 2802 was involved in an accident whilst hauling a freight train that became divided at Shrivenham in Oxfordshire. An express passenger train hauled by King class 6007 King William III collided with the rear portion of the freight due to errors by the guard and signalman. Two people were killed in the accident.


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