6000 King George V

6000 King Geoge V at Bulmers at Hereford - May 1969.jpg

The locomotive was the first of the “King” Class, and was built in June 1927. It was shipped to the United States in August 1927 to feature in the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad’s centenary celebrations. During the celebrations it was presented with a bell and a plaque, and these are still carried to this day. This led to it being affectionately known as “The Bell”.

After returning from the US it was allocated to Old Oak Common, but was moved to Bristol in 1950. It was subsequently allocated to Old Oak Common again in 1959, to be withdrawn by the Western Region of British Railways in December 1962 after covering 1,910,424 miles.

During operation the engine did have a number of alterations made to it.

  • In 1952 it was fitted with a four-row superheater
  • In 1955 it acquired a new-style single chimney
  • In 1956 it was fitted with a double chimney
  • In 1958 it had new front end frames
  • Last boiler fitted 1954

After withdrawal from service at the end of 1962 the locomotive was stored at Swindon before being moved to Stratford in December 1964. It returned to Swindon in December 1966.

It was then loaned to Bulmers Cider Ltd who were based at Hereford where a railway heritage centre (since closed) was established. Bulmer then arranged for the locomotive to be moved to an engineering works in Newport in August 1968. It was at Newport that 6000 was restored and the locomotive returned to Hereford in November 1968 in a fully operational state.

At this time there was a ban on steam locomotives running on the main line. The exception was Flying Scotsman which went to America in 1969. The ban was also relaxed in July 1969 to allow three steam locomotives to run on a length of track at an open day at Cricklewood depot.

In 1971 Richard Marsh became the chairman of the British Railways Board and he agreed with the proposal of Peter Prior (the managing director of Bulmers) to use 6000 King George V to haul a five coach train on a Bulmers promotional tour of the country. In September 1971 the locomotive was inspected and passed for main line running  and two days later an unannounced trial run was made to Newport.

In early October 1971 6000 made a four-day tour of the Western Region which included Kensington and Birmingham. Three British Rail Mk1 coaches were added to the Bulmers’ Pullman coaches and fare paying passengers were allowed to travel on the train. Two further runs were undertaken later in October 1971.

In June 1972 allowed a very limited return to steam on the main line.

The King class locomotives were only allowed to operate on a limited number of lines on the GWR because of their size. 6000 was thus allowed on one or two lines but never operated outside of the Western Region.

In September 1974 the safety valve of the locomotive struck a road overbridge at Llantarnam whilst the locomotive was travelling at speed. The valve cover was ripped off together with the valves which released a boiler full of steam. The local fire brigade were called to pump water into the boiler to minimise the damage. The cause of the accident was the recent re-ballasting of the line which caused the trackbed to be raised a few inches. The badly damaged safety valve cover was found in an adjoining field. Following the incident the locomotive was pushed to Ebbw Vale Junction by a diesel shunter. 6000 stayed there for six days whilst it was examined and a borrowed safety valve was fitted from GWR Prairie 4150 which was then at the Dean Forest Railway.

After a number of years of running 6000 had its last run in September 1987 when it ran from Swindon to Hereford. It was decided not to undertake an expensive overhaul as by then 6024 King Edward I had been returned to working order after a lengthy restoration.

6000 is now displayed in its original condition with full-height fittings. In 2008, 6000 moved from the Swindon Steam Railway Museum, where it had been displayed for several years, to the National Railway Museum at York.

Home BaseCurrent StatusOwner
Steam, Museum of the GWR, SwindonOn static displayNational Railway Museum

NRM Object Number{1978-7037}

6000 King George V at Swindon – May 1933
6000 King George V on Plymouth Laira shed – July 1959
6000 King George V at unknown location – Circa 1961
6000 King George V at Old Oak Common – 1962
6000 King George V outside Swindon works – June 1962
6000 King George V arriving at Bristol Temple Meads with a train from Paddington to Weston – July 1962
6000 King George V arriving at Bristol Temple Meads station with a train from Paddington to Weston-Super-Mare – July 1962
6000 King George V at Paddington – September 1962
6000 King Geoge V at Bulmers at Hereford – May 1969
6000 King George V near Chipping Sodbury – October 1971
6000 King George V at High Wycombe – October 1971
6000 King George V near Pandy on the climb to Llanvihangel – October 1971
6000 King George V at Tyseley with 46201 Princess Elizabeth on the rear-1971
6000 King George V at Tyseley -1971
6000 King George V at Ebbe Junction after the safety valve hit a bridge (see above) – September 1974 Supplied by Ray Viney
6000 King George V in the erecting shop at Swindon – March 1979
6000 King George V leaving Shrewsbury on the return leg of a train back to Newport – September 1983
6000 King George V at Gloucester Central to haul one of the special trains to Swindon for the Great Western Railways 150 year celebrations – August 1985
6000 King George V at Burry Port – September 1987
6000 King George V at Newport whilst hauling its last mainline train (Swindon-Gloucester-Newport-Hereford-Shrewsbury) – September 1987
6000 King George V in Steam at Swindon – September 2007
6000 King George V in the National Railway Museum at York – January 2009
6000 King George V in the Steam Museum at Swindon – July 2016

Back to 6000 class

Back to GWR

Back to Locomotives

National Railway Museum Collection