GWR Locomotives: The Manor Class

Railfan Steam


January 27th, 2022

George Jackson Churchward took over from William Dean as Chief Mechanical Engineer on the GWR around the turn of the 19th century. Up until then CMEs churned out locomotives that weren’t much different from Stephenson’s Rocket of 1830. They were bigger but basically similar designs.

Churchward went west for his inspiration to the United States where steam engines had been developed to a far greater extent as well as being massively impressive in size. The 2-6-0 Mogul was a well-developed mixed traffic concept and the Schenectady mogul of the locomotive company of the same name of the city in upstate New York was sold to Britain’s Midland Railway and the type proliferated elsewhere, notably Australia.

Churchward built his own mogul of the 43XX class and these were so successful that the class was extended to include 53XX, 63XX and 73XX number series totalling 342 engines by the time building stopped in 1932. They were blue route engines so could go on more lightly laid lines than say, red route engines of the Star and Castle classes.

Admirable though these mogul engines were the growth in railway traffic meant that eventually the locos were not large enough to handle the larger trains. In addition the moguls had a reputation for ‘nosing’ or swaying at high speed due to there being only a two-wheeled pony truck at the front. Paradoxically Churchward’s successor, Charles Collett, was a passenger on the Cheltenham Flyer, the world’s fastest train in the 1930s, when his train was overtaken by a 53XX on a quadrupled tracked section. The 53XX was timed at 83 mph.

However Collett got to the drawing board and produced a 4-6-0 that could still inhabit lighter blue routes but use some of the parts of the now aging 43XX as an economy measure. This was just after the Great Depression and money for new engines was tight. Prior to this he had introduced the 4-6-0 Grange class of eighty engines using some 43XX parts but these were red route engines.

The Manors were to be partly the successors to the moguls but only twenty were built before the advent of World War II. As the administration of production of locomotives had been taken over by a government department is was they who decided which railway built what. Unsurprisingly smaller mixed traffic engines were not required when the need was for mostly 2-8-0 Consolidation freight locos to haul around the massive volumes of war traffic. The US helped out by loaning (actually a gift) of 400 S160 USATC (United Sates Army Transportation Corps) 2-8-0 locomotives that were distributed amongst the four railway companies in Britain to help out with moving pre-D day freight traffic. A few of the S160s survive in preservation in the UK. There was other help in the form of the USA Dock Tanks that found service after the war on the Southern Railway and some of these engines also survive in preservation.

The Manors, introduced in 1938, had been used on the Ports to Ports Expresses which sounds rather grand but were used for transporting merchant seamen (all men then) from the North East of England to the South Wales ports. The train was known by railwaymen as ‘the Barry’ after one of the South Wales ports.

These trains were routed partly over a lighter rated blue route so needed a lighter engine. The trains were discontinued after the outbreak of the European war in 1939. After the war a further ten engines were built in around 1950 after nationalisation but impending modernisation scotched plans to build more to replace the moguls.

The Manors carved out a niche for themselves on the Cambrian Coast Express from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth. My own particular personal memory is of a Manor on the York to Aberystwyth mail train at Welshpool station. The Manor would have headed the train at Shrewsbury and taken over from either an ex-LMS Black 5 or Jubilee.

I had been with a party of young men working on the trackwork of the Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway which was in the early stages of preservation in March 1965. By then most of the traffic on the Cambrian main line was in the hands of BR Standard 4-6-0 and 2-6-0 locomotives. This one working, it was revealed, was still in the hands of a Manor as it needed to get seven or eight coaches over the fearsome Talerddig bank unaided. We arrived from Llanfair in an old Bedford (GM) van just as the gleaming Manor was leaving and the bark from the exhaust and showers of sparks in the cold night air is an image that will never leave me.

Manors latterly took over on the on the Pembroke Coast Express on the short section from Pembroke Dock to Whitland. At Whitland a Castle would be employed for the run to Paddington. In preservation, along with many other GWR locomotives, they were eagerly bought from either British Rail or Dai Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry in South Wales to the tune of nine locomotives, almost a third of the entire class. The later series of ten Manors built in around 1950 spent only about 15 years in revenue earning service and the preserved examples have spent far longer in preservation than they ever did with British Railways.

All pictures and drawings by the author Allen Jackson except where indicated. Fig1-7808-ABER Figure 1. 7808 'Cookham Manor' is at rest between turns on Aberystwyth shed in 1946. Both the shed and locomotive survive and both date from 1938; the shed as a facility on the Vale of Rheidol narrow gauge railway and Cookham Manor is a resident at the Didcot Railway Centre of the Great Western Society. The loco has the headcode for a stopping passenger train and is seen in 1934 GWR green livery as it was built with the bufferbeam numbering. After nationalisation it would acquire a cast front numberplate. The complicated ‘cash register’ signal in the back ground however does not survive. This signal enabled one of up to six routes to be selected by a caption in the black box and the arm coming ‘off’ or lowered. Photo by courtesy of the Great Western Trust. Fig2-ABERYSTWYTH-DETAIL Figure 2. A fairly detailed map of Aberystwyth station at about the same time as Figure 1, just before nationalisation. The station was also terminus to the branch line from Carmarthen in South West Wales and Manors would work this line as well. 7808, in the previous figure, is depicted to the right of the shed entrance at the opposite end to the hoist. The map in the book shows all Manor workings here recorded in over 150 publications, there are 15 maps in total. Fig3-7802-BEWD-2018-10 Figure 3. 7802 'Bradley Manor' rests at its disposal/signing on point behind Bewdley station on the Severn Valley Railway (SVR). The tarpaulin cover on the cab roof is all that protects the crew when the engine is running tender first, which on a preserved line, they do quite a lot. In revenue service every effort would be made to turn the loco to make sure it was engine first. Note how the rusty water from the boiler injector overflow has stained the foot step. Loco with Churchward 3,500 gallon tender. Visiting the SVR is the first BR Standard built 1951, Britannia Pacific 70000 'Britannia'. October 2018. Fig4-7802-HIGHLEY-20XX-XX Figure 4. 7802 'Bradley Manor' running tender first, happily in good weather, on its approach to Highley station on the SVR. The crew are straining to see the signals over the top of the 4,000 gallon tender and these engines were very seldom so equipped. On this occasion the train has had to be flagged into the station. The loco is pulling a rake of the excellently preserved London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) teak bodied coaches. These were in vogue when Mallard was record breaking. May 2008. Fig5-7808-DIDCOT-2018-AUG Figure 5. 7808 'Cookham Manor' is at its home depot of Didcot with a Modified Hall 4-6-0 6998 'Burton Agnes Hall'. Apart from the size differences, the Manor does not have the four cone ejector pipe running along the boiler. The purpose of this is to generate a vacuum for braking and the four cone type is for heavier trains. The Manor has only a single cone version. The Modified Hall has 6 foot driving wheels and so has no need of the step in the footplate over the cylinders that the Manor has to clear the 5 foot 8 inch driving wheels, similar to the Grange class. The Great Western Society holds an open day once a year and all engines in the shed are brought out and moved around for their guests. The GLO behind the Manor’s bufferbeam indicates a home depot of Gloucester (Horton Road) as the GWR did not go in for shed plates. August 2018. Fig6-7812-BRIDGNORTH-2012-MAY Figure 6. 7812 'Erlestoke Manor' is on tender first duty at platform 2 Bridgnorth station on the SVR. The GWR footbridge at Bridgnorth is of an increasingly rare type as examples on the Train Operating Company (TOC) lines are being removed to comply with disability access regulations. Although where the footbridge is a listed structure, and has to be preserved, the modern replacement has to co-exist with the older equipment. May 2012. Fig7-7819-ARLEY-2003-SEP Figure 7. What sometimes happens to an engine that is awaiting overhaul. 7819 'Hinton Manor' waits its turn in a siding at Arley on the SVR. In front of it is the tender of the WD Austerity 2-10-0 Dame Vera Lynn which together with the engine also waits. The Manor is fitted with the Collett intermediate 3,500 gallon tender as were most of the class in revenue service. A GWR pine tree makes up the scene. These were often planted at wayside stations to guide weary walking travellers to the station and provide some green relief in winter. September 2003. Fig8-7821-LOUGHBOROUGH-2003-AUG Figure 8. Leicestershire is not ‘home turf’ for the Manors but they are versatile in preservation. The steam blower is most definitely on for 7821 'Ditcheat Manor' and the fire is responding well at Loughborough station platform on the heritage Great Central Railway. The blower uses steam to create a draught to get the fire to burn better. It is mostly used when the engine is stationary. August 2003. Fig9-7822-GLYNDYDWYDWY-2008-APR Figure 9. Glyndyfrdwy station on the Llangollen Railway is the venue for 7822 'Foxcote Manor' hauling a demonstration freight train. The first vehicle is a SHARK ballast plough that spreads the stones on the track before tamping before all those processes were mechanised. Most of the buildings at the station were lost when it closed in the 1960s so buildings from elsewhere were brought here. The signal box came from Leaton on the Wrexham to Shrewsbury line. The 84J shed plate code refers to Croes Newydd in Wrexham which later became 89B. May 2008. Fig10-7827-CHURSTON-2019-MAR Figure 10. 7827 'Lydham Manor', in lined BR black livery, lets go with a typical GWR staccato bark as it sets off from Churston station on the Paignton to Kingswear heritage line. The acute form of exhaust makes the fire draw well to get steam up. The first vehicle is the former Devon Belle Observation Car which used to run on the former Southern Railway and is a very popular on this highly scenic line. Churston is the engineering base for the line and is the former junction for the fishing port of Brixham. March 2019. Fig11-7828-MINEHEAD-2016-MAY Figure 11. 7828 'Odney Manor' runs round its train at Minehead on the West Somerset Railway (WSR). This locomotive was renamed Norton Manor in honour of Royal Marines 40 Commando whose base is at Norton Fitzwarren close the WSR and who had fought with distinction in the Falklands War. May 2016.

GWR Locomotives: The Manor Class, by Allen Jackson, is available courtesy of Amberley Books: https://www.amberley-books.com/discover-books/transport-industry/railways/gwr-locomotives-the-manor-class.html GWR-Manor-Class-Allen-Jackson-Book-Cover

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