Graham Hawkins’


This impressive model of G. J. Churchward, Castle class locomotive no 7017, is by Graham Hawkins in 5” gauge. The original was the only Castle to have full stops in its name, taken from the name of the great GW locomotive designer who was responsible for the Saint and Star locomotives which were the basis of all the highly successful 4-6-0 two and four cylinder engines that followed.

The GWR Castle class of locomotives were designed by Charles Collett, the company’s Chief Mechanical Engineer.  A development of the earlier Star Class, 171 Castles were built between 1923 and 1950. They were numbered 4073–4099; 5000–5099; 7000–7037. Fifteen were rebuilt from Star locomotives and one from the Great Bear, the only Pacific engine ever to ride GW rails.

They were top  performing engines, notably on top-link express trains. During the 1930s Tregenna Castle covered the 77.25 miles (124.3km)  from Swindon to Paddington at an average speed of 81.68 mph (131.4km/h) from start-to-stop, a world record for steam traction. Speeds over 100mph were regularly attained on The Bristolian express.

The Castles handled all but the heaviest loads, these being left to the King class, itself a development of the Castle, with a larger boiler and slightly smaller wheels to give increased tractive effort.

  1. G.J. Churchward was built in 1948 and scrapped in 1963. Fortunately eight Castles survived into preservation.