The 4700 class was the last to be designed for the GWR by G. J. Churchward. It was a mighty 2-8-0 fast freight loco which was also used to haul heavy passenger express trains carrying summer holiday makers to the West Country. They entered service just after he retired. Just nine were built as Lot 221 of 1921, restricted in use by the limited number of lines on which they could run. They were fitted with the large No7 boiler, although the prototype was first fitted with a No 1 boiler which proved inadequate. However, that boiler became standard on the ubiquitous Hall and Grange classes by Collett used for mixed work on a more extensive network. The No 7 boiler was unique to the 4700s, apart from a longer version fitted to the King class.

Driving and coupled wheels of the 4700s were 5’ 8” dia and the total length was 66’ 4.25”. It weighed in at 82 tons. Both 3,500 and 4,000 gallon tenders were used adding up to another 47 tons when full.

The class was withdrawn from 1962 to 1964. None survived into preservation. However, the Great Western Society decided to create the next loco in the sequence and no 4709 is now under construction using a mixture of new parts and others recycled from the Barry scrapyard.

Details of the GWS 47XX project can be found on their website GWR 47xx along with how to become involved with this great venture. Because of the GWS work, modellers can also learn a lot about these locomotives, possibly including access to Swindon Works’ drawings (see frame plan drawing below).

A number of earlier GW 2-8-0s have been preserved from the smaller 28XX class also designed by Churchward and produced from 1905 to 1919. Two are operational, on the Severn Valley Railway and the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. Three GW 2-8-0 tank locos of the 5205 class and two from the GW 7200 class of 2-8-2T engines converted from the 5205 class also survive. Martin Evans produced a design for the 28XX in 5” gauge.

This fine model of 4704, pictured at the Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition in 2016, was made by Dave Ball. Dave also made another GW freight loco, a magnificent 7.25” gauge Armstrong Goods loco from an earlier era which was one of the highlights at the memorable 2007 Ascot centenary exhibition.


Dave Ball’s