B Wilkinson


The 57xx class was the most numerous of any on the Great Western Railway (and indeed one of the most numerous in the UK) with a total fleet of 863 engines. The first was introduced in 1929 as a development of the 2721 class developed during the previous century. The engines were primarily intended for light goods and shunting,and proving extremely reliable and were also useful for light passenger services and, in emergency, express runs. Production continued in batches until soon after nationalization, the last being turned out in 1949. This class of locomotives were rated by the late GWR guru, Pete Rich, as the finest to appear on the Great Western, above even the Kings and Castles.

Many were built by outside contractors such as North British, Bagnall, Kerr Stuart, Yorkshire Engine, Armstrong Whitworth and Beyer Peacock as well as GWR's works at Swindon. Sixteen of the class have survived into preservation  a number of them via London Transport and the National Coal Board, both bodies continuing to employ them long after the demise of their classmates on the main line. Many main line preservation societies have a 57xx on their register, still doing excellent work.

The locomotive weighs 49 tons and operates at a boiler pressure of 200 PSI. They have two inside cylinders of 17 inches bore by 24 inches stroke, driving 4ft 7 in. diameter driving wheels.

A 5” gauge design for this engine originated in the late 1950s by the prolific LBSC from works drawings, and his Pansy construction series ran in the Model Engineer magazine for a couple of years. More recently Doug Hewson designed a super detailed version.

This example was shown by B Wilkinson at the 2018 Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition. No. 7752 was sold to London Transport in 1959 and renumbered L94. In 1971 it hauled the last steam train on the London Underground. It was immediately bought by 7029 Clun Castle Ltd., and certified for mainline operation. It has visited various heritage railways and was temporarily returned to LT livery in 2011 to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the last run on London Underground.