TS18: The County Crosser
GWR’s 1000 “County” Class is coming soon courtesy of Partner Programme developer Victory Works; this unique example in Great Western two-cylinder design worked hard for years, and it will be yours to take to Devonian rails!
The standard GWR 4-6-0 locomotive design dated back to the turn of the 20th Century, when George Jackson Churchward revolutionised the way Great Western traction was to be built with his Saint Class, from which Charles Collett developed the Castles, Halls, Granges, and Kings to name a few.
When Frederick Hawksworth came to be Chief Mechanical Engineer of the GWR, he designed the likes of the Modified Halls, but aspired to build a 4-6-2 Pacific locomotive for post-war passenger use. Unfortunately, the struggle of the Second World War did not permit this, and by the end there was no demand for new passenger traction.
Instead, Hawksworth was granted the production of more mixed-traffic 4-6-0s, and so many of the ideals for the Pacific were worked into this new batch which became a testbed of sorts. The boiler was of differing design – Swindon Works had been used during the War to build LMS 8F locomotives, and Hawksworth studied the 8F’s boiler tooling for inspiration with the new fleet.
In all, a total of 30 new locomotives were built in two batches between 1945 and 1947, and were named as the “County” Class, a call-back to a previous class of the same name. Each were adorned with a nameplate stating a County of England or Wales that was served by the GWR network. The locomotives were numbered from 1000 to 1029 and were given a power rating of ‘D’, GWR’s equivalent of ‘6MT’ (mixed-traffic).
Something of an oddball among typical GWR traction, the County Class was quite distinctive from its predecessors despite being based off of a near-identical, standardised platform. Wheel splashers, and nameplates, were continuous along the body side as opposed to tapered with the wheels on previous locos. Multiple County locomotives were fitted with double chimneys, and when built had a staggering boiler pressure of 280psi, this made them more powerful than the four-cylindered Castles!
However, their incredible power put infrastructure at great risk, and to preserve the track, the boiler pressure was lowered, leaving the County Class in a state of bewilderment as it had little place - brand new but unable to compete. Despite this and their subsequent chequered reputation of being unnecessary, they were received well by others willing to see the successes of the class.
Throughout their lives, the power struggle did hinder the Counties but not entirely, they could work express passenger services from London Paddington to Penzance, in tandem with the Castles; and being mixed-traffic could also work freight across a the main line GWR network, where their heavy weight was permitted.
The Counties worked continuously until September 1962, from then the class was gradually withdrawn with the final leaving service in November 1964. What would be the final development of GWR’s 4-6-0 family served for only 17 years at most, and sadly none survived into preservation. However, the Didcot Railway Centre are striving to build a replica of 1014 County of Glamorgan using other donor locomotives.
And it could be said that all of the class will see the light of day once again, as through the fine efforts of Victory Works, the GWR County Class is coming soon to Train Simulator! ■
The Great Western Railway, and later British Railways, made full use of the County Class’ mixed-traffic design putting it to work wherever required. In Train Simulator, you too will soon be able to recreate the daily duties of a County locomotive. Over the years, the Counties saw several livery and logo changes, not to mention the rather unique double chimney. Above, we see this variation, including a circa-1954 ‘test’ locomotive! Fans of Great Western traction will find the cab of the County Class all-too-familiar (above); however with the potential of stepping on-board a locomotive with a 280psi boiler pressure, you’ll be able to put the Castles to shame in this two-cylindered masterpiece (below). The Riviera Line in the Fifties route (available separately) plays host to all manners of 20th Century GWR steam (above) - but soon, the GWR 1000, the final frontier, the last of the famed 4-6-0s, will arrive in Train Simulator!