GWR 238 Autotrailer Third

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GWRGreat Western Railway 238 Autotrailer Third
1450 20140309.jpg
Autocoach 238 leads GWRGreat Western Railway 1450 away from Highley
Built By BRBritish Rail or British Railways(W) Swindon
Status In service
Number W238W
Built 1954
Designed By HawksworthFrederick Hawksworth, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1941-1948
Diagram A43
Lot 1766
Type Auto trailer
Length 63ft 0¾in
Weight 31t 13cwt
Seats 68 third
2014 Arrived on SVRSevern Valley Railway


The GWRGreat Western Railway Autocoach, sometimes called an Autotrailer, was used by the Great Western Railway for push-pull trains powered by a steam locomotive. The autocoach has a driving cab at one end, allowing the driver to control the train without needing to be on the footplate of the locomotive. This eliminates the need for the engine to run round to the other end of the coach at the end of each journey. The combination of locomotive and autocoach(es) is known as an auto-train or, historically, a railmotor train, and they were mainly used on small branch lines.

Steam locomotives provided with the equipment to be used as an auto-train are said to be auto-fitted. The driver operates the regulator, brakes and whistle from the autocoach; the fireman remains on the locomotive and in addition to firing, also controls the valve gear settings. The driver, guard and fireman can communicate with each other by an electric bell system.

Many Autocoaches were rebuilt from steam railmotors, although both examples on the SVRSevern Valley Railway were built as autocoaches from new.

W238W in service

W238W was built at Swindon in 1954, after Nationalisation, as Diagram A43 Lot 1766 to a HawksworthFrederick Hawksworth, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1941-1948 design. By that time BRBritish Rail or British Railways had adopted a carriage numbering scheme using a prefix to indicate the region to which the carriage was allocated ('W' being the Western region) and a suffix to indicate its pre-Nationalisation origin ('W' referring to its former GWRGreat Western Railway design). It seated 68, 4 fewer than the pre-war CollettCharles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1922-1941 designed 178.

W238W in preservation

It was originally preserved pre-1972 at the Paignton & Dartmouth, before moving to the DeanWilliam Dean, Chief Locomotive Engineer of the Great Western Railway 1877-1902 Forest railway in May 2008.[1] Bewdley Carriage & Wagon Department carried out a full restoration as a contract job, which was completed by June 2011. This included a repaint into early 1960s BRBritish Rail or British Railways lined maroon livery and application of the name "Chaffinch" (as intended when originally built, but never carried).

W238W moved to the SVRSevern Valley Railway in March 2014 along with autocoach 178 and auto-fitted locomotive GWR 1450, all owned by Pull Push Limited.[2] It usually sees use on local trains at galas, on footplate experience workings and on charters.

It joined 1450 at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway's 'Cotswold Festival of Steam gala' in May 2017.[3]

See also


  1. Railway Heritage Register Wagon Survey
  2. Felstead, K., 'Track Record', The Railway Magazine, January 2021
  3. Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway blog 13 March 2017 (Retrieved 13 March 2017)


W238 on Railway Heritage Register On-Line