LMR 600 Gordon

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LMR 600 Gordon
Longmoor Military Railway Gordon Severn Valley Railway.jpg
LMR 600 Gordon
Built By North British Locomotive Co
Configuration 2-10-0
Status Out of service
Loco Number LMR 600
Other Numbers WD 73651
Built 1943
Designed By Robert Riddles
Type WD Austerity 2-10-0
1971 Arrived on SVR
1999 Last steamed on SVR
Length 58ft 10¼"
Weight 94t 9cwt
Tractive effort 34,215 lb
Pressure 225 lb/sq in

Steam Locomotives

Longmoor Military Railway No. 600 'Gordon' was built in 1943 at the North British Locomotive Company’s Hyde Park Works in Glasgow as works number 25437. The locomotive, which is named after Gordon of Khartoum, is a World War II ‘Austerity’ locomotive designed by R. A. Riddles, and was the second of 150 such locomotives built. It was originally numbered WD 73651 for the War Department.

The standard War Department 2-8-0 freight locomotive was a simplified version of the LMS 8F. The 2-10-0 design was introduced to give a reduced axle loading, mainly intended for overseas use where track quality could be worse than Great Britain. To enable the locomotive to negotiate sharp curves, the 2-10-0’s centre driving wheels are flangeless whilst the next pairs have reduced flanges (a feature continued in the BR Standard 9F).

25 such locomotives were purchased by British Railways in 1948 and were classified as 8F.

Despite superficial similarities of being blue and named Gordon, there is no ostensible link between the locomotive and the fictional anthropomorphic tender locomotive in The Railway Series books by Reverend Wilbert Vere Awdry.

LMR 600 Gordon in service

Although the 2-10-0 design was intended for overseas use, ‘Gordon’ only saw wartime service in Great Britain. Post-War, Gordon was mainly confined to the Longmoor Military Railway where, numbered 600, it was used by the Royal Engineers as a driver-training engine. However in 1957 during the Suez crisis, it is known to have worked highly secret trains between Longmoor and Southampton.[1] It also worked special trains, such as the RCTS 'Longmoor Railtour' on 16 April 1966 from Woking onto the LMR, and onward to Staines.[2]

Gordon’s last major steam event was the final open day at Longmoor camp on 5 July 1969. The line closed on 31 October 1969, Gordon working the final train, from Oakhanger to Longmoor.[2]

LMR 600 Gordon in preservation

Gordon on the SVR in 1972 (Wikimedia Commons)
Gordon at Rainhill in 1980 (Wikimedia Commons)

The Association of Railway Preservation Societies, through the Longmoor Trust, negotiated in 1970 a lease of part of the LMR, including an indefinite loan of Gordon. Subsequent objections caused the planning application to fail.[2] Gordon was still the property of the British Army when the Longmoor Military Railway closed and was subsequently sold for non-military purposes. Following this closure, the Army asked the Tranport Trust if it could provide a suitable home for the locomotive.[3] Gordon arrived on loan to the SVR on 20 September 1971 through the courtesy of the Army and the Transport Trust, accompanied by three vintage carriages.[4]

After steam testing in January 1972, the locomotive entered service.[5] In August 1975 it travelled to Shildon under its own power to attend the Rail 150 celebrations. Service continued with only a brief break for the boiler to be completely retubed during the summer of 1978.[6] In 1980 Gordon travelled in light steam to Bold Colliery from where it participated in the locomotive parade at Rocket 150 at Rainhill.

Gordon is one of only two steam locomotives on the SVR (along with 34027 Taw Valley) which are equipped to work with air-braked rolling stock. This facility was occasionally used in preservation, including in May 1982 when Gordon worked an incoming train of 19 wagons delivering 1,800 concrete sleepers.[7].

Having seen action in each of the years 1972 to 1984, Gordon’s boiler succumbed to broken stays and thin firebox plates and the locomotive was withdrawn from service at the end of that year, in the words of Chief Engineer Alun Rees "much to the relief of many of the footplate crews".[8]

After a period out of service, Gordon re-entered service on 8 December 1990, the day being marked by a severe blizzard.[9] On 4 September 1993, Gordon took over an incoming railtour with the VSOE Pullman train at Kidderminster, when Prince Michael of Kent travelled on the footplate. The locomotive was also used for a series of specials with TV entertainer Roy Castle on Saturday 25 March 1995.[note 1] Service continued until 1998, although in the SVR News locomotive notes for spring 1999 Jan Chojnacki reported that "I have it on good authority that a sweepstake is being organised for the next failure".[10] The words proved prophetic, as shortly thereafter a fractured small tube causing significant damage in the firebox.[11]

Gordon has not seen service on the SVR since 1999. It was one of the original locomotives to go on display in The Engine House at Highley from opening in March 2008. On Friday 25 July 2008, Gordon was formally handed over from the National Army Museum to the SVR in a ceremony at the Engine House, where it remains on display.[12][13] Gordon is owned by SVR(H).

Due to its size and weight, Gordon is restricted to 5mph over Victoria Bridge.[14]

Mileage recorded by Gordon as reported in SVR News was as follows:

Year Mileage
1972 315
1973 670
1974 1,405
1975 1,020
1976 1,870
1977 1,720
1978 435
1979 630
1980 1,710
1981 1,060
1982 1,745
1983 1,266
1984 1,206
1990 829
1991 3,835
1992 1,870
1993 2,340
1994 4,031
1995 5,262
1996 2,832
1997 3,104
1998 3,889
1999 62
Total 43,106

See also

Steam Locomotives
Severn Valley Railway Timeline 1970-1979
SVR-based locomotives visiting other events


  1. Information board in The Engine House
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Railway Magazine, October 2019. pp. 40-46
  3. SVR Stock Book 9th edition
  4. SVR News 21
  5. SVR News 23
  6. SVR News 48
  7. SVR News 64
  8. SVR News 74
  9. SVR News 98
  10. SVR News 129
  11. SVR News 130
  12. SVR News 164
  13. SVR given Gordon, Heritage Railway Magazine, Issue 115, 4 September – 1 October 2008
  14. General Appendix to Working Timetables and Rules and Regulations, Section O6(a)


  1. A caption in SVR News 114 Spring 1995 p.6. states "Saturday 25 March 1994". Given the 1995 date of publication, and that 25 March was a Saturday in 1995 but a Friday in 1994, the running date is assumed to be 1995. Stock Book 9 also mentions 1994, possibly based on that caption.


WD Austerity 2-10-0 on Wikipedia