GWR 2857 Heavy Goods Loco

GWR 2857 Heavy Goods Loco
2857 20110923.jpg
2857 approaching Highley
Built By GWR Swindon Works
Configuration 2-8-0
Power class GWR: E, BR: 8F
Axle load class GWR: Blue
Status In store
Loco Number 2857
Built 1918
Designed By George Jackson Churchward
Type GWR 2800
1974 Purchased by 2857 Society
1975 Arrived on SVR
1979 First steamed in preservation
1985 Entered regular service on SVR
1994 Withdrawn for overhaul
2011 Reentered service
Length 63ft 2¼"
Weight 75t 10cwt
Tractive effort 35,380 lb
Pressure 225 lb/sq in

Steam Locomotives

2857 is a GWR Churchward 2800 Class locomotive, designed for heavy freight work. The GWR Power and Weight Classification were class E and axle load Blue respectively. It is fitted with the GWR 'Std. 1' boiler, which was also fitted to the 2900, 4000, 4900, 6800 and 6959 classes. During World War II some classes of locomotives were permitted to haul loads heavier than those specified in the working books for their power classification, distinguished by the white letter "X" painted above 2857's number plate.[1] Post-war the class was rated 8F by BR.


2857 in service

2857 was built in 1918 at the GWR’s Swindon Works and delivered new to Salisbury GWR depot in May of that year.[2] During a working life of 45 years it was based in many depots around the GWR (and later British Railways Western Region), including a brief spell at nearby Stourbridge shed in the early 1950s. The locomotive was withdrawn from Neath depot in April 1963 having recorded a total of 1,276,713 miles in service.[3]

2857 is paired with GWR 3500 gallon tender no 2355.

2857 in preservation

2857 was purchased from Woodham Bros scrapyard on 20th May 1974 by The 2857 Society for a cost of £5,250 plus £525 VAT; fund raising for the purchase was helped by a raffle organised by the SVRA Kidderminster branch which raised £1,950 nett.[4] The locomotive was moved by rail from Barry to the Severn Valley Railway in convoy with GWR Mogul 7325, arriving on 13th August 1975[5][6] (The 2857 Society website states 20 August).[7] They were respectively the 69th and 70th locomotives to leave Barry.[8]

Restoration and first steaming

Restoration began at Bewdley in January 1976 and was carried out in the open air. A major setback was the discovery of a cracked cylinder casting. Although attempts at welding this failed, the locomotive was first steamed in preservation on 9th September 1979, minus cladding. A replacement cylinder block was acquired, having been found during the demolition of the Briton Ferry Steelworks in South Wales. The locomotive was steamed intermittently through 1980 but without entering regularly in service. Mileage recorded during the period was as follows:

Year Mileage
1979 20
1980 195
Total 215

Continued restoration and first full boiler ticket

2857 passes Clun Castle near Newport

At the end of 1980 the SVR announced that preserved boilers on the railway needed to be brought up to 1980’s BR standards. The owning group therefore resumed the restoration, with the boiler being overhauled by the SVR as a contract job and the opportunity being taken to fit the replacement cylinder block among many other tasks. In spring 1984 a raffle organised by the SVRA Wolverhampton Branch was held to raise funds to help complete the restoration.[9]

2857 was steamed again on 18th August 1985 and after a week of running in was able to make her only appearance on the main line hauling a demonstration freight train as part of the GW 150 celebrations of that year (as a heavy freight locomotive, 2857 was not considered suitable for main line passenger rail tours):

Date Tour name Route Notes Web SVR News
10 Sep 1985 GW 150 Freight Demo Kidderminster-Hereford-Newport + return 25 SVR wagons also used 78-17
For further information on sources and references, see The Severn Valley Railway on the main line

2857 worked for the next 10 years until withdrawn for overhaul in December 1994, 1992 being spent on loan to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.[10] Mileage recorded during the period was as follows:

Year Mileage
1985 449
1986 2,563
1987 2,913
1988 5,892
1989 5,519
1990 4,788
1991 4,683
1992 3,428
1993 5,308
1994 5,648
Total 41,191
Cumulative 41,406

Overhaul and second boiler ticket

After expiry of the boiler ticket in February 1995, the owing group began a heavy general overhaul.[11] Filming took place in October 2000 for an episode of the 2001 TV series “ Off the Rails” featuring Vince Henderson. The overhaul of 2857 was one of the items featured, although the commentary referred to the locomotive as a pannier tank!

2857 re-entered service after overhaul in July 2011, although initially the return to service was anything but trouble free. In December of that year water was discovered in both pistons, resulting in a period out of service for repairs. By April 2012 the decision had been taken to take 2857 out of service for a second time, this time for a boiler lift to cure some leaking stays. A third period out of service was needed in August 2012 following a major valve failure. Finally in December 2012 a crack was found in one of the main steam pipes between the regulator and the superheater header. Sourcing a replacement steam pipe was not easy, but 2857 finally resumed service in early March 2013.[12]

Following these troubles, 2857 became a reliable performer, recording the highest annual mileage of any steam locomotive on the SVR in each of the years 2013 to 2015. Mileage since 2010 is recorded on the 2010-2019 Timeline page. However it became apparent in 2016 that as the locomotive approached its 100th anniversary, significant work would soon be required including relining the cylinders, replacing valves and pistons and attending to a bent piston rod. The locomotive was therefore withdrawn for an intermediate overhaul in September 2017, with a complete boiler re-tube being carried out at the same time.[13] The locomotive returned to service on 16 May 2018[14], 100 years to the month since first entering service. On 18 September 2018 the locomotive passed 100,000 miles in preservation, carrying both a headboard "Still gong strong, 100,000 miles" and a "100" headcode.[15] The 100 headcode remained in use during the Autumn Steam Gala which began on 24 September.[16] It reappeared on 11 November for the centenary of Remembrance Day.

During Autumn 2021 it underwent a Valve and Piston exam.[17] The boiler certificate was extended six months from July 2022 and the final day in traffic was be on 2 January 2023[18] The Society plan then to take her through a 10 yearly overhaul and return her to steam, hopefully in time for Great Western 200 in 2035: the Society and Railway have agreed to carry out a full condition report on the locomotive to determine the work load and cost involved. Decisions can then be taken after that has been completed.[19]

At the end of 2019, 2857 had recorded a total of 111,594 miles in preservation on the SVR. The reported total may include mileage on the main line and on hire to other railways[20].


See also


  1. Wikipedia
  2. BR Database
  3. 2857 Society web site 1
  4. SVR News 33,34
  5. SVR News 37 p.2. and p.14.
  6. SVR Stock Book Ninth Edition
  7. 2857 Society web site 2
  8. The Barry Story, Beckett & Hardingham (2010)
  9. SVR News 71, 74
  10. 2857 Society web site 3
  11. 2857 Society web site 4
  12. 2857 Society web site 5
  13. SVR News 201
  14. SVR Social Media
  15. SVR social media
  16. SVRLive
  17. SVR News 216, p. 17
  18. The 2857 Society on Facebook, 23 June and 19 August 2022
  19. The 2857 Society on Facebook 30 October 2021 and 19 August 2022
  20. SVR News 210, SVR-based Steam Locomotive Mileage 2017-2019, Duncan Ballard