GWR 7812 Erlestoke Manor

GWR 7812 Erlestoke Manor
7812 20170422.jpg
7812 Erlestoke Manor in April 2017
Built By GWR Swindon Works
Configuration 4-6-0
Power class GWR: D, BR: 5MT
Axle load class GWR: Blue
Status In Service
Loco Number 7812
Built 1939
Designed By Charles Benjamin Collett
Type GWR 7800
1974 Purchased by The Erlestoke Manor Fund
1979 First steamed in preservation
1985 Withdrawn for overhaul
2008 Reentered service
2017 Withdrawn for overhaul
2023 Reentered service
Length 61ft 9¼"
Weight 68t 18cwt
Tractive effort 27,340 lb
Pressure 225 lb/sq in

Steam Locomotives

7812 Erlestoke Manor is a GWR Collett 7800 Manor class 4-6-0 mixed traffic locomotive. The Manor class was designed as a lighter version of the GWR Grange Class, giving a wider Route Availability. The first 20, including all three at the SVR, were built between 1938 and 1939 and incorporated parts from old GWR 4300 Class Moguls. BR built a further 10 in 1950 and rated the class 5MT.


7812 Erlestoke Manor in service

7812 Erlestoke Manor is one of three Manor class locomotives based at the SVR, the others being 7802 Bradley Manor and 7819 Hinton Manor. 7812 was named after the Manor at Erlestoke, a village near Devizes in Wiltshire. It entered service in January 1939 in the Bristol/Bath area, working passenger and freight trains to places such as Salisbury, Weymouth, Weston Super Mare and Cardiff. Post-War, 7812 was based in the far South-West, often assisting with long distance expresses on the notorious ‘Devon banks’.

In late 1960, 7812 moved to the Oswestry/Shrewsbury/Cambrian area where 7802 Bradley Manor was already working. Both locomotives were thought to have been withdrawn at Shrewsbury on 6 November 1965, and both moved to Woodham’s scrapyard at Barry in June 1966. However, in November 2015, evidence in the form of a footplate diary (see below) was presented to the Erlestoke Manor Fund, indicating that Erlestoke Manor was still in service on 13 November 1965.

7812 Erlestoke Manor in preservation

Around the beginning of 1973, a small group of enthusiasts made a number of visits to Barry to select a suitable locomotive for restoration in conjunction with the then recently formed Dean Forest Railway Preservation Society. Although they had no preference for a particular type of locomotive, 7812 appeared to be in good condition and after research and a professional inspection, the locomotive was officially reserved at a meeting with Dai Woodham in February 1973.[1]

The Erlestoke Manor Fund was immediately formed to raise the proposed cost of £4,000. They were unable to obtain sufficient funds before the introduction of 10% VAT on 31 March increased the cost to £4,400. A further increase of 50% was forecast at 1 July 1973 due to the de-regulation of scrap metal prices; fund raising efforts and a substantial bank loan enabled the purchase to be completed on 28 June 1973.[2]

The locomotive was moved to the 'departure sidings' at Barry where weekly working parties began preparing the locomotive for departure, with parts being accumulated and stored in Fruit D 92090 which was housed at Gloucester. It transpired that there was insufficient room at Parkend on the Dean Forest Railway, so a temporary home for 7812 was agreed at the now-closed Dowty R.P.S. preservation site at Ashchurch near Tewkesbury. A quotation of £1,100 from BR was accepted to move 7812 and 4150 to Parkend with 7812 continuing to Ashchurch. Both locomotives left Barry on Saturday 18 May 1974;[note 1] 7812 took part in an open day at Parkend on the Sunday and then continued to Ashchurch the following day.[3]

Work continued on the locomotive at Ashchurch, although at a 'low ebb' as the future of the DFR became uncertain.[note 2] A referendum of the Fund's members expressed the wish for the locomotive to be based at an operational line with main line access. Various options were considered and the Severn Valley Railway was eventually selected, confirmed by a second referendum.[4]

The SVR announced that the move had been agreed in summer 1975.[5] A fund member acquired LNER 4236 Gangwayed Passenger Brake to be fitted out as a sales van and store which arrived on the SVR in April 1975. After 'prolonged negotiations between the various parties concerned', 7812 moved to the SVR on 23 April 1976, hauled by English Electric Type 3 diesel 37183 and accompanied by two GWR breakdown vans, numbers 66 and 162, together with Fruit D 92090.[6]. [[John Fowler 150hp Diesel Shunter No 17 Highflyer|Diesel Shunter No 17 Highflyer completed the move from Foley Park to Bewdley.

Restoration of 7812 quickly began at Bewdley, where the locomotive was one of five to participate in the 'great boiler lift' on 3 May 1976.[7] The boiler had been refitted by autumn 1977[8] and by summer 1979 the locomotive had been steamed on several occasions. It was finished in a 'controversial livery', being the first SVR-based locomotive to be restored in lined BR green.

On Saturday 1 September 1979 the locomotive was formally renamed by Swindon Works manager Harry Roberts in a ceremony at Bewdley, before hauling an inaugural "shareholders' special" to Bridgnorth and back. The trip was repeated in the evening for SVR members, although the return was disrupted by wet weather, resulting in an announcement on the Bridgnorth PA that "The train arriving at Platform 1 is the one that left 45 minutes ago!" The trip was eventually completed well after midnight. The rest of the year was then applying finishing touches before 7812 formally entered service in 1980.[9] The EMF also announced that they had acquired 7802 Bradley Manor to provide a spare boiler and other parts, with the SVR board agreeing to its arrival on that basis.[10]

Service continued during 1980, but in spring 1981 the locomotive was failed with boiler tube issues. The repairs also involved the firebox seam rivets and some copper welding, together with renewal of many stay nuts. Following re-tubing, 7812 returned to service in spring 1982,[11] after which the locomotive made several appearances on main line rail tours as follows:

Date Tour name Route Notes Web SVR News
17 April 1982 Welsh Marches Express Hereford - Newport - Hereford D/H with 4930 Hagley Hall 64-28
24 April 1982 Welsh Marches Pullman Shrewsbury - Hereford D/H with 4930 Hagley Hall SBJ 64-29
5 May 1982 Welsh Marches Express Hereford - Chester 66-9
5 June 1982 Shrewsbury-Newport D/H with 43106
For further information on sources and references, see The Severn Valley Railway on the main line

7812 appeared in the 1983 TV movie The Weather In The Streets. The locomotive was withdrawn from service in late 1985 with a large crack in an old firebox weld.[12] Following the withdrawal of sister locomotive 7802 Bradley Manor during the 2000 boiler crisis[13], the decision was taken to use Erlestoke's repaired boiler and refurbished bogie to allow Bradley Manor to make a quick return to service.[14] A similar swap had taken place during April 1948 when boiler number 14/6406 was removed from Erlestoke and later fitted to Bradley in November 1948 following repair.[15]

In due course, Erlestoke Manor’s own overhaul was completed in time for a return to service in 2008, attached to a new 3,500 gallon well tank tender constructed using parts and wheelsets from an old tender.[16]

In 2012 it was filmed in scenes for a fantasy adventure film The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box.

On Thursday 24 May 2012 the Olympic Torch arrived on the SVR. 7812 Erlestoke Manor carried the torch between Bewdley and Kidderminster, pausing for a photo opportunity with Bewdley Safari Park’s elephants.

On 29 August 2012 Erlestoke Manor masqueraded as sister GWR 7802 Bradley Manor and was given a Bradley Wiggins-style makeover with a coat of gold paint and sideburns in honour of Team GB's success at London 2012 Olympics[17].

On 26 August 2016, the engine emulated sister Bradley Manor by achieving 100,000 miles of running in preservation, the event being commemorated with a special headboard announcing "Still going strong -- 100,000 miles".[18] In March 2017 the tender was fitted with a set of "goal posts". These were used in the early 1960s to warn train crew working "under the wires" on newly electrified lines. The addition has been made so that 7812 was in near-1965 condition during her final year in traffic.[19]

Erlestoke Manor's 10 year 'ticket' expired at the end of 2017 and the locomotive immediately moved to Tyseley for overhaul to commence on 4 January 2018. The Erlestoke Manor Fund's goal was "To overhaul Erlestoke Manor 7812 during 2018 and 2019 for its return to service in 2020",[20] although progress was inevitably affected by the 2020 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The boiler passed its out-of-frames steam test in October 2021.[21] 7812 returned to the SVR at the start of December 2022 for test running ahead of a full return to traffic, although this was ended when two warm axleboxes were detected on the first day. The SVR's wheeldrop was not available until February 2023, and after examination it was considered prudent to return the locomotive to Tyseley for further checks on the coupled wheelsets. Running in on the SVR restarted on 5 April 2023 with a 'low key' entry into passenger service on 10 April ahead of an appearance at the SVR Spring Steam Gala the following weekend.[22]

In 2023 the EMF announced that after taking part in the Gala, 7812 would spend the summer on hire to the West Somerset Railway, as opportunities for use on the SVR were limited.[23]

At the end of 2019, 7812 had recorded a total of 110,743 miles in preservation on the SVR. The reported total may include mileage on the main line and on hire to other railways[24].


See also


  1. 7812 and 4150 are respectively recorded as the 56th and 57th locomotives to leave Barry
  2. BR had announced that they intended to retain the Lydney to Parkend branch indefinitely, putting the DFR's future in doubt.


  1. Life Begins at Forty, EMF (compiled by S.V. Blencoe), p.11.
  2. Life Begins at Forty, p. 12.
  3. Life Begins at Forty, p. 15.
  4. Life Begins at Forty, pp. 19-20.
  5. SVR News 36
  6. SVR News 140
  7. SVR News 40
  8. SVR News 45
  9. SVR News 53
  10. SVR News 54
  11. SVR News 59, 60, 63
  12. SVR News 78
  13. SVR News 134
  14. SVR News 136, 208
  15. EMF History
  16. SVR News 208
  17. Midlands Business News, 29 August 2012
  18. SVR Official Facebook Page, "Erlestoke Manor strikes gold", retrieved 30/08/2016
  19. Erlestoke Manor Fund Twitter feed
  20. EMF Web site 'Our Goals and Objectives' page
  21. EMF on Facebook, October 2021
  22. EMF Newsletter no 81, April 2023
  23. 7812 'Erlestoke Manor' to make a temporary move from the Severn Valley Railway EMF announcement, February 2023
  24. SVR News 210, SVR-based Steam Locomotive Mileage 2017-2019, Duncan Ballard