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Great Western Castle Class 4-6-0 Locomotives – 1923 - 1959 (Hardback)

P&S History > By Century > 20th Century Transport > Trains & Railways

By David Maidment, Bob Meanley
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Series: Locomotive Portfolios
Pages: 312
Illustrations: 30 Colour, 300 mono integrated
ISBN: 9781399095303
Published: 16th November 2022



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The Great Western Castles were one of the most successful locomotive designs of the twentieth century in terms of both performance and efficiency. Designed by Charles Collett in 1923, based on the 1907 Churchward ‘Star’ class, 155 were constructed almost continuously, apart from the war years, between 1923 and 1950, in addition to fifteen rebuilt ‘Stars’ and one rebuilt from the Great Bear pacific. Many were modernised with increased superheat and double-chimneys in the late 1950s and the class continued to be the mainstay of all Western Region express passenger services to the West Country, South Wales, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and the West Midlands until replaced by the WR diesel hydraulic fleet in the early 1960s. This book covers their design in a chapter written by Bob Meanley, who masterminded the restoration at Tyseley Works of the Castles Earl of Mount Edgcumbe and Clun Castle, and their history, operation and performance from the high speed of the 1930s through to their rejuvenation in the 1950s, leaving experience of their last years and preservation to another volume. David Maidment had close experience of the class when working at Old Oak Common between 1957 and 1962 and includes his personal experiences there and on the road from his first encounter with one as a six-year old boy. The book includes 350 photographs, some 40 in colour, and 23 detailed Swindon technical drawings.

“…for the many who loved the class, as did the author who recalls them as his favourite, this is also a book to buy”.

. Model Engineer – Vol. 231 No. 4728 - 20 October – 2 November 2023

This is a remarkable book by two remarkable authors with a genuine wealth of knowledge about these locomotives. It must be THE definitive work on Castle class locomotives and their remarkable story. If you were a modeller wanting to build a particular locomotive, then this book is a must and will enable you to tie down details that make your model unique.

All in all this is a superb book for any GWR Castle enthusiast and especially one with aspirations to model their favourite Castle locomotive. This is a major and significant work by David Maidment and Bob Meanley, and I congratulate them on telling such an exciting and comprehensive story, which combines their knowledge and enthusiasm so engagingly.

I commend this book to our readers who have a soft spot for GWR steam.

The Society of Model and Experimental Engineers Newsletter - July 2023

"Every GWR modeller and enthusiast should get a copy."

Great Western Study Group's Newsletter

"....well presented and benefit from David Maidment’s usual lively and interesting narrative, providing a definitive account of these highly successful locomotives that are so important to the story the express passenger locomotive. It can be too easy to describe books as ‘essential reading’ but in this case for anyone interested in GWR locomotives, or indeed the wider development of the British steam engine, this is without doubt the case."

NRM Review no. 183 - The Journal of the Friends of the National Railway Museum

As featured by

The Broad Gauge Society

"For the many who loved the class, as did the author who names them his favourite, this is also a book to buy."

Welsh Railways Research Circle Spring newsletter

Covering the final five years from 1960, this copiously-illustrated work draws on the author’s experience at Old Oak Common, including firing and timing the 4-6-0s. Peer reviewed by Bob Meanley and John Hodge, this very readable mix of timing logs and facts (including tabulated locomotive details) shows the best, very best – and occasionally worst – that the ‘Castles’ and their crews could do. Recommended.

Trackside magazine

FOR FOLLOWERS of Pen & Sword’s excellent ‘Locomotive Portfolios’ series, this is the one GWR fans have been waiting for. Like many of the other ‘Portfolio’ volumes, this one has been authored by David Maidment, but in this case he has joined forces with Bob Meanley who brings real engineering gravitas, contributing much about the design and technical history of this iconic class.

Many books have been written about the ‘Castles’ over the years and some have become valued reference works, but this one stands apart, largely due to the firsthand experience and strong personal involvement of the authors.

Every member of the class is showcased here, including the rebuilds from ‘Stars’ and The Great Bear, and all the technical text is clear and easy to absorb, amplified by exquisitely reproduced engineering drawings. Each era of development, right through to the 7000-series ‘Super Castles’, is portrayed by hundreds of superb photographs, many of which I had never seen before. This and the following volumes are the only books on ‘Castles’ you will ever need.

Great Western Society - The Great Western Echo, Winter 2023

The latest volume in the ‘Locomotive Portfolios’ series is a welcome addition to what is becoming quite an ‘encyclopaedia’ of former Great Western Railway locomotives. Billed as the first of three volumes to cover the 171 locomotives from inception to preservation it does that in depth and with first hand knowledge from both authors who have collaborated to produce a fascinating first volume.

The introduction covers the background history of the class, discussing and illustrating through a clear timeline various locomotive trials and locomotive developments by the gifted G J Churchward. There then follows a treatise of the engineers involved in the almost continuous development of the class from introduction in 1923 to their withdrawal in 1964.

The design chapter is well written by Bob Meanley and illustrated with a number of detailed drawings, his writing style is technical, but easy to follow highlighting in particular, why different front frame layouts resulted in changes in not only inside cylinder castings but the cleaning covers aiding individual class member identification.

The construction and early operation chapter is followed by one on the high speed exploits of the 1930s with a number of running logs. The Second World War and post war running is covered in depth, followed by chapters on the resurgence of the class in the 1950s, the fitting of 4 row superheated boilers to 60 odd class members taking the story up to 1959, tantalisingly leaving their ‘Swan song’ to volume 2!

Personal recollections, which make interesting reading, follow from joint author David Maidment, then ‘Portraits for modellers’ a colour photographic section and then comprehensive appendices and bibliography.

An excellent selection of photographs, many unseen before, from the GWS and MLS collections add to the quality of this first volume. This volume is a worthy addition to any GWR locomotive enthusiasts bookshelf and I look forward to volume 2.

Richard Abbey - 6024 Preservation Society

Another great book in the series. Highly recomended

James Simmonds
 David Maidment

About David Maidment

David Maidment was a senior manager with British Railways, with widespread experience of railway operating on the Western and London Midland Regions culminating in the role of Head of Safety Policy for the BRB after the Clapham Junction train accident. He retired in 1996, was a Principal Railway Safety Consultant with International Risk Management Services from 1996 to 2001 and founded the Railway Children charity (www.railwaychildren.org.uk) in 1995. He was awarded the OBE for services to the rail industry in 1996 and is now a frequent speaker on both the charity and his railway career and author of four novels, two non-fiction works on street children and over eighteen books for Pen & Sword’s locomotive portfolio series, the royalties from all being donated to the charity.

About Bob Meanley

Bob Meanley is a professional mechanical engineer with a lifelong love of steam locomotives and an involvement in the restoration and operation of preserved locomotives going back for almost 55 years. After many years professional involvement with the repair and construction of major power industry pressure vessels he took up a temporary task to turn round the fortunes of Tyseley Locomotive Works in 1994, a passing phase which lasted for 25 years and saw the company turned into one of the UK's foremost repairers of steam locomotives. Whilst he has now passed on that role to his son Alastair, he continues to provide advice on the repair and operation of main line steam locomotives to a wide range of owners, private railways and national institutions.

Perfect Partner

Great Western Castle Class 4-6-0 Locomotives The Final Years 1960- 1965 (Hardback)

The author’s second volume about the Great Western’s classic express locomotives covers their final six years in British Railways service. In 1960 the Castles, many now modernised with double chimneys and 4-row superheaters, were still in charge of most of the Western Region’s expresses, but by the summer of 1963 their regular express work was limited to the London – Worcester route. Their declining numbers in the last couple of years covered special summer and relief trains, parcels and freight work, deputising for failed or unavailable diesels and a flurry of excursions and railtours…

By David Maidment

Click here to buy both titles for £70.00
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