Great Western, King Class 4-6-0s (ePub)
From Construction to Withdrawal
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Built by Collett in 1927 after pressure to restore the GWR’s pre-eminence in motive power and cope with increasing traffic post-war to the Devon and Cornwall holiday resorts, the thirty Kings were the final development of the Churchward Stars and the 1923 Castles and remained on top-link main line duty until their final replacement by the ‘Western’ class 52 diesel hydraulics in 1962. The book includes an insight into the thinking of some of Collett’s senior staff at the end of the 1930s and the eventual transformation in the latter years with redraughting and double chimneys. As well as describing their design and construction, the book covers comprehensively their operation and performance backed up by many recorded logs on all main GW/WR routes over which they were permitted. The author had close experience of the class when working at Old Oak Common between 1957 and 1962 and includes a chapter of his experiences with them including many footplate trips (as a management trainee, he was greeted with glee by many firemen who would hand him the shovel). The book includes over 300 photographs of which 100 are in colour.
The series on GWR locomotives has reached its logical conclusion with the publication of David Maidments epic volume on the Great Western King Class 4-6-0s. Once again through his membership of the Great Western Society (GWS) at Didcot he has been able to access a veritable 'Aladdin's cave' of previously unseen King photographs not only those held by the Great Western Trust, but others from numerous collections, many of which have never been seen in print before. The volume takes a similar format as other books in the series (albeit some by different authors)Richard Abbey - 6024 Preservation Society
The book takes the reader through a brief introductory background of the Stars and Castles from whence the kings were spawned and C B Collett the CME charged by the GW board to come up with a yet more powerful locomotive. Chapters on design and construction are followed by those discussing the impact of their introduction with a brief trip to the USA with No 6000.
Numerous fresh photos illustrate the chapters on the class’s heyday in the 1930s and then their work during WW2. Nationalisation is covered as is the class’s ‘Swan song‘ during the late 1950’s with improved drafting, double chimneys and mechanical lubricators. These improvements saw out the class ‘On a high’ never to be relegated to menial or goods work.
Personal experiences with every member of the class in the 1950’s and early 60’s of the author make very interesting reading and graphically demonstrates what a King in fine fettle was capable of even right at the end of their lives.
The chapter on Preservation concentrates on the three preserved members of the class, the iconic No 6000 King George V, No 6024 King Edward I and with rather more coverage, (probably as a thank you to the GW Trust for making their photographic collection available for reproduction). No 6023 Kind Edward II. Appendices, a bibliography (which could have been larger) and a useful index completes the 272 pages of a superb record of this iconic class, which many Great Western enthusiasts consider the epitome of Swindon engineering.
I must at this stage declare an interest, in that I was honoured to be asked, as Chairman of the 6024 Preservation Society Ltd to write the books forward. 6024 has just passed its In frames steam test following its third and most thorough overhaul in preservation and will return to the Mainline in early 2023.
"A definite plus are the 300 or so photos, 100 of them in colour, which are as evocative as they are useful."ENGINEERING in MINIATURE - October 2021
Throughout the book, we are treated to a huge number of illustrations of locos at work throughout the life of the class, and culminating with the preserved examples which can still be enjoyed on preserved railways and the main line.West Somerset Railway Association
This is an excellent overview of one of Britain’s best-loved locomotive classes.
Overall, this is a “must-have” book for Western enthusiasts. The subject is covered very comprehensively, and all chapters are copiously illustrated with excellent photos, many of which are full-page – a mixture of shed & station shots, and typical front-three-quarter views on expresses. As ever, Pen-and-Sword’s production quality is excellent, with heavy glossy paper, fine strong binding, heavy board covers and a well-designed dust-cover. The landscape format suits railway photos very well.Bradford Railway Circle
Great documentary work.Miniaturas JM
Read the full Spanish review here
Featured inThe Society of Model and Experimental Engineers Journal, April 2021
Review by Philip BenhamThe Journal of the Friends of the National Railway Museum, Winter 2020/2021
As one has come to expect from David Maidment, this is a very professional, well-researched and important book that brings a fresh perspective to the life and work of these impressive locomotives. It will have wide appeal, not just to King aficionados, but also the many with a serious interest in steam traction.
No GWR fan should be without this superb volume – well worth adding to the bookshelf.Railways Illustrated, April 2021
Review by Roger BackhouseYork Model Engineers newsletter
Much to like in this account of a powerful locomotive class, much promoted by the Great Western Railway.
In true Maidment style, the stirring history of these locomotives is supported with detailed technical descriptions and performance tables...Great Western Society
... One aspect that really sets this book apart is the chapter on David Maidment's personal experiences of every member of the class; surely not even O S Nock could have matched that! Add a fabulous array of photos, many superb ones in colour from the likes of Derek Penney, and you have a first class book.
As featured byRailway and Canal Historical Society's journal
The history of the GWR King Class locomotives have been told in previous books. But these are now out of print and Maidment’s volume is a very welcome and authoritative work which will interest anyone with an interest in express mainline steam locomotives. Recommended.Books on the Line
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A good book to know these "real" locomotives.Unos Cuantos Trenes
Read the full Spanish review here
Another great book in the series that is a must for those who want the full history of this class of locomotive. Highly recommendedJames Simmonds