ACE Trains E/37 GWR Churchward 2-6-0 Mogul
Whilst possessing some of the country’s best-known crack express locomotives, the Great Western Railway (GWR) was a pioneer of many locomotive types in the Edwardian era. With the GWR was renowned for its rebuilding of earlier classes G.J. Churchward recognised the need for a larger but robust engine class for mixed traffic duties across its diverse geographic territory particularly in Devon and Cornwall where there many sharp curves. Whilst there had been some experimentation in the early 1900s with the Aberdare 2-6-0 double-framed class designed principally for goods work, the net output was the 43XX Class, a class of 2-6-0 (Mogul) engine designed for both passenger and freight operations. Both Aberdare and the Mogul 2-6-0 types were capable of hauling passenger trains up to 70 mph so ideal for mixed work duties.
According to GWR historian Colin Maggs, ‘It was rumoured that Churchward had seen the Midland & South Western Junction Railway’s 2-6-0s at work on Swindon’s other line.’ Purportedly he was most impressed and wanted some like it. And most certainly he did, with a total of 342 built from 1911 to 1932 in six separate production lots. Maggs goes on: ‘The Churchward 2-6-0 proved a highly versatile engine, a maid of all work, capable of travelling over most lines and handling goods or passenger trains, even expresses.’ With different phases of production minor modifications were made over the years including locomotive stretching which precluded their operation from some routes.
Due to its versatility the 2-6-0 class was around for many years with some of the earlier members being withdrawn in the later 1930s as newer Grange and Manor classes proved more adept and efficient. The war years halted the withdrawal programme but is resumed following nationalisation. Six members of the class survived until 1964 and the end of steam on Western Region in 1964. Two Swindon built members have survived into preservation though.