When Charles Benjamin Collett became Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1922, after the death of G J Churchward he continued with Churchward’s programme of standardisation. Taking several earlier Churchward designs he developed them into more powerful and efficient locomotives. The 4-6-0 configured Hall Class locomotive was based on Churchward’s ‘Saint’ Class but given larger 6′ driving wheels, a higher pitched boiler, two outside 15.Y.” cylinders and a modified footplate.
The first locomotive was outshopped from GWR Swindon Works in 1924, numbered as 4900 and began three years of trials, which Collett used as a basis for further improvements and modifications, including outside steam pipes. The result was a powerful, reliable locomotive capable of a wide range of work. Once Collett was satisfied, production began and the ‘Halls’, also known as Class 4900, entered service in 1928. The 63′ long locomotive weighed 75 tons, plus a 46 ton 14 cwt tender. The first 14 ‘Halls’ outshopped were sent to work on the difficult terrain of the Cornish mainline but proved so successful that they were soon in traffic elsewhere on the GWR network.
The first 42 built had Churchward type 3,500 gallon tenders but numbers 4943 – 4957 were fitted with Collett type, 4,000 gallon tenders. A total of 259 of the Class were built between 1928 and 1943 at the GWR Swindon Works. All but the first locomotive No. 4900 were named after ‘Halls’ and all of the Class passed to British Railways in 1948 except No. 4911 ‘Bowden Hall’ which had been damaged beyond repair during an air raid in April 1940.
Withdrawals began with number 4900, which had covered 2,092,500 miles, in April 1959 from Old Oak Common shed. The last of the Class had been withdrawn by December 1965. A total of II of the Class have been preserved after being rescued from Woodham Brothers’ scrap yard in South Wales.
DCC Type: DCC Ready
Operator/Livery: BR Lined Green
Designer: Charles Collett
Entered Service: 1942
Age Suitability: 3+
Purpose: Mixed Traffic
Wheel Configuration: 4-6-0