It’s easy to see why Warner Brothers wanted a GWR 4-6-0 to haul trains to Hogwarts for, despite whatever your alliegence, there’s no getting away from the fact that they look how you imagine a steam locomotive should look. The GWR has a huge enthusiast following so most of its classic 4-6-0s are offered ready-to-run to the latest standard.
So it’s a bit of a surprise that one of the most popular GWR 4-6-0, the ‘Manor’, isn;t part of anyone’s ‘OO’ gauge catalogue and that the last offering, from Bachmann in 20xx, was essentially the ex-Mainline model from 1980. A good model for its day, it certainly lacks behind the standard now set by Bachmann, Hornby and others.
The real thing wasn’t as successful a design as, say, the ‘Hall’ or the ‘Grange’ but Charles Collett’s pretty 4-6-0 made itself at home on some really wonderful bits of railway, most notably the ex-GWR and ex-Cambrian lines in Wales.
Click through Geoff Plumb’s wonderful collection of Cambrian images (https://plumbloco.smugmug.com/Trains/CambrianCoastLines) and you’ll see that every locomotive featured, from the ‘58XX’ to the Standard ‘4MT; 4-6-0 is available in ‘OO’ to modern standards - except the ‘Manor.
Surely it’s time to put that right?
What is it?
Weight restrictions on key secondary lines, such as the Cambrian, prolonged the life of older, lighter locomotives, which really had become life expired by the mid-1930s. GWR Chief Mechanical Engineer Charles Collett designed a solution, which was effectively his ‘Grange’ 4-6-0 with 5ft 8in diameter driving wheels but with a smaller, lighter boiler.
Swindon built 20 in 1938/39, which incorporated parts from withdrawn ‘43XX’ 2-6-0s. BR ordered ten more in 1950.
Although the Cambrian was their main area of work, ‘Manors’ also found use in the London Division, on the old Midland & South Western Junction and in the West Country. Steaming issues were largely cured and the last were withdrawn in december 1965.
What would make it viable?
Detail differences would require only minimal tooling changes, such as the different chimney types that the class carried. That would make a new model fairly economical to produce.
There would be quite a few liveries to produce: GWR ‘shirtbutton’ and GWR initials as well as BR black and BR lined green. There are a couple of odd-ball liveries which would work quite well as limited editions: full 1920s coat of arms livery as carried by BR-built No 7827 Lydham Manor at the Paignton & Dartmouth in the 1980s as well as No. 7816 Frilsham Manor, which retained a heavily weathered tender that still bore the initials GWR until it withdrawal in November 1965.
Can I see a real one?
Nine were preserved: Nos. 7802 Bradley Manor and 7812 Erlestoke Manor at the Severn Valley Railway, No. 7808 Cookham Manor at Didcot Railway Centre and No. 7819 Hinton Manor is displayed at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlets in Swindon. Nos. 7820 Dinmore Manor, 7821 Ditcheat Manor and 7822 Foxcote Manor survive at the Gloucestershire Warwarkshire, West Somerset and Llangollen Railways respectively, whilst Nos. 7827 Lydham Manor and 7828 Odney Manor are in service at the Dartmouth Steam Railway and West Somerset Railway.
What do you think? Comment below and see other thoughts in MR244!