Hope that clarifies things a bit?
Michael L. Roach
The year 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the appearance of the first of the Great Western Railway's Castle Class 4-cylinder express steam locomotives, when 4073 “Caerphilly Castle” rolled out of Swindon Works in August 1923. 155 were built new and 16 were converted from earlier locomotives between August 1927 and August 1950. On 1 January 1962 Laira Shed had five Castles allocated to the shed, as follows:
4087 stored August1962
4095 to Reading September 1962
5029 stored March 1962
5069 withdrawn February 1962
7022 to Hereford November 1963
Thus at the end of 1962 there was just one Castle left at Laira – no. 7022 Hereford Castle which moved from Laira to Hereford. All the photos in this part were taken in 1962 at a time when most express trains to Plymouth were diesel hauled with just a very few steam rosters left. By the end of that year there would be almost no rosters for steam engines on express passenger trains from Newton Abbot and beyond. Of the 171 Castles built there were 151 in service at the start of 1962 and 97 at the end of the year, but many of those were stored.
Other writers are far better better qualified than me to comment on the star qualities of the Castle class. This is what Richard Foster wrote in the October 2023 copy of Steam World: “From 1902 until the late 1920s, the GWR led the way in locomotive development. George Jackson Churchward showed incredible foresight when he combined the latest thinking from France and the United States with his own radical ideas to create a superlative locomotive. What made his vision extra special was that he then used parts to create a standardised range of locomotives in order to cover all traffic requirements. Not only were the designs a success but they were built to a standard that other railways could only dream of.” Praise indeed.
NOTE: Centenary of the Castles (1) was published on this website on 27 February 2023 in 1962 – Part 7
MLR / 30 October 2023
1. 66190 at Middleway Crossing with 16 JIAs working 6G19 1232 Goonbarrow Junction Dbc to Fowey Dock Carne Point.
2. 66190 passing Lostwithiel about to go into the goods loop.
3. The wall at Coulson Park has been recently cleared opening up this shot again.