The history page contains not only details of the history of No. 2807, but also a brief history of the Great Western Railway, including some of its famous stations at Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads, and also its distinguished engineers such as Brunel, Gooch, Dean, Churchward and Collett.

The history of No. 2807 includes taking part in the Jellicoe Specials, withdrawal by British Railways in 1963, and being rescued in 1981 followed by restoration.  On top of that, identical sister No. 2808 was the locomotive on a record breaking freight train in 1906.

Great Western Railway

The Great Western Railway (G.W.R.) was initially launched in the early 1830's to build a line from London (Paddington) to Bristol (Temple Meads). This was followed by lines to Bath, Windsor, Basingstoke, Hungerford, Oxford and Gloucester. Eventually the empire spread to much of the South West of England, and most of Wales.

Brunel had proposed a gauge of 7ft for the G.W.R. instead of the 'standard' gauge of 4ft 81/2in. Brunel thought that the broad gauge would allow trains to travel faster and in greater safety. Early lines were all built to the broad gauge, but due to difficulties transferring people and goods from broad gauge trains to standard-gauge trains used by other railway companies, notably at Gloucester, Brunel's broad gauge was progressively replaced by standard gauge. The last broad-gauge line was converted by 1892.


Steam locomotive No. 2807 was built by the G.W.R. at Swindon and completed in October 1905, as part of the initial batch of the G.W.R. 28xx class (sometimes known as 2800 class) of 2-8-0 heavy freight engines.

Let's put this into context with some other dates.

1899-1902 Britain fought the Boer War.
1901  King Edward VII succeeded Queen Victoria.
1903 Wilbur and Orville Wright, first powered aeroplane flight.
1905 Einstein published special theory of relativity.
1905 G.W.R. No. 2807 Built.
1908 Ford introduced the Model T.
1909 Louis Bleriot, first flight across the English Channel.
1909 First expedition reached the North Pole.
1910 King George V succeeded King Edward VII.
1911 First expedition reached the South Pole.
1912 Titanic sank.
1914-1918 First World War.
1918 British women over the age of 30 allowed to vote.
1919 Worldwide influenza pandemic kills 30 million.
1920s Television invented.
1923 Flying Scotsman entered traffic.
1926 Classic K2 red telephone kiosk introduced.
1927 G.W.R. 'King' class locomotives introduced.
1928 British women over the age of 21 allowed to vote.
1931 Diagrammatic London underground map introduced.
1934 Catseye patented.
1935 First radar tested.
1936 First flight of Supermarine Spitfire.
1939-1945 Second World War.
1956 London Routemaster bus introduced.
1957 Sputnik, first man-made object to leave Earth's atmosphere.
1959 BMC Mini car launched.
1963 G.W.R. No. 2807 withdrawn from service.
1969 First flight of Concorde.
1969 First men land on the moon.
1981 G.W.R. No. 2807 rescued from scrapyard at Barry.
1989 World Wide Web completed.
2003 Last flight of Concorde.

The G.W.R. benefited from a series of excellent engineers. Although Isambard Kingdom Brunel is probably the most famous of all G.W.R. engineers, others such as Sir Daniel Gooch, Joseph and George Armstrong, William Dean, George Jackson Churchward, Charles Collett and Frederick Hawksworth were very impressive.

The 28xx class was designed during the period when Churchward was Chief Mechanical Engineer of the G.W.R. Under his stewardship, nine highly successful locomotive types, with maximum component standardisation, were introduced. Boilers, cylinders, pistons, wheels etc. were standardised and interchangeable between classes. Churchward's design practices were ahead of their time. They were adopted by Chief Mechanical Engineers of other railways and were still in use as late as 1947.


On 26 February 1906, identical sister locomotive No. 2808 hauled a record-breaking train from Swindon to Acton. The trainload of coal was made up of 20 twenty ton, 6 twelve ton, 78 ten ton, 2 nine ton and 1 eight ton capacity coal wagons. Assembled at Swindon, the whole train totalled 2012 tons, including the dynamometer car and brake van. This record by a production locomotive stood during the whole steam era, surpassed only by the one-off prototype G.W.R. locomotive The Great Bear which hauled 2375 tons in 1909.

Early Years

Following early shed allocations to Westbourne Park and Old Oak Common in the Paddington area, in 1911 No. 2807 embarked upon eight years of coal traffic in South Wales, operating first from Aberdare and later Pontypool Road.

The first World War saw No. 2807 performing on the famous "Jellicoe Specials", hauling Welsh steam coal destined for the Grand Fleet at Scappa Flow. GWR 28xx class engines worked the South Wales to Lancashire section of this round the clock service.

Later Years

After the First World war, No. 2807 moved to Bristol and later, in 1924 to Tyseley, from where she is believed to have frequently visited the Stratford - Cheltenham main line, passing through Broadway, Toddington and Winchcombe. Subsequent pre-nationalisation shed allocations included Newton Abbot, Bristol St Philips Marsh, Llanelli, Wolverhampton Stafford Road, Cardiff (Canton) and Hereford.

After she moved to Worcester in 1951, No. 2807 once again became a frequent visitor to the Stratford - Cheltenham main line. After brief postings to Chester, Newport (Ebbw Junction) and Newton Abbott, No. 2807 moved to her final allocation, Severn Tunnel Junction, in April 1960.


It was from Severn Tunnel Junction, with 1,472,687 miles "on the clock" and over 57 years of use, that No. 2807 was withdrawn in March 1963.

No. 2807 was taken to the famous Barry scrap yard in November 1963, and remained there for over 17 years.


The locomotive was rescued in June 1981 by its current owners, Cotswold Steam Preservation Limited (C.S.P.).

This heavy freight locomotive is now the oldest Great Western engine in private hands. There are only 2 older surviving GWR locos, the Dean Goods, and City of Truro, and they are both in the national collection.

2807's Sisters

There were 167 2-8-0s built by the Great Western Railway.  Numbers 2800 to 2883 were to Churchward's design, followed by 2884 to 3866 which were to a slightly modified Collett design. Of these 2-8-0s, 16 survived into preservation, thanks mainly to Dai Woodham at Barry scrapyard.

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