I have written before about the standardisation of the GWR locomotives. That is probably one of the great legacies of the railway.
This was demonstrated to me by a number of things last weekend during a visit to Didcot.
I had spent the previous week doing an intensive training course and my brain was quite broken by Friday so I took myself off, staying the night in Reading and then spending the day in Didcot on the Saturday.
One of the reasons I wanted to go to Didcot was to see progress on the County. With my particular favourite flavour of GWR being Hawksworth I was intrigued to see the new build project. It is starting to look a mighty impressive machine and with a tractive effort comparable with a Castle is really was the ultimate 2 cylinder 4-6-0 of the GWR.
Unfortunately for the casual visitor the loco is stuck at the back of the workshop and is difficult to see but the accommodating volunteers of the GWS gave me a quick tour so I could see it and then shows me into the lifting shed where, apart from the 50 ton lifting crane which in itself is impressive, there was the new Saint, Lady of Legend.
Both these locos exist due to standardisation of the GWR where the Saint started off being Maindy Hall and then was reverse engineered back into a Saint; the County uses the frames from Modified Hall, Willington Hall, and the tender components from the Hall’s Collett tender and the firebox has been donated from an 8F boiler. Impressively, the loco will be fitted with an original County chimney from 1006 County of Cornwall which was sold to the project “for a couple of hundred quid” from an old boy who had kept it in his shed.
Back in the running shed I was having a good look at Modified Hall, Button Agnes Hall, (which is a stately home a few miles from the Patriarch and Matriarch’s house), and particularly looking at the rods – I tend to do this because you get to see what else the components have belonged to with the railways’ habit of stamping the loco number of the components.
In this case the LH connecting rod had the numbers 6998, 2887, and 7815 stamped on it. 6998 is Burton Agnes Hall, 2887 was a Churchward 28xx 2-8-0 goods loco, and 7815 was a Manor Class, Fritwell Manor.
So here is standardisation to the level where the distance between the cylinders and the driven axle is the same on 3 very different classes of locomotive.