Following the successful introduction of the two-cylinder Saint class 4-6-0 locomotives in 1902, the Great Western Railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer, George Jackson Churchward, became interested in developing a more powerful four cylinder type for the longer non-stop express services, especially with the proposed increase in train weights and speed schedules that were part of the GWR’s plans for the end of the decade..
Churchward was impressed by the French compound 4-4-2 locomotives and persuaded the GWR Board to purchase three examples for comparative trials. These trials showed that whilst the Saints were as efficient as the French engines (in particular a De Glehn built by Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques), the four cylinder design resulted in a smoother ride at high speed.
Churchward built and tested his own prototype four cylinder simple-expansion locomotive, built as a 4-4-2 but designed so that it could easily be converted to a 4-6-0. Built at Swindon under Lot 161 in April 1906, it was numbered as No.40 and later named 'North Star'. The new design incorporated many ideas from the French locomotives including a domeless, tapered boiler and Belpaire firebox and had divided drive, with the outside cylinders using Stephenson valve gear and connected to the second set of driving wheels, whilst the inside cylinders used Walschaerts valve gear and were connected to the front set of driving wheels.
The first production ‘Star’ class locomotive, No.4001 ‘Dog Star’, was built in 1907 and received a revised 4-6-0 wheel arrangement to improve adhesion. In all, 72 Star class locomotives were built in seven batches until 1923, when they were superseded by the larger and more powerful ‘Castle‘ class. In service, as anticipated by Churchward, the ‘Stars’ proved better suited to high-speed express trains than the ‘Saints’ and their reputation quickly grew, no other locomotive in the Great Britain being able to match the performance figures of the class. The ‘Stars’ cost more to build, maintain and service than the ‘Saints’, but quickly established themselves as the Great Western Railway’s flagship locomotive class.
Between 1925 and 1940, fifteen ‘Stars’ were converted to the ‘Castle’ class design, but the rest of the class continued in service relatively unmodified, although it was only during the period between 1925 and 1927 that the class appeared in any sort of uniform appearance. To add further to changes in external appearance, tenders of 3000, 3500 and 4000 gallon capacity were paired with the locomotives.
The first to be withdrawn was No.4016 ‘The Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s)’ from Old Oak Common shed in October 1925, followed by fifteen more locomotives, to leave just 47 engines to enter British Rail ownership in January 1948. The class survived until October 1957 when the final member, No.4056 ‘Princess Margaret’, was withdrawn from Bristol Bath Road Shed.
No. 4013 ‘Knight of St. Patrick’ was from the second batch of ‘Stars’, built at GWR’s Swindon Works as Works No.2302, to Lot 173, in March 1908 and allocated to Old Oak Common initially. Built with improved, french style bogies, modifications followed in December 1910 when a half-cone boiler and No.3 superheater was fitted, although the locomotive reverted to a full-cone boiler in September 1915.
R3455 GWR, Star Class, 4-6-0, 4013 'Knight of St. Patrick' - Era 3
DCC Type DCC Ready Operator/Livery GWR, Lined Green Class Star Designer George Jackson Churchward Age Suitability 14+ Purpose Express Passenger Wheel Configuration 4-6-0
- NEM Couplings