A member of the 2884 class, 2-8-0 no 3803 was completed at the Great Western Railway’s Swindon factory in January 1939 at a cost of £4285, including £1147 for the boiler.

For book-keeping purposes, the cost of her tender is recorded as being £1884, but she was coupled with 1923-built tender no 2218 when completed, which would have cost around £1000 when new. The GWR at the time was hoping for a large share in a probable Government grant for building new engines for the war effort at the outbreak of the war, which had formerly been intended for the GPO, and this is thought to have accounted for the unusual price of the tender.

C.B. Collett’s 2884 class is a development of G. J. Churchward’s highly capable 28xx class of heavy freight locomotives of 1903 which were the first engines to pull 2000 tons, a remarkable feat for the time.

3803 spent most of her time plodding round the GWR system on heavy freight trains, being shedded first at Tyseley, then Banbury, Southall and Cardiff Canton, before finishing her days at Severn Tunnel Junction.

After a service life covering 726,770 miles, she was withdrawn in July 1963 and sent to Woodham’s scrapyard in Barry. Rescued in November 1983, she came to Buckfastleigh where, after a lengthy overhaul, she returned to steam in 2005. Having cost less than £5000 to build, her restoration cost in excess of £350,000!


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