John Speller's Web Pages Churchward 44xx Class Prairie Tank

John Speller's Web Pages

Churchward 44xx Class Prairie Tank
Driving wheels – 4’ 1½”, Cylinders – 17”x 24”, Pressure – 180 lb., Tractive effort – 21,440 lb., Weight – 56 tons 13 cwt. Notwithstanding that the “45xx” Class “Small Prairies” had a boiler pressure of 200 psi. over against 180 psi. for the “44xx", the smaller wheels of the latter gave it a slight edge in power. It might have proved useful in suburban workings, where it should have been able to display rapid acceleration between frequent stops. In practice, however, the “44xx” Class were intended for and mostly used in hilly districts, notably the Princetown and Much Wenlock Branches. The prototype was built at Swindon in 1904, initially numbered 115, and then renumbered 4400 when a further batch of ten, Nos. 4401-4409 were built at Wolverhampton, but the design was not perpetuated beyond these eleven locomotives. All were withdrawn and scrapped between 1949 and 1955, mostly replaced by Hawksworth’s newly-designed “16xx” Class of 4’ 1½” pannier tanks.

GWR official photograph of Churchward prototype “44xx” Class 2-6-2T No. 115 (later No. 4400) as built at Swindon in 1904. The locomotive was originally assigned to Newport shed in Monmouthshire. The “44xx” Class were later modified with extended bunkers, top feeds and outside steam pipes
Outline drawing of prototype Churchward 2-6-2T No. 115 (later No. 4400) as built in Swindon in 1904.
Wolverhampton-built “44xx” Class No. 4401 operating the Much Wenlock branch train at Wellington (Salop) in the early 1950s
No. 4402 awaiting scrapping at Swindon in 1950. Image © copyright Ben Brooksbank and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License
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