Project information

Great Western Society 47XX Project

The Project is building a new example of G J Churchward's final masterpiece, the 47XX 2-8-0, using many genuine ex-GWR parts. The completed locomotive will operate at Didcot Railway Centre and on suitable heritage railways around the UK, recreating part of railway history that had been lost.

It is hoped to complete within five years.

Charity information: Great Western Society Limited

Great Western Society Limited logo
  • Need


    Although only nine examples of Churchward's 47XX 2-8-0 were built between 1919 and 1923, they were outstanding performers which heralded a new era of large and powerful locomotives capable of handling a wide range of tasks. All the locomotives survived into the 1960s but sadly none were preserved. The 47XX is a significant gap in the outstanding collection of GWR design locomotives preserved by the Great Western Society at Didcot Railway Centre.


    The primary aim of the Project is to build a new example of the GWR 47XX class using some surviving original parts and many new components. The completed locomotive will take be operated at Didcot Railway Centre and on suitable heritage railways around the UK. It will be built to main line running standards and will occasionally be operated on suitable British main lines, subject to acceptance by the national network.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To build a new example of the Great Western Railway 47XX 2-8-0 locomotive.


    » Harness the expertise of individuals within the Great Western Society and of other groups and bodies within the railway preservation movement.
    » Maximise usage of British manufacturing industries which still have the expertise to produce key components.
    » Involve skilled individuals and apprentices to help perpetuate skills which may otherwise disappear.

    What success will look like

    Success will be... completing a new example of the GWR 47XX class within a period of around five years.

  • Impact


    The project will fill a significant gap in the preservation of Great Western Railway locomotive designs and will enable a better understanding of the thinking of one of Britain's greatest 20th century engineers.

    Success will be measured not only by the number of visitors who come to see the finished engine at Didcot Railway Centre (it's normal home), but also by the number of heritage railways and museums which the locomotive will visit.


    There could be a funding shortfall for some of the most expensive components (such as the new and unique boiler). The risk of this is being mitigated not only by fostering close links will all who have expressed interest as major donors in the past, but by sourcing as many of the larger standard GWR parts as possible from condemned locomotives.


    Donors above a certain level will be thanked individually and personally, while all donors can elect to receive email press releases on progress of the project. The entire community will be able to follow the project on its website,

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £900,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £200,000 Rolling chassis Frames, bearings, springs, axles, wheelsets, pony truck, cylinders.
      £400,000 New boiler Manufacturing a new GWR No 7 boiler.
      £60,000 New driving wheelset Manufacturing one new driving wheelset to add to three sets recovered from condemned locomotives.
      £150,000 Motion and fittings Manufacturing motion parts, boiler and small fittings as required.
      £90,000 Tender Refurbishment of tender, construction of new tank and dragbox.

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    General contributors £50,000 Conditional
  • Background


    While final assembly will be carried out at Didcot Railway Centre (the final home of the locomotive), components are being manufactured widely. The new mainframes have been cut and machined in the West Midlands and work to achieve a rolling chassis is being undertaken by the Llangollen Railway


    Anyone with an interest in science, engineering or transport history will be able to experience a seminal locomotive which is not currently represented in preservation. As part of the wider exhibit at Didcot Railway Centre, where the Science, Learning & Railways programme involves children at Key Stages 1, 2 and 3, the new 47XX will particularly help to interpret the history of fast, overnight freight services in the UK.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Great Western Society has an outstanding record of success in restoring locomotives, rolling stock and other equipment thought to be beyond salvation. For the recent restoration of a King class engine, a new pair of driving wheels had to be made - similar to the 47XX Project - and a completely new steam engine unit was built for the restoration of a 1908 steam railmotor. Exceptional skills are available within the Society, which also has many links to accomplished external bodies.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Richard Croucher

    Richard is the Chairman of the Great Western Society. He has been a highly successful coordinator and fund raiser for many projects.

    Dennis Howells MBE

    Overall engineering manager for the Project. Dennis is an accomplished engineer who has masterminded many successful projects for the GWS.

    Paul Carpenter

    Paul is the project manager, coordinating activities of the team and working parties.

    Don Ashton

    Don is a retired engineer who is now spending much of his time managing complex aspects of this large project.