Last updated 21st January 2018 by John Rutter - email webmaster

2859 in her heyday

Above: 2859 in her heyday hauls a mixed freight on 14th May 1964. The location is the 'up' main line at Kennington Junction, Oxford. (RHG Simpson)

2859, like the rest of her class, hauled heavy freight trains, mainly from coalfields and steel works right across the old GWR system. 2859 worked on occasions from the old Brymbo Steel works (near to Wrexham), particularly in the 1940s. Occasionally the 28xx hauled passenger trains in emergencies and examples were seen sometimes with express headcodes, for example from Shrewsbury.

Our locomotive was the last locomotive repaired at the Stafford Road Works, Wolverhampton, on 14th February 1964. At the time she was given new coupling and connecting rods (long disappeared at Barry!). The smokebox and boiler were painted up for the semi-official works photos that were taken. Stafford Road was a major locomotive works that built GWR engines in the nineteenth and early 20th centuries.

2859 was officially withdrawn December 1964. From the period between April 1964 and December 1964, 2859 worked from Cardiff East Dock and finally Southall. There are reports that it was brought back into service for a few days in January 1965 at Southall. 2859 was one of the last 3 Churchward 28xx class engines to be withdrawn. Our engine travelled 1,345,561 miles before official withdrawal. She may have also hauled trains a few hundred miles in January 1965 before she travelled 130 miles to Woodham's scrapyard at Barry.

2859 at Barry

Above: 2859 awaits rescue from Woodhams scrapyard at Barry. Appropriately enough it is surrounded with mineral wagons of the type she hauled from 1918 to 1964. (Charles Cooksley)

In 1987, the Llangollen Railway Great Western Locomotive Group bought 2859 from Woodham's Scrap yard at Barry. Since then, 2859 has been cosmetically restored, and is at present in Llangollen yard. The GWR group is presently restoring its other locomotive 5532.


2859 heads past
Sutton Bridge, 6/4/1962

Above: 2859 heads a Southbound freight past Sutton Bridge signalbox, Shrewsbury, on 6th April 1964. (D.K.Jones collection)

2859 is a GWR heavy freight engine of the 28xx class built at Swindon in May 1918, to a design of George Jackson Churchward's dating from 1903. The engine cost £4,992 when new and £956 for the tender; in the year 2000 £6000 will just about buy two large connecting rods! Engines of the type were produced in batches from 1905 onwards, and on 25th February 1906, an engine of the class hauled 2,010 tons on a test train. This steam haulage record in Britain lasted from 1906 to the 1980s, when 9F 92203 Black Prince (by then preserved) pulled a train of over 2200 tons. In all, 84 engines were built to Churchward`s design. From 1937 to 1942 a further batch of 83 was built with enlarged cabs and outside steam pipes to modified designs by Charles Collett.

New Picture of 2859 in operation before withdrawal.. The picture is thought to  have been taken  near Reading. Has anyone any further information - Please contact the Webmaster.                 Photo: Bob Gordon Collection

Shed Allocations



11th May 1918

Old Oak Common


3rd September 1921

Newport Ebbw Junction


12th November 1923

Severn Tunnel Junction


5th May 1927

St. Philip's Marsh


9th March 1929

Old Oak Common


14th November 1931



November 1933



December 1934

St. Philip's Marsh


21st October 1936

St. Philip's Marsh



Severn Tunnel Junction


April 1951

Cardiff (Canton)


September 1957

Pontypool Road


16th December 1959


December 1964




2nd November 1987

Principal Dimensions

Wheel arrangement


Power classification

E / 8F

Nominal tractive effort

35,380 lbs

Weight (including tender)

119 tons

Wheel diameters

4'7½", 3'2"


Two 18½" x 30"

Boiler pressure


Valve gear


Route Availability


The Llangollen Railway GWR Loco Group

2859 and 5532 were bought from Barry in 1987 by the GWR loco group, who are undertaking their restorations. At present 5532 is the focus of attention, and resides in Llangollen shed; for the future the group has bought many thousand pounds' worth of parts for 2859 including complete sets of rods, back head cab fittings and so on.

You can help the group by becoming a shareholder in the locomotives - from £25 - which entitles you to a free trip on the first train hauled by either locomotive; a share certificate; photographs of both locomotives and free newsletters.

If you would like to know more about the group, or would like to help with restoration, either financially or physically, please get in touch:

Charles Cooksley

21 Allanson Road

Rhos On Sea

Colwyn Bay


LL28 4HN

2859 in her heyday

Above: 2859 seen at Didcot on 26th February 1939. (Mark Hoofe)

2859 after cosmetic restoration into black livery outside the GWR Goods Shed in Llangollen Yard in 1989

Photo John Rutter

2859 in Llangollen Yard after rescue from Barry

2859 was purchased by a new owner with the intention of rebuilding the loco. It moved out of Llangollen Yard at the end of November 2017 and is now safely located in its new home.

2859 on a low-loader and moving out of Llangollen Yard on 30th November 2017

Photos - George Jones