At the commencement of the 20th Century, the Great Western Railway was in need of motive power capable of dispersing trainloads of coal from the South Wales collieries, the existing 0-6-0 and 2-6-0 designs of the day proving inadequate. By 1903, Churchward had built a prototype 2-8-0 design, number 97 (to be renumbered as 2800 in 1906), the first locomotive in the UK to utilise this wheel arrangement. Production of the 2800 class of locomotives commenced in 1905 and detail modifications took place during the build, totalling 84 locomotives. Twenty years after the last of the Churchward designed 2800 locomotives had been built, Collett, Churchward's successor as Chief Mechanical Engineer at the GWR, when he recognised the need for more heavy freight locos, created the 2884 class. This was effectively a 2800 with minor modifications. Visually, the most obvious change was the use of external steam pipes (which were retro-fitted to many of the 2800 class locos), a tool tunnel on the fireman's side running plate and the addition of cabside windows.
The specification for the 2884 locos was as follows:
Driving wheel diameter 4' 7.5"
Cylinders 18.5" x 30"
Axle load 17 tons
Total locomotive weight 76 tons
Water capacity 3500 gallons
Coal capacity 6 tons
Firegrate area 27 sq ft
Tractive effort (85%) 35,380 lb
3850 was amongst the last to be built, entering traffic in June 1942 and surviving in servce until practically the very end of steam on the Western Region of British Railways in August 1965.
|3850 at just one year old, 2/5/43 on a goods train from South Wales at Hatton Junction. Copyright Kidderminster Railway Museum|
|3850 at Aberdare shed in 1962, photographer unknown|
|5/4/52 at Ashley Hill near Bristol on an unfitted express freight. At this time she was allocated to 82B, St Philip's Marsh, Copyright Kidderminster Railway Museum|
|Climbing Wellington Bank, with a down goods, Copyright Kidderminster Railway Museum|
|Passing through Gloucester Central Station, January 1964, Copyright Tony Bowles|
|Summer 1961 at Trowbridge, photographer unknown|
|Approaching Stoke Gifford 27/1/58. Copyright Kidderminster Railway Museum|
|Express Passenger at Newton Abbot (heading south), photographer unknown|
|Once again caught on a passenger turn 6/6/57 near Newbury, photo copyright R.M.Casserley|
The occasional foray from freight working aside, 3850 managed to keep out of the limelight until September 1965, when it was seen at Brymbo steelworks with an iron ore train, despite it having been withdrawn a month earlier! By the end of 1965 the loco was in Barry scrapyard and there she stayed until March 1984, when she became the 151st loco to leave.
|At Barry, 1973, photographer unknown|
|Arriving at the West Somerset Railway, 1984, photographer unknown|