GWR Engines Books

The GWR coined the term ‘railwayacs’ for those who showed an interest in the stock and operation of the railway. To address the many enquiries it received for information about its engines and their names the GWR started to publish booklets. These publications were soon recognised as being valuable publicity and advertising vehicles for the company, and the range of books available for those with an interest in such things grew considerably until the Second World War intervened.

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LOCOMOTIVES of the Great Western Railway

Locomotives of the GWR

12 Photogravure Plates of G.W.R Engines, first published in 1929 and priced one shilling.

This unusual publication was not a book as such, but rather a collection of 12 sepia toned plates each depicting a particular engine with each plate having a transucent cover page upon which was printed pertinent technical information. The whole was bound in an overall cover and held together by a ribbon. Each of the plates had an embossed border and could have been removed for framing. The cover carried an unsigned colour illustration of King George V, which looks to have been derived from a photograph.

The book did not carry any indication as to date or price when first published in 1929. It was republished in exactly the same form and content in 1932, still undated, but now having Price 6d printed on the cover. Possibly a sign of old stock being used up, the price was sometimes rubber stamped onto the cover instead.

~ A copy of the 1932 version is in our collection ~


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Great Western Railway Engines Names, Numbers, Types & Classes

Starting in 1911 the GWR published a series of booklets listing the various classes and numbers of the locomotives in their fleet. As time passed these booklets grew in content and style from the simple first series until, by the short third series, they had developed into comprehensive books. We are attempting to collect an example of each of these publications and those in our collection are pictured, with any missing ones in a series noted for completeness.


~~~ Series 1 ~~~

These stapled booklets were all noted as being Published by the Great Western Railway Magazine, Paddington Station, London,W. All had a common format, with different colour covers but no cover illustration.



1st edition - 1911

Great Western Railway - Names of engines, priced 6d.

2nd edition - 1914

Great Western Railway Engines, priced 6d.


1917 edition of the Engine Book

3rd edition - 1917

Great Western Railway Engines – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, 47 pages priced one shilling.
Written by A.J.L.White
Printer not recorded

Purely covering named engines. Contains sections on Naming of Locomotives and The Standardisation of Locomotives. Numbers, names and classes of engines are given in table form with a photograph and technical details of each. No index.



4th edition - 1919

Great Western Railway Engines – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, priced one shilling.

5th edition - 1922

Great Western Railway Engines – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, priced one shilling.

6th edition - 1923

Great Western Railway Engines – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, priced one shilling.


1925 edition of the Engine Book

7th edition - 1925

Great Western Railway Engines – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, 47 pages priced one shilling.
Written by A.J.L.White
Printer not recorded

Contains one section on Naming of Locomotives. Includes an alphabetical index of Named Engines. Now also contains photographs and technical details of un-named engines, but only gives number ranges rather than a full list which can be ‘ticked off’.



8th edition - 1926

Great Western Railway Engines – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, priced one shilling.


1928 edition of the Engine Book

9th edition - 1928

Great Western Railway Engines – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, 64 pages priced one shilling.
Written by A.J.L.White
Printer not recorded

Content updated with two pages of publicity for other GWR books and Jigsaws. Advertises More About Engines - ‘For Boys of all Ages’, The 10:30 Limited, Caerphilly Castle and The ‘King’ of Railway Locomotives – all at 1/- each. It’s a PuzzleKing George V (also mentions 300 piece version at 3/6), Britain’s Mightiest, Cathedral, Swansea Docks, Oxford, St. Julien, Speed, The Cornish Riviera Express, and The Freight Train – all at 2/6 each.


1929 edition of the Engine Book

10th edition - 1929

Great Western Railway Engines – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, 64 pages priced one shilling.
Written by A.J.L.White
'Printed in England by Underhill (Plymouth) Ltd. Printers'

The content has been updated, but the GWR books list remains as in the 1928 edition. The jigsaws page now features headings Jigsaws at 2/6, Jigsaws at 3/6 and Jigsaws at 5/-. The 300 piece King George V puzzle is the 3/6 one whilst The Torbay Express is priced at 5/-, with the list of cheaper jigsaws remaining unchanged from the previous edition.



~~~ Series 2 ~~~

All books from this point are marked as being Published by the Great Western Railway, Paddington Station, London W.2. This second series of booklets were still stapled but no longer kept to the previous plain cover.

1932 edition of the Engine Book

1st edition - 1932

The G.W.R. Engine Book – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, 72 pages priced one shilling.
Unknown author
'Printed in England by Cheltenham Press Ltd., Cheltenham and London'

Front cover has a circular window which reveals an illustration of the locomotive King George V on the first page. The rear cover carries a circular stylised drawing of a head-on view of the same locomotive. A note at the front of this booklet states that 'With the re-issue of the Engine Book, of names, numbers, types and classes, the opportunity has been taken to augment the information given in some earlier editions by features which, it is felt, will be welcomed by all interested in Great Western locomotives'. The two pages of adverts are totally revamped. The first being devoted to the book The“King” of Railway Locomotives with the second featuring Locomotives of the Great Western Railway at 6d, and the offer of coloured plate of King George V, 'suitable for framing', at 1/-. There is a small erratum slip attached to page 33 correcting an error in the tractive effort quoted on page 32.


1932 edition of the Engine Book, version 2

2nd edition - 1932

The G.W.R Engine Book – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, 72 pages priced 1/-.
Unknown author
'Printed in England by Cheltenham Press Ltd., Cheltenham and London'

This is in all respects identical to the book above except that the error on page 32 has been corrected and the front cover has been changed. It has lost the cut-out and instead carries an image, signed Arthur Sawyer, of an unidentified King class locomotive. There is no indication of when this reprint was published, or that it is indeed a reprint as both versions simply quote the same year.


1935 edition of the Engine Book

3rd edition - 1935

The Engine Book, 80 pages priced one shilling.
Unknown author
'Printed in England by J.W.Arrowsmith Ltd., 11 Quay Street, Bristol'

Sporting a colourful cover, signed Ralph Nott, which continues from the back to the front with ‘NorthStar’ silhouettes in yellow. An unidentified bright green (possibly a Castle class) locomotive and GWR roundel complete the bright cover. The note about incuding new features which appeared in both the 1932 editions is retained. There are four pages of advertisements in this edition, the two from the previous editions being retained. The new book entitled Cheltenham Flyer features on one of the additional pages and an updated list of jigsaws on the other.



~~~ Series 3 ~~~

With this third series of books the content, whilst similar to previous editions, has been enhanced and extended and the format changed to become a bound book, uniform with other similar books already published (such as the ‘for boys of all ages’ book series). In addition to the numbered pages, each edition contained eight ruled pages at the end for making notes.

1938 edition of the Engine Book

1st edition - 1938

GWR Engines – Names, Numbers, Types & Classes, 112 pages priced 1/-.
Written by W.G.Chapman
'Printed in Great Britain by Cheltenham Press Ltd., Cheltenham and London'

The front and rear covers are now identical and show a stylised image of a King class engine signed by Varnon. The adverts now cover five pages. Four are dedicated to the series Railway Books for Boys of All Ages with a page introduction and one page each for Cheltenham Flyer, Track Topics and Loco’s of the ‘Royal Road’. A final page advertises a long list of The Famous GWR Jigsaw Puzzles.



2nd edition - 1938

GWR Engines – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, priced 1/-.

A second edition of this book was published in 1938.

3rd edition - 1939

GWR Engines – Names, Numbers, Types and Classes, priced 1/-.


1946 edition of the Engine Book

4th edition - 1946

GWR Engines – Names, Numbers, Types & Classes, 108 pages priced 2/6.
Written by W.G.Chapman
'Printed in England by J.W.Arrowsmith Ltd., 11 Quay Street, Bristol'

Revised (and final) edition, but no longer with adverts for GWR publications or jigsaws (which had ceased production in 1939). The front and rear cover form one illustration, signed Chas. Mayo, depicting an unidentified King class locomotive on a turntable being operated by two crew whilst (on the rear cover) an engine is parked on a spur and, on another, a second is being re-watered