Some pictures of GWR Armstrong Goods ('388' class)

by Russ Elliott

The 'Armstrong Goods' were a large class of outside-framed locos built at Swindon in 1866–76, and were more numerous (310) than their more famous inside-framed successors, the Dean Goods. Although called a 'goods' loco, they were equally at home on passenger work, so would probably be regarded as 'mixed traffic' engines in modern parlance. They were one of the first classes to be fitted with Belpaire boilers, starting in 1901, several months before the Dean Goods engines started to receive them. Their low weight allowed them to operate anywhere on the system, even on lines that would later be classified as 'uncoloured'. They were coupled with Armstrong tenders for most of their lives, with the surviving engines receiving Dean 2500g or 3000g units later on. Approx 60 of the class were superheated from 1911 onward. Other than the usual range of boilers being fitted, there was a surprising lack of detail variation for such a large class. Many of them were scrapped without receiving Belpaire fireboxes. Withdrawals accelerated rapidly in the 1920s, with the survivors concentrated in the Wolverhampton division, and the last of the class was withdrawn in 1934.


GWR Armstong Goods 1109

It's very difficult to date this picture of 1109, or even identify the type of boiler carried, since the RCTS records are somewhat sketchy before the mid-1880s. The injectors are above the footplate and feed the boiler through side clacks. The chimney is a tall one.


GWR Armstong Goods 391

391 at Worcester, pre-1903. Despite being a Swindon built loco, the boiler and boiler fittings and the very tall cab are distinctly Wolverhampton origin.


GWR Armstong Goods 699

699, with a front-ring S2 boiler, as first fitted in February 1890.


1210, looking very clean, pictured probably between December 1894 and September 1903, when it was running with this type of front ring (S2) boiler. The smokebox is still a short one at this time.

Location unknown, but the trackwork is still bridge rail on baulk road.
GWR Armstrong Goods 1210


788 at Swindon in March 1902, when first fitted with a Belpaire B2 front ring boiler. It has an extended smokebox, which would become standard for the class from about that time. It was one of the early withdrawals, in June 1908. GWR Armstrong Goods 788 at Swindon, 1902


GWR Armstrong Goods 389

389 at Weymouth, probably shortly after being fitted with a Belpaire firebox in May 1903, and paired with an early Dean 2500g tender.


1210 again, pictured sometime between March 1909 when it received a B4 boiler and February 1923 when it was superheated. It is probably pre-WWI, given the presence of the works plate above the centre driver, the lack of chimney capuchon and the coal rails on the tender not yet being fitted with blanking plates. GWR Armstrong Goods 1210


GWR Armstrong Goods 512

512, with a larger front sandbox, which became a later standard for most of the rest of the class. The lubricator pipe has no cover. Capuchon chimneys became a later standard for the class. The loco frame has acquired some strengthening patches.


GWR Armstrong Goods 875

875, with an S4 roundtop firebox and backring dome, as fitted in January 1916. It never received a Belpaire firebox, and was withdrawn in June 1922.


GWR Armstrong Goods 403

403, with a large-radius cab roof and a heavily-riveted outside frame, at Swindon. It was fitted with a B4 Belpaire boiler in January 1906, and survived until September 1921.


GWR Armstrong Goods 407 at Reading

407 was superheated in August 1918, and is seen here at Reading, c 1925, with an early Dean 2500g tender. There are some strengtheners on the frame. It was withdrawn in July 1927.


GWR Armstrong Goods 436 at Exeter

436 at Exeter, probably early to mid-1920s, with a polished safety valve cover, and running with an early Dean 2500g tender. It was superheated in September 1918, and survived until February 1930.


GWR Armstrong Goods 1012 at Oxford, 9 May 1927

1012, with a topfeed boiler and a pressed-front Collett smokebox, at Oxford, 9 May 1927, running with an early Dean 3000g tender. This boiler was fitted in February 1925. The loco was withdrawn in September 1929.


GWr Armstrong Goods 22 at Swindon, 1931

22 at Swindon running shed in 1931, a year before it was withdrawn. It has a pressed smokebox front but retains its dished smokebox door. Unusually, the lance cock is on the left-hand side of the smokebox.


GWR Armstrong Goods 1195 at Stafford Road, July 1931

1195 at Stafford Road in July 1931, with an early Dean 3000g tender. The smokebox is a Collett one, although the loco was never superheated. It was the last survivor of the class, going in October 1934.