GWR loco numberplates

GWR loco numberplate

Example of a cast brass numberplate, lined
GWR loco numberplate Example of an unlined cast iron plate, with the perimeter and numerals picked out in cream

Images courtesy Railwayana Collectors Network

GWR engines carried painted-on numbers until around 1876, at which point the standard cast numberplate was introduced. These were carried more or less unchanged even beyond the end of the GWR. Exceptions included locos such as the 3232 Class, which carried separate numbers in an arc on the rear splasher. Some absorbed locos had 'G W R' above the number.

Tender engines carried the numberplates on the cab side. Tank engines at first had the numberplate on the centre of the tank sides, but from around 1907, these were moved backwards to the rear of the side tanks (on small engines) or the bunker sides (on larger engines). More detail on this placement can be found on the relevant livery page.

For lined locos, plates were also lined, the lining being ⅛" orange chrome. Unlined locos had unlined plates. The plates on some blue Kings had white lining. Plates that were red background (in BR days) were unlined.

Cast plates were ¾" thick. The numerals on number plates were 5¾" high. Jim Champ has a drawing of the 4-digit plate. The 3-digit plates were shorter.

The majority of the cast numberplates were brass. Many however were cast in iron. The perimeter and numerals on the cast iron plates were often picked out in cream paint. Here is a useful listing showing which types were fitted.


GWR absorbed engine numberplate Absorbed loco 813 with 'G W R' above the number. Note the bodywork colour is applied to the perimeter of the plate.

Picture courtesy Gareth Price. Click on picture for more of his photostream.