A Beginner's Guide to GWR tenders

by Jim Champ

(pictures from the webmaster's collection unless otherwise credited)

please note this page is in a state of development, and many details need to be confirmed


Collett 3000g tender

Collett 3000g tender number 3002 on the South Devon Railway in 2010. Picture courtesy Dave Bowden.


GWR tenders are not documented to anything like the same extent as the locomotives they served. The development of tenders was a process of steady improvement and enlargement, and the few major changes of design didn't always match with changes of CMEs. It's hard to imagine a CME getting very excited about tender design, although Churchward is believed to have specified the long bogie tender for the Great Bear primarily for cosmetic reasons.

By the 20th century, GWR policy was to own fewer tenders than locomotives as they spent less time being repaired. This both saved capital and having loose tenders taking up space. The result is that tenders were highly standardised, and to a considerable extent interchangeable. Kings, for example, averaged over 20 different tenders during their 30- to 35-year working lives, and one preserved tender was attached to 26 different locomotives in a 31-year working life, after which it was used as an oil storage tank for another 23 years until it reached preservation 1.


GWR tenders before 1884 including Broad Gauge conversions

Broad gauge style, behind Iron Duke class loco 'Inkermann'. The loco was withdrawn in 1877.tender behind GWR broad gauge Iron Duke loco Inkermann


Rear view of broad gauge tender behind 2-4-0 'Convertible' loco 14. Swindon, 1888GWR Broad gauge tender of loco 14


GWR tender behind Armstrong Goods engine 406

Armstrong-era 6' + 6' wheelbase sandwich-frame well-tank tender, probably 1800g capacity, behind Standard Goods ('388 class') loco 406. Date unknown, but before the tender was rebuilt to a larger capacity. The tender has coal rails, but note the size of the coal lumps acting as makeshift (although somewhat precarious) fenders.


GWR tender behind loco 30

Another Armstrong-era tender behind '111' class 2-4-0 loco 30, the tender probably a Wolverhampton rebuild during the 1870s and 1880s to have wheelbase of 6'2" + 6'10" and a capacity thought to be 2350g. No coal rails are fitted. The brake rodding on these early tenders was outside the wheels. Date unknown (the loco was withdrawn in 1913).


GWR tender behind River class loco 69

6' + 6'10" Armstrong-era tender behind a works-grey portrait of 'River' class 2-4-0 loco 69 'Avon', showing the deep well tanks


The earliest tenders, like the locomotives they were attached to, were essentially a rather random collection from a variety of manufacturers. Tenders built for the Gooch designed classes normally had sandwich frames to match the locomotives.

Like the earlier locomotives, many of these tenders were rebuilt/renewed at Wolverhampton in the 1870s and 1880s. The least satisfactory were scrapped around the 1870/80 era, but the rebuilds often lasted until the turn of the century, with the last going in the 1920s.

Earlier Swindon tenders had sandwich frames with springs above the footplate and were generally 6' + 6' wheelbase with 4'0" wheels and a water capacity of around 1800g. All these early tenders had well tanks that came down between the frames to a greater or lesser extent.

Like so many of the early locomotives the tenders were rebuilt/renewed at Wolverhampton in the 1870s and 1880s, and these rebuilds tended towards a standard 6'2" + 6'10" wheelbase with 4' wheels, as did conversions from the broad gauge. Wolverhampton also built some new tenders to a similar specification.

These sandwich-framed tenders mostly lasted until around the Great War, and were withdrawn in large quantities in the 1920s along with older locomotives. One of the Wolverhampton built tenders survived until 1934, and was probably the last one.

From 1866, Swindon-built tenders had iron-plate frames and most had the now standard 6'2" + 6'10" wheelbase. 306 were built, typically 1800g capacity.

A few of these went abroad in WW1, not only with locomotives of the Standard Goods class, but also as water tanks. The last of these was withdrawn from use as a tender in 1929.


Armstrong tender on Standard Goods 510 at Reading, c 1925

Double-framed tender survivor, now fitted with fenders, behind Standard Goods 510 at Reading, probably c 1925. The tender would soon be replaced by a 2500g unit, and the loco was itself withdrawn in October 1929.

Drawing: pre-1884 GWR sandwich-framed tender

Typical sandwich-framed tender from before 1884

Armstrong 1800g tender at Chester, behind Standard Goods 598, c 1920

Behind Standard Goods 598, a late double-framed 6' + 6' survivor, possibly still 1800g capacity, at Chester, c 1920. Blanking plates have been fitted behind sections of the coal rails.

Armstrong tender behind GWR Standard Goods 874

Blanking plates fitted behind the coal rails of tender of Standard Goods 874


A 157 'Cobham' class Dean 2-2-2, with its Armstrong tender, takes on water at Goring troughs with a short non-corridor up express c 1900. All bar one of the Cobhams had disappeared by 1906. Cobham class Dean 2-2-2 picking up water with a short express


Armstrong tender on 360 class loco number 363 at Tyseley, July 1927

One of the last Armstrong tenders behind '360' class loco 363 at Tyseley, July 1927. The loco was the last of the class, withdrawn in 1933.


Swindon tenders, 1884 – 1906

Cascading of tenders

There was a general tendency for many tender loco classes to migrate to larger capacity tenders when they became available. The Dukes for example went from 2000g to 2500g to 3000g and the last survivors ended up with 3500g units. Larger 4-4-0s used 2500g, 3000g and 3500g units. The early 4-6-0s used 3000g, and then 3500g tenders, until the general adoption of the later 4000g units.

These transitions produced a cascading effect, with tenders being passed down to older engines. Where necessary, the shoveling plates and handrails of tenders were modified to match the height of the loco fallplate and cab width. When 4-4-0s adopted 3500g units, their cab sidesheets were flared out to match the tender body width.

Tender changing

Tender changing was routine and normal on the GWR. A loco would not be held up at the works awaiting the tender it came in with, the GWR's philosophy being to get overhauled locos back into revenue-earning service as soon as possible. When a loco came into the works, its tender went into the pool, and received whatever maintenance it needed, water tank repairs being the most common area of attention. Because tenders could be dealt with more quickly than many classes of loco repair, tenders would usually be likely, subject to suitable matching, to come out with a different loco from a shopping at Swindon, although at the smaller works it was more likely that the loco would get back the same tender. Intervals for tender changing would align with major shopping, which was typically every two to three years for 'large' locos.

Matching of tenders and locos

shoveling plate on front of GWR tender

The shoveling plate was set on a box structure at the front of tender. This Collett 4000g unit originally ran with 4942 Maindy Hall, and is now earmarked for the 4709 project. Also see a good view of a shoveling plate structure on a typical 3500g unit.

The primary functional requirements in choosing tenders for locos were appropriate coal and water capacity, vacuum brake provision (where considered necessary) and water scoop provision. In addition, the GWR adopted several 'health and safety' principles in matching tenders to locos:

  • in order to keep the fallplate level, the tender shoveling plate height was set to be at the same height as the loco footplate;

  • the width of the front of the tender platform should closely match the width of the loco footplate;

  • tender and loco steps should be at matching heights where possible;

  • the loco cab handrail and the front handrail of the tender should be in approximately the same lateral plane.

These requirements led to constraints and some inflexibility in choosing what might be readily available from the 'tender pool' when a loco was overhauled. In some cases, particularly at the smaller works, locos retained their original tenders after overhaul.

cab fallplate on GWR Bulldog 3335

Cab fallplate matchup on curved-frame Bulldog 3335
wideplate tender platform cut to narrow plate footplate loco

The requirement to match the width of the front of the tender platform to be the same as that of the loco footplate occasionally led to adhocery. Here, a tender platform has been cut back at its front end to match the footplate width of a Dean Goods. Cutting back a tender platform was very rare.


After c 1930, it was standard practice to flare out the ends of the 7'6" cabs of 4-4-0s by 3" each side when they migrated up to 3500g units. Here is Bulldog 3410 'Columbia' at Didcot, 7 September 1935. flared cabsheets on a GWR Bulldog


Sometimes things didn't go quite to plan. Duke 3267's cabsheets have been flared out to work with a 3500g tender, but the loco finds itself paired with a smaller capacity one with an unsuitable step height match. Didcot, c 1930.

Once a 4-4-0 migrated to a 3500g unit, it was very rare for it to revert to a smaller capacity one.
Duke 3267 tender at Didcot


General dimensions of tenders, post-1884
Capacity Body width Platform width(s) Platform height
2000g 6'6"  (7' over fenders) probably 7'3"(*) and 8'3", the latter for the early Dukes 4'3½" ?
2500g 6'6"  (7' over fenders) 7'3"(*), 7'8"(*), (and 8'3"?) 4'3½" ?
3000g, excluding late Collett 6'6"  (7' over fenders) 7'8"(*), 8'3" 4'3½"
3500g 8'0"  (8'6" over fenders) 8'6" 4'3½"
4000g Collett 8'0"  (8'6" over fenders) 8'8" 4'4½"
4000g slab-sided Hawksworth 8'0" 8'8" 4'4½" ?
8'6", for Counties 9' 4' 5⅞"
 *  exclusive of any outrigger plates



In 1884 a single tender to a new design 3000g tender was built. This had the new feature of springs below the footplate. 396 more were built between 1890 and 1906 to basically similar designs, with various detail improvements in suspension, changes in fittings and so on. Such was Swindon economy of design that the principal dimensions of these tenders were still present in the Hawksworth 4000g tenders, 80 years later.

Coal rails were introduced in the 1890s, and solid fenders from 1903. The nominal coal capacity was 5 tons.

There were variations in shoveling plate height, handrail arrangements and the width of the tender platform to match different locomotives requirements.

The first was withdrawn in 1927, and 104 of this type were sold to the war department in 1940 associated with Dean Goods. However, there were still some in use in 1964 when the WR stopped keeping records of tenders. 'City of Truro' is preserved with one of these tenders, fitted with coal fenders rather than coal rails, and with separate water filler and dome casings.
Drawing: Dean GWR 3000g tender

Dean 3000g tender in 19th century condition with coal rails


GWR Dean 3000g tender fitted with a water scoop for the first non-stop runs between Paddington to Plymouth

Atbaras hauled the first Paddington to Plymouth non-stop runs, and this contemporary engraving from 1901 shows a scoop-fitted late-Dean 3000g tender behind 3375 'Edgcumbe'. The front of the body flare is unrecessed. (Click on the image for a larger version.)


GWR Bulldog taking water on Goring Troughs

An oval-plate Bulldog with its original parallel boiler and coal-rail tender, probably a 3000g, takes on water with an up express at Goring


arrangement of water scoop on GWR 4000g tender

Water scoop schematic on Collett 4000g tender

Water scoops began to be fitted from the mid-1890s, with the first set of water troughs entering use in 1895. The water scoop gear incorporates not only the actual scoop at the bottom, but also apparatus above the tank. The uprushing water hits a dome where it is spread out and falls back into the tank. Initially, the dome and the filler cap were combined in a single D-shaped 'coffin' casing. Water intake per yard of water trough was optimised when the train speed was approximately 45mph. It seems that scoops were fitted only on an 'as-required' basis at first, but were rapidly deployed on many tenders as the number of water troughs increased. It is not known at which point scoops became a standard fitting for new-build tenders.

Adrian Vaughan has an excellent article on GWR water troughs.


Late Dean 3000g behind Bulldog 3417, pictured shortly after the loco had been renamed Charles Grey Mott in January 1904 Dean 3000g tender behind Bulldog 3417 Charles Grey Mott, 1904


3000g tender behind Duke 3267 in 1924

An early Dean 3000g tender in 1924, behind an overhauled Duke 3267 'Cornishman'. A water scoop is present, and the water filler and dome are combined. This tender has a standard 3000g platform width of 7'8" with added on pieces at the front to match the 8'3" footplate of the engine, and 'outrigger' handrails. The lower half of the front step is scalloped, and the front flare of the body is recessed. The springs are light. The bridles under the hornguides are the early rod type.


In the early 1920s, a standard 7'8" wide platform Dean 3000g tender with light springs and outrigger plates and handrails behind Badminton class 4110 'Mortimer'. Some of the Badmintons moved up to 3500g units in their last years. 3000g tender behind Badminton class 4110


3000g tender behind Collett Goods 2251 in 1930

Collett Goods loco 2251 is new in 1930, but its refurbished 3000g tender originates from 30 years or so earlier. Separate water filler and dome, water scoop, standard platform width of 7'8" with added on pieces to match the 8'2" footplate of the engine, and 'outrigger' handrails. The lower half of the front step and the front of the body flare are in the later style. The springs are heavy, but the spring shackles are of an uncommon small diameter. Rod type hornguide bridles. Dean tapered buffers.

Most 3000g tenders running with 4-4-0s had outrigger plates fitted to align the tender's front handrails with those of the loco, but City of Truro's tender (no 1506, of lot A49) was of a batch where the tender platform was wider than normal, at approx 8'3", throughout the length of the tender, and which matched the 8'3" width of the loco footplate. (The black and white picture is at Newton Abbot, 1957.) City of Truro tender at Newton Abbot in 1957 City of Truro tender to loco interface


Duke 9083 'Comet' at Didcot, 1948

The smaller-capacity 8'3" wideplate tenders became somewhat elusive after the big-wheeled 4-4-0s started to upgrade to 3500g tenders after the mid-1920s, but here is one at Didcot in 1948 behind Duke 9083, working the DN&S line at the time. The wideplate platform transforms the appearance, and makes determination of whether the tender is a 2500g or a 3000g difficult. The tender's handrails have been changed to be 'inline' with those on the narrow cab of the loco. The tender has an unusually tall toolbox. The loco was one of the last two Dukes to survive, and was withdrawn in December 1950. Photo by Ben Brooksbank, and reproduced under Creative Commons Licence.


An 8'3" wide platform 3000g exactly matches the footplate width of Aberdare 2650, and the loco and tender handrails are in alignment tender behind GWR Aberdare 2650 Collett Goods 3212 entering Winchester Chesil

Another of the 8'3" wide platform 3000g tenders finds itself paired with Collett Goods 3212, seen here entering Winchester Chesil on a Didcot to Southampton train.


Running behind Collett Goods 2272, this Dean 3000g has acquired a 1936-pattern Collett underframe with wide-angle hornguides and curved between the hornguide and the horiontal part of the frame. There is no water scoop and no vacuum tank. Pictured at Camarthen, probably late-1930s. Thanks to Mike Morant for permission to show this, the full version of which can be seen here. Dean 3000g tender with later underframe, running behind Collett Goods 2272



2500g tenders had a 6'6" + 6'6" wheelbase. 301 were built of these between 1884 and 1903. Often used with 0-6-0s, many went overseas in the Great War, and three were sold to the war department in 1940. They received coal rails and fenders like the 3000g units in time.

Withdrawals started from 1927. Most 2500g tenders had disappeared by the end of WWII, but a few survived into the 1950s, one even receiving BR(W) black livery. One (number 1273, of lot A33) is preserved with Dean Goods 2516 at Steam Swindon, again fitted with fenders, not coal rails, but with a combined casing for the filler and scoop dome.

No 2500g tenders were fitted with vacuum tanks.
2500g tender behind 2361 class 0-6-0

Late-pattern 2500g tender behind 2361 class 0-6-0


tender of Dean Goods 2467 at Weymouth

Early-pattern Dean 2500g tender behind Dean Goods 2467 at Weymouth, probably shortly after 1905, showing the 'twin-strips' style of brake hangars fitted to all Dean and Churchward tenders. Note the lining follows the recess of the front body flare.


Taking water in what seems to be LNWR territory, and pictured probably shortly after 2-4-0 3237 was built in 1892, this early 2500g tender has coal rails, very light springs, an early monogram and polished spring shackles 2500g tender behind 2-4-0 3237


Short-wheelbase tenders

Some 80 short tenders with 5'6" + 5'6" wheelbase were built from 1895 to 1901, initially 2000g capacity and later 2400g. The short wheelbase of the 2000g tenders, built primarily for use with the Duke locos, was predicated on the lack of a larger turntable at Penzance until Long Rock loco shed came on stream c 1914. None of these short-wheelbase tenders have survived.

No 2000g tenders were fitted with vacuum tanks.
Bulldog 3273 Armorel on the turntable at Penzance

Even with its short wheelbase, a 2000g tender has to be squeezed onto a set of outriders at the short turntable at Penzance station, c 1898. The loco is Duke 3273 'Armorel', later rebuilt as a curved-frame Bulldog.


Dean 2000g tender updated with coal fenders and water scoop. This would be typical for post WW1. Drawing: Dean GWR 2000g tender


2000g behind Standard Goods 4362000g tender behind Standard Goods 436


Standard tenders, 1900 – 1948

Tenders in Swindon J shop, c 1907

Tenders in Swindon J shop, c 1907

These are often called Churchward or Collett tenders. However since the Churchward designs were still being built some years after Churchward retired the label is potentially confusing.

Tenders from this era get a little complicated. The source of problems isn't so much that the designs changed radically, in fact rather the opposite. There was continuous background development that was going on through the lifespan of these tenders and a policy of fixing what needed fixing, and not fixing what was still serviceable. And, rather like the 4-4-0s at the turn of the century, it seems the frames weren't really strong enough, so between 1925 and 1948 there several significantly different treatments of the area round the horn plates and spring hangers.

When a tender had major repairs the chassis and water tank might be separated and recombined with earlier or later units.

Almost all tenders of this era had the 7'6" + 7'6" wheelbase used on the 3000g Dean tenders.

Water tanks

From around 1905 the water filler and dome, instead of being combined in a single casing, were separated so the dome was a highly flattened hemisphere.

Up to 1926 the tender water tanks had a well tank between the frames, and consequently the water tank above the frames was relatively shallow. From 1926 onwards the well tank was abandoned, and the tenders had a simple flat-bottomed tank above the frames, which consequently was somewhat higher. The elimination of well tanks enabled several different tank designs to fit different underframes, the idea being that if the tank needed any repairs, once the frames, running gear etc had been overhauled, then the next repaired tank in the pool could be fitted.

Tender sides, coal rails & fenders

3000g tenders were lower than 3500g tenders, and 3500g tenders lower than 4000g ones. In addition, when the well tanks were abandoned the sides of the tenders got higher too. There was also a rare variant of 3500g well-tank tender with sides some 4" higher than standard which seems to have been produced in the 1920s and originally fitted to Castles until they received 4000g tenders 2.

Coal rails, fitted at the very beginning of this period, were soon replaced with short coal fenders about 15' long. From 1910 they were about 18' long. After 1926, the tenders with no well tank had the coal fender continuing round the back of the tender at a lower level, not simply truncated after the coal space.


At first the chassis was very similar to the Dean ones, quite shallow and with conventional sized horn plates. A few tenders in the mid-1920s had a deeper chassis in the region of the spring hangers, but the frame was then scalloped upwards to roughly the same depth as its predecessors. This two-stage curve was reminiscent of spring arrangements on several outside frame classes. From 1926, the scalloping was omitted and the frames were straight between the spring hangers, so somewhat deeper. From 1931 the horn plates on the frames were much wider at their base.3.

Springs and spring hangers

Collett's team did some significant work on spring design for tenders as well as locomotives. The later springs had more and flatter leaves, without the curvature of earlier types. To complicate things further it was by no means uncommon for older tenders to be uprated with later design springs.

There were several designs of spring hanger, both to cope with varying designs of spring and chassis and to provide reinforcements to older tenders. The weakness in the corners near the axle boxes due to stress concentration caused cracks to form. In particular there was a distinctive style in which rectangular plates with generous flanges were used to reinforce the horn guides and support later style flat springs.
tender of GWR Hall 4901

4901 was the first production batch Hall, and this works grey portrait shows its tender, a Churchward 3500g with snaphead riveted body, with flanged plates securing the spring hangars. Photo possibly taken 1928.


tender of GWR Abbey 4071

Flanged plates on the spring hangars of this Churchward 3500g unit behind 4071 'Cleeve Abbey'. These plates helped absorb bending stresses set up by the springing.



Early tenders were steam-braked. In 1906, commencing with the first 3500g tenders, vacuum brakes were fitted as standard. It is thought that no 2500g or Dean 3000g tenders were ever fitted with vacuum brakes, although it was shown on several later 3000g tender weight diagrams with Dean bodies.

Vacuum tanks were initially fitted longitudinally, but a transverse orientation became the later standard.

Brake hangars were of the 'twin-strip' form on early tenders, but were changed to the later Collett cast style, probably post-1930. Brake hangars on older tenders were often replaced with the cast ones when repairs and upgrades were made.
typical loco and tender vacuum arrangement on GWR locos

The plumbing of vacuum apparatus linking loco, tender, carriage and wagon. Image courtesy of Gavin Bishop, of the South Devon Railway.



629 3500g tenders with the early shallow frame style were built between 1905 and 1925. All were basically the same design, but the initial batches had fairly short coal fenders, which were replaced with a longer design from 1910. Although most were built at Swindon, 35 were constructed by Robert Stephenson & Co with the 4300 2-6-0s they built. They were sometimes fitted with stronger post-1925 frames in later life. Some also acquired different designs of water tank. Most were fitted with heavy springs, but some earlier types had lighter springs. Early bodies were flush-riveted, later bodies had snapheads.

A good number of these tenders have survived into preservation, at least one of which has replacement Collett era frames. Water tanks are naturally very vulnerable to corrosion, and quite a number of these tenders have had new or partially new tanks and bodies, not all of which are the original design or capacity.

A batch of ten with the scallop frame style was built in 1925/6, and then a batch with the first of the deep style frames was built in 1929/30. One of the scalloped frame 3500g tenders has survived, but none of the later ones.
Drawing: Churchward GWR 3500g tender

Pre-1925 (Churchward) 3500g tender. Shallow frames


County 4-4-0 3818 with a short-fender Churchward 3500g, in 1906, with light springs and an early form of transverse vacuum tank placed near to the front axle. The loco is from the second batch (3801-20) of the class, fitted with vacuum brake. The first 1904 batch of locos (3800 and 3831-9) were initially steam-braked and had 3000g units, later fitted with longitudinal vacuum tanks. The last batch of locos (3821-30, of 1911-12) received Churchward 3500g units, when long fenders had become the norm. The shoveling plate of these tenders was set very high to match the loco cab floor. Note the perfect step alignment between loco and tender. Early Churchward 3500g tender behind GWR County 4-4-0 3818


GWR tender behind Star 4017 at Bath, September 1908

Probably an early 3500g with short fenders, flush-riveted body, light springs and the first form of transverse vacuum tank, behind Star 4017 at Bath, September 1908. The water filler is extended to form an elaborately shaped cover onto the water dome.


Saint 2908 with an express, prior to WWI

Short-fender Churchward 3500g behind Saint 2908 'Lady of Quality' with an express prior to WWI


3500g flush-riveted tender behind Mogul 4356 at Old Oak Common

Early flush-riveted 3500g, with light springs and a longitudinal vacuum tank, behind Mogul 4356 at Old Oak Common, shortly after the loco was built
3500g tender behind Saint 2901It is rare to see a 3500g tender without a scoop, and even stranger to see the absence of a scoop handle. This is an otherwise standard flush-riveted early Churchward 3500g with light springs. Behind Saint 2901 'Saint Superior' at Worcester, c 1922. The tender is unlined.


Churchward 3500g tender with longitudinal vacuum tank and flush-riveted body, c 1919. Heavy springs and tapered buffers.Churchward 3500g tender behind 4700, in 1919


Most of the first three lots of Castles (4073–5012) received 3500g Churchward units, probably all of them with longitudinal vacuum tanks like this one behind 4078, pictured soon after building in 1923.

The early 'low, straight-arm' water cranes would be a cause of clearance trouble when the 4000g tenders appeared later.
3500g Churchward tender behind Castle 4078


Shallow-frame 3500g tender in a works grey portrait with Mogul 7320, c 1925. Snaphead rivets on body, transverse vacuum tank. Heavy springs, tapered buffers.GWR 3500g tender behind Mogul 7320, c 1925


Typical snaphead riveting pattern on the sides of a Churchward 3500g tender, and internal layoutGWR 3500g tender - typical arrangement of riveting and internal layout


Pictured probably at some time between 1930 and 1933, Hall 4923's tender is a flush-riveted Churchward 3500g with a longitudinal vacuum tank.Churchward 3500g tender with Hall 4923


Interior of front of 3500g tender behind GWR Mogul 5322

Interior of front of 3500g tender behind Mogul 5322. The number carried on this tender is not original, and its true identity has never been discovered. Note how the cab cutout beading and handrail is angled out from the cabside plane. Image courtesy of Brian Daniels. (Click for original source picture, and further pictures of this tender.)


Snaphead riveted 3500g with a longitudinal vacuum tank behind Mogul 4344 at Weymouth, 11 October 19313500g tender behind Mogul 4344 at Weymouth, 11 October 1931


This early flush-riveted Churchward 3500g body has been fitted with a later style Collett underframe with wide hornguides – Mogul 6311 at Croes Newydd, 28 September 19583500g tender behind Mogul 6311 at Croes Newydd, 28 September 1958


Flush-riveted Churchward 3500g behind Collett Goods 2241 in late BR(W) lined green livery. Heavy springs, Collett parallel buffers.GWR flush-riveted 3500g tender behind Collett Goods loco 2241, late BR(W) lined green livery


5322 tender

Churchward 3500g behind Mogul 5322, at Didcot, 8 July 2016. This is about as close to a classic Churchward snaphead-riveted example that exists today, although the original brake hangars have been replaced by Collett cast ones at an unknown date, probably towards the end of the GWR era. Picture courtesy of Brian Daniels. (Click for original image and other pictures of 5322's tender.)


7mm model of 3500g 'intermediate' tender built by Tony Geary

Tony Geary's 7mm model of an 'intermediate' 3500g tender, about to go into the Martyn Welch paintshop. This design was a small batch of ten built in 1925 under lot A112, and can be spotted by the line of rivets two-thirds up the body side. Picture courtesy Tony Geary. These intermediate tenders ran with a variety of locos, see for example running with 4936 Kinlet Hall.


3500g intermediate tender running with 7828 Odney Manor

3500g intermediate tender running with 7828 Odney Manor


Collett 3500g tender. A small number of these were built in 1930, and had continuous fenders extending around the rear. Their height matched well with the cab cutout height of 4-6-0s. (These tenders were 6" higher than the later Collett 3000g units.) They had deep frames and narrow horn plates, but there were variations in spring shackle length between different lots. Click here for a GA drawing of lot A118. Drawing: Collett GWR 3500g tender


Hall 4958 and a Collett 3500g with long spring shackles in the early 1930s. Collett 3500g tender behind Hall 4958


Collett 3500g tender running behind Saint 2935

Collett 3500g tender with short spring shackles running behind Saint 2935, probably shortly before WWII. The loco still has small boss drivers on its leading and trailing axles.


Collett 3500g with Grange 6855 at Swindon, 18 September 1960Collett 3500g with Grange 6855 at Swindon, 18 September 1960


Collett 3500g with Grange 6859 at Swindon, February 1964

Collett 3500g with Grange 6859 at Swindon, February 1964



The first of these 4000g tenders was turned out with Churchward 4-6-0 No 100, and had coal rails. All the other early 4000g tenders, built between 1901 and 1904, had fenders from new. Only 20 were built in all, and they were usually used on Stars, although they were seen on other classes. At least one was rebuilt with Collett frames in later life. At least some survived until the 1960s, but none have been preserved.


GWR 102 La France with 4000g tender

At first glance, this looks like a 3000g tender, but it's actually 4000g capacity, of a small number (20) built between 1900 and 1904. Most of these were initially built with coal rails, and only the last few of them first appeared with fenders, so the tender in the picture is likely to be of the last few. These tenders had bodies a foot wider than usual, at probably 7'6" wide. Loco 102 'La France', delivered in October 1903, is one of the de Glehn Atlantics, and hauled the inaugural down Cornish Riviera Express from Paddington non-stop to Plymouth on 1 July 1904. It is shown here in its short-lived initial livery of black with red lining, and was repainted to standard GWR express passenger livery in 1905. The Dean 4000g tenders were rebuilt with lengthened fenders and newer stronger frames, and under Collett, most had the wells removed making them a lower capacity, in order to make the frames interchangable. Some ended up looking similar to the Churchward 3500g intermediates.


No more 4000g tenders were built until 1928, but they then became the predominant type, and some 481 tenders were built between 1928 and 1946. The large 4-6-0 locomotives were almost all given 4000g tenders, and, for example, during the war 2884 2-8-0s were nominally constructed with 4000g tenders that were actually used with Castles, Stars and Halls, and the 2-8-0s left the works with second-hand 3500g units.

One 8-wheel 4000g tender, number 2586, was built as an experiment in August 1931 to see whether there was a need for tenders with a larger capacity and because axlebox wear was quite high on the 3-axle 4000g units. In the event, the GWR considered its water trough network was adequate for the existing 4000g units. It ran behind a number of Halls, Stars and Castles 4, and pictured here with Hall 5904 in late steam days.

Another experiment was an aluminium alloy tank.

17 of these tenders were temporarily converted to carry oil fuel rather than coal in the 1946 experiments.

A good number of these tenders have survived into preservation and they are the most numerous type. A number of the earlier ones have had their original frames replaced with the later design during their service life. Many tanks have been replaced in preservation, and again not all are the original design or size.
Drawing: Collett GWR 4000g tender

Collett 4000g tender. This is a post-1934 design frame with the wide hornplates, and as shown below behind Hall 5916

Collett post-1934 style of GWR 4000g tender behind Hall 5916


Castles received Collett 4000g tenders as soon as they became available (after 1926), with the 3500g tenders of the early engines being passed on to other classes. Here is 4073 Caerphilly Castle's first early pattern 4000g tender, with narrow hornplates, long spring hangers and shallow gusset brackets between the frame and the body.

The spring shackles are very thin, and would soon be replaced by thicker ones.
Early pattern 4000g tender behind GWR Castle 4073 Caerphilly Castle


Castle 5093 picking up water on Goring troughs in 1949

All Castles from 5013 onward used only 4000g tenders.
Castle 5093 at Goring troughs in 1949


This 4000g has a strengthening modification at the rear of its frame. Hall 5999 in BR(W) mixed-traffic livery. tender of GWR Hall 5999


4000g tender behind 4936 Kinlet Hall

4000g tender, with wide hornplates, short spring hangers and later-pattern long gusset brackets, behind preserved 4936 'Kinlet Hall', at Kingswear in 2012. Picture courtesy of Dave Deane, of Loco Yard. A larger resolution picture is here.


drawing of GWR 8-wheel tender

8-wheel 4000g tender, built in August 1931. Brake shoes were fitted to the first, second and fourth axles. Drawing courtesy of Paul Hanna.



No 3000g tenders were built between 1906 and 1940. Then 50 more were built between 1940 and 1948. They all had the later design deep frames with wide horns. They were mostly found on the 2251 class, but were also used on some of the Bulldogs towards the end of their lives. No 3000g tenders had been constructed since 1906, so presumably 1890s vintage units were coming to the end of their lives. At least two of these tenders have survived into preservation. No 3000g tenders with scalloped frames were built new, but there are a few photographs of what must be replacement frames of that design, and they are quite common on GWR weight diagrams and as models. rear of Collett 3000g tender

Collett 3000g tender number 3002, running with 2-8-0 3803 at Buckfastleigh in 2009, image courtesy Andy Malthouse


The front of late Collett 3000g tender no 3002, from lot A159, currently attached to Collett Goods 3205. The primary tommy-bar link is flanked by two safeties. The tender scoop handle and pivot bar for the tender scoop are not fitted. Image courtesy of Brian Daniels. (Click for original source picture.) Front of GWR tender 3002, attached to Collett Goods 3205, by Brian Daniels


Hawksworth tenders, 1948 onward

4000g for 8'6" loco cabs

The first of the Hawksworth tenders were built for the Counties. There were 30 of them, and wider (at 8'6") than standard to match the 8'6" wide cabs of the Counties. They were never used on other classes. With flush sides and deep slotted frames they were distinctly reminiscent of the LMS 8F units.

All the 8'6" tenders were scrapped with the Counties. The Great Western Society is building a new one.


Drawing: GWR Hawksworth Tender

The slab-sided Hawksworth tender

8'6 inch wide tender behind County 4-6-0 number 1000


4000g standard

107 of these were built from 1947, and were mainly used with Castles and Halls, although a few were seen on Stars. Several of these tenders have survived, and are in active use both on preserved lines and on the mainline behind Halls and Castles.

4000g Hawksworth tender behind 5049 Earl of Plymouth

8'-wide 4000g Hawksworth tender behind double-chimneyed Castle 5049 'Earl of Plymouth'


Non-GWR tenders

Absorbed Tenders, 1870 – 1905

Few of the tenders from locomotives absorbed by the GWR over this period lasted very long in service. A few tenders from the Llanelli Railway and Dock Co lasted into early years of the 20th century, and some of the tenders taken over from the Bristol & Exeter lasted long enough to be used as water tanks in France during the Great War.


ROD Tenders

These were 4000g tenders with at least 6-ton coal capacity, and had 4'4" diameter 13-spoke wheels. Because (see above) the GWR bought many ROD locomotives that were soon scrapped, so they had an excess of tenders – over 50 more than locomotives. The RODs didn't have vacuum brake gear, but some of these tenders were fitted with train vacuum brake gear and used with Aberdare and a few Collett Goods locos, including 2281-86. They were withdrawn between 1927 and 1961, but many were converted for various service tasks.

ROD tender behind Aberdare 2665 at Chester shed, 10 April 1938

Coaled to the max, ROD tender and Aberdare 2655 await duty at Chester shed, 10 April 1938


Aberdare 2622 and its ROD tender after receiving a shirtbutton repaint at Swindon, 17 April 1937 ROD tender behind GWR Aberdare 2622 on 11 April 1937


Standing behind a fascinating set of old tank chimneys in Swindon yard on 22 February 1953, 4000g ROD tender behind loco 3042, in unlined black livery. Photo by Ben Brooksbank, and reproduced under Creative Commons licence. A higher resolution version of the picture is here ROD tender behind loco 3042, Swindon, 22 February 1953


Absorbed Tenders, Grouping

Tenders came to the GWR from the Barry, Cambrian, Taff Vale and M&SWJR lines, mostly on 4-4-0s and 0-6-0s. They were normally withdrawn at the same time as the accompanying locomotives, although Taff Vale and M&SWJR units in particular were often reused as water tanks or sludge tanks and the like. One MSWJR tender which had been used for sludge since the 1930s in the 1960s had both M&SWJR and Great Western lettering visible.

tender of ex-M&SWJR 4-4-0 loco 1119

Tender of ex-M&SWJR 4-4-0 loco 1119


Tender of ex-Cambrian Railway 0-6-0 loco 855 tender of ex-Cambrian 0-6-0 loco 855


List of preserved GWR tenders

(these link to information on the Vintage Carriages Trust site)

2329 Collett 3500g
3029 Collett 3000g
1840 Churchward 3500g
2690 Collett 4000g
4078 Hawksworth 4000g 8'0" wide
1839 Churchward 3500g
2397 Collett 4000g
1719 Churchward 3500g
2885 Collett 4000g
2913 Collett 4000g
Unknown Hawksworth 4000g 8' 6" wide
2143 Churchward 3500g
1994 Churchward 3500g
2640 Collett 4000g
2826 Collett 4000g
2106 Churchward 3500g
2702 Collett 4000g
2928 Collett 3500g
4084 Hawksworth 4000g 8'0" wide
2065 Churchward 3500g
1761 Churchward 3500g
4117 Hawksworth 4000g 8'0" wide
2603 Collett 4000g
2583 Collett 4000g
2347 Churchward 3500g
Unknown Collett 4000g
Unknown Collett 4000g
Unknown Collett 4000g
Unknown Churchward 3500g
2598 Collett 4000g
2910 Collett 4000g
2376 Churchward 3500g
1726 Churchward 3500g
1889 Churchward 3500g
4019 Collett 4000g
Unknown Collett 4000g
Unknown Churchward 3500g
1805 Churchward 3500g (scrapped)
2355 Churchward 3500g
2334 Churchward 3500g
2399 Collett 4000g
2792 Collett 4000g
2032 Churchward Intermediate 3500g
3002 Collett 3000g
Unknown Collett 4000g
2771 Collett 4000g
SVR No.1 Collett 3500g/Churchward hybrid
2389 Collett 4000g
2210 Churchward 3500g
1506 Dean 3000g
1273 Dean 2500g
4081 Hawksworth 4000g 8'0" wide
2788 Collett 4000g
Unknown Collett 4000g
1888 Churchward 3500g
1982 Churchward 3500g
Unknown Collett 4000g
2756 Collett 4000g
2247 Collett 4000g
2206 Churchward 3500g
2629 Collett 3000g
2056 Collett 3500g/Churchward hybrid
2425 Collett 4000g
Unknown Collett 4000g
Un-numbered (tank only) Hawksworth 4000g 8'0" wide


1  GWR Narrow (=Standard) Gauge Locomotive Tenders. 1854-1952 Part 2, Great Western Study Group, 2003. Data from 'Peto's Register' and an article in Steam Railway magazine, No 27.

2  The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway Part Twelve: A Chronological and Statistical Survey, N J Allcock, F K Davies, H M Le Fleming, P J T Reed & F J Tabor, The Railway Correspondence and Travel Society. It's normally stated that the whole of the scalloped frame lot were constructed with high sides, and no others, but there are a number of early photos of high sided tenders without scalloped frames. There is no surviving drawing showing the high sides, and the only mention of them in the tender lots register is a note that must have been made some years after the tenders in question were constructed.

3  Around half of the surviving pre-1931 tenders now have later style frames. See the Vintage Carriage Trust database for information on surviving tenders.

4  In numerical order of loco, but not of allocation: 4043, 4093, 4918, 5001, 5032, 5068, 5071, 5049, 5017, 5904, 5919, 5957, 6951, 7904

Drawings are approximately redrawn from Russell and Great Western Study group sources but are strictly representative and may contain errors.