A GWR reference list

compiled by John Lewis

This page lists books and other references for GWR modellers. The list has been compiled by John Lewis, who is a GWR historian himself, and author of several books and articles on GWR coaching stock. Many thanks to John for letting me reproduce the list below, parts of which were originally posted on the GWR e-list. Note that some of the references are annotated.



Railway Correspondence Society
Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, RTCS

Vols 1-14:
  • 1. Preliminary survey
  • 2. Broad Gauge
  • 3. Absorbed engines 1854-1921
  • 4. Six-wheeled tender engines
  • 5. Six-coupled tank engines
  • 6. Four-coupled tank engines
  • 7. Dean's larger tender engines
  • 8. Modern passenger classes
  • 9. Standard two-cylinder classes
  • 10. Absorbed engines 1922-1947
  • 11. The rail motor vehicles and internal combustion locomotives
  • 12. A chronological and statistical survey
  • 13. Preservation and supplementary information
  • 14. Names; railmotor services; war service; preservation
J.H Russell
A Pictorial Record of Great Western Engines, OPC

Vols 1-3:
  • Vol 1: "Gooch, Armstrong & Dean Locomotives"
  • Vol 2: "Churchward, Collett & Hawksworth Locomotives"
  • Vol 3: "Absorbed Locomotives"
I. Harrison
Great Western Railway Locomotive Allocations for 1921, Wild Swan
N. Pocock & I. Harrison
Great Western Railway Locomotive Allocations for 1934, Wild Swan
J.H. Russell
Great Western Diesel Railcars, Wild Swan

The locomotive allocations registers for the last century are (with about three exceptions) in the Public Record Office. See the RAIL 254 series.


Coaches and non-passenger-carrying coaching stock ('brown' vehicles)

M. Harris
Great Western Coaches from 1890, D&C

This gives an overall picture of the passenger coaches built from 1890 onwards, and therefore does not cover early 4- and 6-wheel stock or the early bogie stock. The 1985 edition is probably the best so far. Passenger coaches, SRMs, Passenger Brake Vans and similar only. It omits Siphons, Horse boxes, Carriage truck vehicles.
J.H. Russell
Great Western Coaches Vol 1 & 2, OPC

Particularly for the photographs. Beware of the captions – especially in Vol.1. In spite of the errors this complements the Appendix volumes and goes further back.
J.H. Russell
Great Western Coaches Appendix Vol 1, OPC

This deals with bogie coaches only: Firsts, Thirds, Brake Thirds, Composites, i.e. it covers diags A – E. Note that it largely deals with coaches built this century. The coverage of older coaches is very limited
J.H. Rusell
Great Western Coaches Appendix Vol 2, OPC

Covers diagrams F onwards – i.e. Slip coaches, Saloons, Catering, Sleeping, Passenger Brake Vans, Mail, Parcels, Trailers etc. Its coverage of older coaches is better than Vol 1, but not perfect. Some Brakedown vans and tenders are included, and there are some interior views.
E.R. Mountford
Register of GWR Absorbed Coaching Stock 1922/3, Oakwood

If you are modelling an absorbed line before say 1930 (after which most had been scrapped).
J. Lewis
Great Western Autotrailers Vols 1 & 2, Wild Swan

Part 1 deals with trailers built before the Great War, and Steam Rail Motor conversions. These mostly lasted until the end of the GWR. Also includes the clerestory trailers, Clifton Downs stock, etc. Part 2 deals with absorbed trailers and ones built/altered from ordinary coaches after the Great War. I think it is definitive on the subject but then I wrote it!
J. Lewis
Official Drawings No.3: Great Western Coaches, Wild Swan

This is an attempt to cover most designs of coach from Dreadnoughts onwards. Only gangwayed coaches:
  • Dreadnaught compo to dia E77
  • Concertina third to dia C27 and compo to dia E80
  • Toplight 57' single ended slip to dia F14
  • Toplight 70' 3rds to dias C29/C33/C38
  • Collett PLV to dia K38
  • Ex-toplight ambulance coach with Collett style body to dia C55
  • Riveria third C59
  • Collett 9' wide large window brake third to dia D124
  • Collett 8' 11in wide large window third to dia C77
  • Hawksworth brake third to dia D133
J.N. Slinn & B.K. Clarke Great Western Siphons, Historical Model Railway Society

Covers all siphons and derivatives but not milk tanks etc. Includes Lot numbers, Diagram codes and running numbers. Includes drawings which are unfortunately largely undimensioned. Now out of print.

General notes:

If you are modelling a main line then the Public Record Office has many of the Through Coach Programmes booklets. They also have a number of the Bristol Division local coach workings booklets, but otherwise these are rather more rare than hen's teeth on the open market. Copies from the PRO are not cheap, but finding copies elsewhere is difficult/impossible – though you might try the GWS Library at Didcot, or the Swindon Museum.

If you are interested in 4-wheelers, join the Great Western Study Group, (recommended anyway) and get hold of their publication "Pannier" No.12 and No.14, which have details on these coaches.


Goods stock

J.H. Russell
A Pictorial Record of Great Western Wagons, OPC
J.H. Russell
Great Western Wagons Appendix, Vol. 1, OPC
Atkins, Beard & Tourret
GWR Goods Wagons, Tourret Publishing
Historical Model Railway Society
All about Iron Minks, HMRS
T. Atkins & D. Hyde
GWR Goods Services: An Introduction, Wild Swan



Stephen Williams
Great Western Branch Line Modelling: Part 1 Prototype Layouts, Track and Signalling

Stephen Williams
Great Western Branch Line Modelling: Part 2 Prototype buildings, fittings & traffic operation

Stephen Williams
Great Western Branch Line Modelling: Part 3 Creating a Model



R H Clark
An Historical Survey of Selected Great Western Stations Volume One
R H Clark
An Historical Survey of Selected Great Western Stations Volume Two
R H Clark
An Historical Survey of Selected Great Western Stations Volume Three
C R Potts
An Historical Survey of Selected Great Western Stations Volume Four


Broad Gauge

The Newton Abbot Library
A Broad Gauge Album, Newton Abbot Library
A.K. Steele
Great Western Broad Gauge Album, OPC
Broad Gauge Society
Taunton in the 1880s, Broad Gauge Society
J. Binding
Brunel's Cornish Viaducts, Atlantic/HMRS
C. Awdry
Brunel's Broad Gauge, OPC
The Great Western Broad Gauge Ian Allan
Beware of the captions!
A. H. Malan
Broad Gauge Finale, Wild Swan
Particularly strong on the last days of the BG. Malan's photos of moving trains caused a sensation in photographic circles at the time.


Edwardian GWR

Norris Beale & Lewis
Edwardian Enterprise, Wild Swan
O.S. Nock
Pregrouping Railway Scene No.1 : Great Western, Ian Allan
The GWR at the Turn of the Century, OPC
Pre-grouping in the West Midlands, OPC


1920s and 1930s

D. Fraser, D. Geen & B. Fox
The Great Western in the 1930s, Kingfisher
The photographs of G. H. Soole. Concentrates on trains in the Bristol area.
P. Hopkins
Great Western Pictorial, Wild Swan
The photos of Philip Hopkins (WSP) in the 1920s and 1930s.
J. Hodge
Great Western Pictorial No.2, Wild Swan
The photos of Gerald Hubback (WSP) in the 1920s and 1930s.
M. F. Yarwood
Window on the Great Western, Wild Swan
Covers 1930s with some from the 1940s.
M. Earley
Truly the Great Western, OPC
Photos of Maurice Earley, 1920s-1940s.


Other subjects

J. N. Slinn
Great Western Way, Historical Model Railway Society
Extensive livery details
E. Lyons
Great Western Engine Sheds 1947, OPC
E. Lyons & E. Mountford
Great Western Engine Sheds 1837-1947, OPC
A. Vaughan
A Pictorial Record of Great Western Signalling, OPC
D. Smith
GWR Switch and Crossing Practice, Great Western Study Group



The Great Western Railway Journal, Wild Swan Publications

Great Western Study Group, Newsletter and "Pannier"

National Railway Museum, GWR Drawings Catalogue

Also consider books on other railway companies wagons and Private Owner wagons; and if there are through passenger trains from other companies, then look for books on the appropriate company's coaching stock.

Webmasters note:

If you decide to purchase any of the above books, consider Nigel Bird Books, a friendly, reliable and very knowledgable trader of both secondhand, new, and out of print railway books.