Rapido Trains UK shall be producing the Great Western Railway 44XX class of 2-6-2T locomotives in the first phase of their ‘Small Prairie’ project.
The GWR’s legendary engineer George Jackson Churchward settled on the ‘Prairie’ or 2-6-2 wheel arrangement for a medium sized, main line tank engine in 1903. Could a smaller version of prototype No. 99 be suitable for branch lines? There was only one way to find out.
No. 115 was built in 1904 and deemed a success. It was followed by ten more in 1905/1906 and they eventually became the 44XX class.
Good though the 44XXs were, they were hampered by their 4ft 1 1/2in diameter driving wheels. From 1906, new locos were built with 4ft 7 1/2in diameter driving wheels and these became the famous 45XXs.
Despite being a small class, the 44XXs found work in many different parts of the Great Western network, including the Birmingham area and South Wales, but they are perhaps best known for their performances in Devon and Cornwall.
The locos went through many modiications and rebuilds in their lives and the last wasn’t withdrawn until 1955, having been through two World Wars, the Grouping and Nationalisation.
Our design features a solid chassis and a modular body design to allow us to allow for many design and detail variations such as chimneys, safety valves, steam pipes, handrails and more. This has in turn enabled a wide variety of liveries to be represented, even on such a small class.
We are very excited to bring this loco to life in model form, especially as it’s never been made in OO gauge ready-to-run.