GWR 80972 Inspection Saloon

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GWRGreat Western Railway 80972 Inspection Saloon
GWR 80972 20191019.jpg
GWRGreat Western Railway 80972 Inspection Saloon
Built By GWRGreat Western Railway Swindon
Status In service
Number W80972W
Other numbers 80972
Built 1948
Designed By HawksworthFrederick Hawksworth, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1941-1948
Diagram Q13
Lot 1701
Type Nondescript, INSP
Length 52ft 0in
Weight 31t (approx)
Seats 23 (as now used)
1973 Preserved
2006 Arrived on SVRSevern Valley Railway


GWRGreat Western Railway Inspection Saloon W80972W is one of seven 52ft inspection saloons (INSP) built at Swindon as lot number 1701 to diagram Q13.[1][2] It was ordered under FW HawksworthFrederick Hawksworth, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1941-1948’s tenure as GWRGreat Western Railway CMEChief Mechanical Engineer, although it has little visual similarity to his other carriage designs. It entered service in 1948 in what had by then become the BRBritish Rail or British Railways Western Region.

80972 in service

80972 was allocated to Shrewsbury, where it spent most of its working life as the District Civil Engineer's mobile offices,[3] also referred to as the Area Manager's saloon. It made regular trips on the Severn Valley branch and the Cambrian line, where it was used for inspection duties such as signal-sighting trips by the Salop S&TSignals & Telegraph Department. Traction was normally provided by an IvattHenry George Ivatt, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway 1946-1948. CME of BR (London Midland Region) 1948-1951 2-6-0 'Mickey Mouse' or a GW MogulLocomotive with a 2-6-0 wheel configuration,[4] although on one occasion it was photographed at Longville on the Much Wenlock branch behind future SVRSevern Valley Railway resident 5764.[3] When not in use, it was housed in its own shed at Burnt Mill Siding, just on the Severn Valley branch beyond Burnt Mill Junction.[4]

80972 in preservation

80972 entered preservation in 1973 at the Birmingham Railway Museum (now Tyseley Locomotive Works). While there it made several outings behind 7029 Clun Castle, including visits to the SVRSevern Valley Railway. It arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway on 13 December 2005, having been bought by Phil and Caroline Swallow, owner of SR 34027 Taw Valley and members of the Great Western (SVR) Association.[3]

In February 2007 it underwent an overhaul. New upholstery and carpets were fitted, the four settees being re-covered within the vehicle as they cannot be extracted without removing windows. Other work included the installation of stainless steel roof tanks for the lavatory and kitchen, and repairs to floor joists and one table to remedy breakages inherited when the vehicle was purchased.[5] Following the 2007 Storm Damage, SVRSevern Valley Railway Patron HRH The Duke of Gloucester visited the SVRSevern Valley Railway on 3 October and 80972 was used to form a 'royal train' hauled by 4566 between Kidderminster and Bewdley, the only section of line in use at the time.

Further internal work was carried out in 2009 on both 80972 and sister coach 80969 to bring them up to the same standard. Items fitted to 80972 to match those in 80969 included two cup holders manufactured in-house, an Iroko tray fitted over the heater covers to prevent cups and wine glasses placed there by guests sliding off when the locomotive brakes, and small mats let into the carpet at the four doorways. The ceiling cladding around the water tank in the kitchen also received attention.[6]

80972 is used as an Observation Car, normally being attached to the end of a rake of carriages for private hire or ‘cream tea’ specials. For the 2017 Christmas services it became known as the "Shrewsbury Saloon". It seats up to 23 people and is furnished with armchairs, settees and tables in the two saloons, which are separated by a corridor off which are found a toilet, small kitchen and guard’s office. It is finished in plain BRBritish Rail or British Railways(W) chocolate and cream livery with no insignia, and is numbered W80972W (BRBritish Rail or British Railways practice was to include a prefix showing the area to which the carriage was allocated and a suffix for inherited carriages indicating the company of origin).

It was repainted in Bridgnorth Loco Works paint shop during 2020[7].

Dapol OO gauge model

In 2023 Rails of Sheffield and Dapol Black Label announced a model of 80972 (ref. BL-201-006) planned for 2024 in GWRGreat Western Railway Chocolate and Cream with 'twin cities' crest[8].

See also


  1. Harris (1966) p. 120.
  2. Longworth (2018) p.171.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 155 'New Arrivals' (Hugh McQuade)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Letter in SVRSevern Valley Railway News 154
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 158
  6. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 168
  7. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 210
  8. Rails of Sheffield (Retrieved 2 June 2023)