GWR Cabside Guide


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Railway companies needed ways to identify their various engines and so they were all numbered in some way or another. This could be by numbers painted on the front or on the sides of the engines cab,  otherwise by cast iron or, more usually, brass plates which were displayed on the sides of the Loco cab.

The company that made most use of the Cabside plates was the Great Western Railway who numbered their locos with 2 Brass or Cast Iron plates on either side of the cab. Early ones had GWR on top and a number below and later ones just a 4 digit number.

A nicely presented Brass Grange Cabside from our September 2006 auction

In 1948 when the railways were nationalized British Railways couldn’t face the task of removing all these cabside plates in order to use 5 digit numbers as had happened with all other regions and so the new Western Region kept 4 digit numbers and their cabside plates.

As a general rule the early plates were brass and the later ones Cast Iron but this is by no way universal and we hope to soon produce lists showing which plates were brass and which cast iron.

Because GWR cabsides were kept on until the end of steam and with two on each loco there are plenty around.  They are readily available in auction or privately from about £500 for a Cast Iron plate of a Pannier Tank to £10,000+ for the sort after Brass plates from a King.

For a list of the Top 5 Prices in Auction for Cabsides click here.


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