Introduced as one of the first of the GWR standard classes, these magnificent engines, the pioneer 2-8-0's in Britain, were immediately successful and set the standard for the majority of heavy goods locomotives until the end of steam. Never glamorous but very reliable and powerful, they were used throughout the system. By 1919, when production temporarily stopped, 84 had been built. After 1938, when the design was slightly modified by Collett a further 83 were constructed, to finally complete the class by 1942.
The class was designed to handle long distance Heavy Freight trains, so their average job would have been to haul large rakes of wagons (probably around 500 tons) at speed around 20-30 mph over distances of 100-200 miles. Most of the engines were allocated to the South Wales, Wolverhampton and London Divisions. They were all shedded at main line depots as their axle loadings kept them off most branch lines; also their wheelbase limited their use in the Welsh Valleys.
Eighteen of the class were, by order of the government, converted between 1945 and 1947 to burn oil fuel. These were renumbered from 4800, but reverted to their old numbers as the equipment was soon removed as the country ran out of foreign exchange needed to buy the oil!
3822 was outshopped at Swindon on 25th April 1940 at a total cost of £6,640.00, and she was then shedded to Llanelli. She was always allocated to South Wales sheds, the longest period being at Pontypool Road (1947-1960). She was withdrawn from Cardiff East Dock on 15thJanuary 1964 and sent to Woodham Brothers scrapyard at Barry on 25th March 1964. The GWS purchased the engine during the summer of 1975, and she left Barry on the evening of 21st March 1976, arriving at Didcot the following morning.
A group of GWS members then formed the Heavy Freight Group to restore the engine, which they financed themselves from sponsorship, donations and sales. She first ran again under her own steam in June 1985. The livery she is now carrying (Black with GWR on the tender), is one that she had during the war years with the side windows sheeted over to reduce the risk of air attacks. The group has also made a replica of the blackout sheets that cover the back of the cab, but these are not used when the engine is running.
3822 was taken out of service in 1995 for her ten yearly boiler examination and overhaul which was completed with the engine being relaunched into traffic on the 16th March 2002.
The locomotive was taken out of traffic in March 2010, and will now require another full boiler overhaul, before performing at Didcot once more.