Living Museum of the Great Western Railway


18000 is one of a pair of prototype gas turbine power engines ordered by the GWR from private companies but were not delivered until after the big four railway companies, as they were called, had been nationalised.

18000 was constructed by Brown Boveri in Switzerland and spent its working life hauling trains from Paddington before being withdrawn from service as uneconomic in 1960.

The locomotives, as one-off’s, were both unreliable and prone to failures and spent much of their short working lives in Swindon works either being repaired or modified.

After with withdrawal 18000 was offered to the European Office for Research and Development and was moved back to Switzerland, where the gas turbine was removed and the locomotive modified to be an unpowered test bed.

Once these experiments were concluded the locomotive was put on display outside the Mechanical Engineering Testing building in Vienna in 1975.

The loco was eventually secured for preservation in the UK in the early 1990s and Initially put on display at the Crewe Heritage Centre and after a spell at the G&WSR was  moved to Didcot Railway Centre in 2011.

The loco has acquired the nickname 'Kerosene Castle'.

In early 2022 it was announced that work would begin on a two year conservation project to repair corrosion on the bodywork, and return the locomotive to the black and silver livery it carried when first in service.

Ian Blair was involved in the research programme in the 1970s when 18000 operated on the continent for research into wheel-rail contact and has kindly provided information and photos relating to that period.


Static Display
Build date
Built at
Brown Boveri, Switzerland
Original railway
British Railways
Wheel arrangement
Power class
BR Class 4
Tractive effort
31,500 pounds
115 tons
Wheel diameter
4 feet 0.25 inches
DC Generator and Traction Motors
Traction Motors
Max Speed
90 mph

No. 18000 as a Testbed for Research into Wheel-Rail contact

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