The Class 72XX was designed by Charles Benjamin Collett, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway (GWR). It was a rebuild of Class 42XX, later Class 52XX originally designed by George Jackson Churchward CBE former CME of the GWR.
The 42XX Class had been developed specifically for transporting very heavy loads of coal from the coal mines to the ports in South Wales. Some of the Class were rebuilt in the 1920’s and reclassified as Class 52XX. In the 1930’s it was decided to further rebuild some of the locomotives. By adding 4' to the frame and a trailing radial axle and wheels these changes increased their coal carrying capacity, thus creating the first 2-8-2Tank locomotive to be built in Britain. These locomotives were the largest tank engines to run on the GWR.
The rebuilt locomotives weighed 92 tons 12 cwt, and had a fuel capacity of 7 tons plus a water capacity of 2,500 Imperial gallons. They were fitted with Stephenson (Piston valve) Gear and had a boiler pressure of 200 psi with a tractive effort of 33,170 lbs. The locomotives were also fitted with two 19'' x 30'' outside cylinders.
A total of 54 were rebuilt between August 1934 and December 1939, starting with No. 5275 which was renumbered as 7200 when it returned to traffic in August 1934. Despite their weight the Class worked most parts of the GWR network and the Home counties carrying iron ore and stone. Withdrawal began in November 1962 with No. 7241, the last 4 being withdrawn in June 1965.
The locomotive represented in this pack, No. 7218 entered traffic on 30th November 1934 and was withdrawn from shed 84C Banbury on 30th September 1964. On the 30th November 1964 Cohens of Kettering cut up locomotive No. ‘7218’.