Hornby Castle class ‘Tintagel Castle’ review

Over the years that LocoYard.com has been doing his model railway reviews he has featured most of the big express locomotives from the “Big Four” railway companies. The Southern Railway had its Merchant Navy’s, the LNER had its A4, the LMS had the Streamlined Coronation class and finally the Great Western had its Castle class.  These beautiful machines from Swindon have sadly managed to escape LocoYards collection and I aim to plug that hole in the sites reviews (which is very much appreciated – Dave!) .  LocoYard has already reviewed several GWR locomotives with 4 of them receiving 5 stars (Bachmanns City of Truro,  49xx Hall, 56xx and the 57xx classes)  so it’s time to see if Hornby model of the best of the Great Western and can live up to Bachmann’s brilliant GWR standards.

LocoYard has already done a brilliant blog on the Castle class featuring photos of 4073 Caerphilly Castle which can be found here. 5011 Tintagel Castle herself was outshopped on the 31st July 1927 , from the legendary GWR Swindon Works and begun its’ working life at 83A Newton Abbot. Over its’ career it hauled many famous trains including one recorded run on the Cheltenham Flyer which had an average of 80+mph.  Her career ended when she was withdrawn from BR service on the 30th September 1962 from Old Oak Common. Sadly she did not escape the cutters torch and was cut up by Cashmores of Newport on the 31st December 1962.


Class: GWR 4073 Castle Class

Use: Express Passenger

Region: Western

Era: 1923-1965

Preserved examples

4073 – Caerphilly Castle – National Railway Museum – Swindon Steam Railway Museum

4079 – Pendennis Castle – Great Western Society – Didcot Railway Centre

5029 – Nunney Castle – Jeremy Hosking -Tyseley Locomotive Works

5043 – Earl of Mount Edgcumbe – Birmingham Railway Museum – Tyseley Locomotive Works

5051 – Earl Bathurst – Great Western Society – Didcot Railway Centre

5080 – Defiant – Birmingham Railway Museum – Buckinghamshire Railway Centre

7027 – Thornbury Castle – Pete Waterman – Crewe Heritage Centre

7029 – Clun Castle – Birmingham Railway Museum – Tyseley Locomotive Works

Manufacturer: Hornby

Motor: 5 pole Loco-drive

Power: Heavyweight

DCC options: 8 pin dcc ready

Locoyard Review


Detailing: 5/5

After owning various Castles toolings over the years my initial impression is just wow. The new Hornby Castle is light years ahead of its predecessor with its improved rivet detail, cab detail, draincocks/cylinder pipes and the addition of various steam pipes along the locomotive. The locomotive is built to a very high standard with my only criticism being that the floor plate between the cab and the tender is a bit fragile.

Outline/Looks: 5/5

The overall looks of the castle are perfect but like the 5 star Bachmann GWR locos the only downside is the moulded coal in the tender. However unlike the Bachmann models the Hornby Castle has removable coal in the tender so we are able to easily add real coal instead.


Finish/Decoration: 4.5/5

The finish is another area where the new Castle has improved upon the old ones as the GWR Green has more depth and the lining is far more crisp. The lining is a little thick compared to prototype but still a big improvement on previous models.

Running Qualities: 5/5

The castle is an extremely smooth runner and ran brilliantly straight out of the box. The locomotive has pick ups on the 3 drive axles on the locomotive and the 3 tender axles which contributes to the locomotives smooth performance.


Relative Power: 5/5

Power is something this locomotive has in spades and comfortably hauled a train of 18 coaches. In terms of performance she out hauled the Hornby A4 and the Bachmann A1 which have should have more prototypical power.

Specification: 5/5

The castle has everything that you would expect from a modern 00 scale model including NEM coupling’s, detail’s, a good motor excellent decoration.  DCC fitting is very simple and has lots of room in the tender if you wish to add sound.


Value: 4.5/5

The Castles have a typical RRP of £120 but I was able to pick up both “Tintagel Castle” and the limited edition “Great Western” for brand new for £90 a piece. For that price the locomotives are bargains when you see that the average RailRoad locomotive has an RRP of around £70.

Overall Locoyardometer Score: 4.9

Hornby have done a brilliant job with the best of the Great Western and  is consistently very good in all aspects – looks, decoration, performance and value and deserves it’s five star rating.  I would even go as far as seeing that its the Great Western locomotive on the market.

5 Star

Detailometer 5, Outlineometer 5, Finishometer 4.5, Motorometer 5, Powerometer 5, Specometer 5, Valueometer 4.5, Locoyardometer 4.9

6 thoughts on “Hornby Castle class ‘Tintagel Castle’ review

  1. Hi Simon,

    Does this new castle class chassis/design/finishing quality allow it to handle 2nd radius curves OK, both clockwise and anti-clockwise, without excessive wheel wobble, flanges rubbing against brake pads, etc? If the main drive wheels can’t arc correctly/freely due to internal or external obstruction due to bad chassis construction/design/fit it will accentuate any axle movement, uneven/warped flanges, etc, creating bad performance on curves.

    I only ask as I had similar issues with a Grange Class recently, shying me away from Hornby and back to Branchline once again (As much as I want a Tintagel Castle for my Great Western collection ).

    Thanks again and keep up the reviews, they are very helpful, Glenn (Australia).

    P.S. If the wheels can’t arc correctly/freely on corners, due to any obstruction (Internal or external), it will most likely be the back or front set of the drive wheels that will display these annoying qualities and creating performance issues.


  2. Hi again Simon,

    It took 4 years but I finally purchased one of the new Castle Class locomotives by Hornby (R3105 – Wellington). It did however arrive with a couple of issues which I am hoping you could shed some light from your own experience as a collector.

    1 It’s forward running straight from the box is great, but Its backwards running is very sluggish. When running backwards half the wheel rotation is fine but the other half of the wheel rotation strains and slows down with a bit of a gurgling sound coming from inside the chassis. Causing a sluggish, pulsating operating movement when running at any reasonable realistic speed backwards.

    2 Different sets of the tender’s wheels are often not rolling. They seem to be dragging or stuck at times instead of rolling freely.

    I hope you have had/seen similar in your time collecting Hornby locos and have some advise/suggestions/remedies. I have spotted Hornby locos on YouTube, etc, with the newer tender design (base plate) having the same issues with the tender wheels previously. I do have video of the issues if you would like a look for better analysis.

    Thanks for the regular advent calender’s.

    Cheers and all the best from down here, Glenn.


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