GWR 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall
In the 2000s the locomotive achieved fame after it was used to haul the "Hogwarts Express" in the Harry Potter series of films.
Built in April 1937 at Swindon railway works for the Great Western Railway, she was first allocated to Neath, South Wales. In August 1950 she was moved by British Railways to Carmarthen. After being fitted with a three row superheater at Swindon, she was allocated to Plymouth Laira TMD. Her last shed allocation was to Cardiff East Dock, before she was withdrawn in December 1963, and acquired by Woodham Brothers, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan for scrap in May 1964.
The locomotive operates with a set of matched coaching stock, also owned by West Coast Railways. In September 2003 vandals covered two of the carriages with graffiti which had to be removed at a cost of £3,000.
Since 2004 private tour operator Beyond Boundaries Travel has commissioned the train each summer for use on its Harry Potter Fan Trips tours of the United Kingdom. On 11 March 2007 vandals again targeted the coaches, causing £75,000 worth of damage at West Coast Railway Company's depot in Carnforth. Ten youths, aged between twelve and fourteen years, were arrested in connection with the incident — in which 337 windows on several coaches were smashed.
In the films the locomotive is depicted pulling a train of four carriages. Scenes were filmed inside King's Cross railway station, crossing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland and at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway — along with internal scenes on board the train.
When filming, "Olton Hall" carries a "Hogwarts Express" headboard on the smokebox, featuring the Hogwarts School crest. The same emblem is featured as part of the Hogwarts Railways' sigil on the tender and carriages. She retains her GWR number of 5972, but with alternative nameplates fitted, naming the engine "Hogwarts Castle". She is painted in a maroon livery — a non-standard colour, as Great Western Railway locomotives traditionally used Brunswick Green.
"Olton Hall" is not the first real locomotive to be disguised for hauling the Hogwarts Express. To promote the first Harry Potter books, Southern Railway West Country Class locomotive "Taw Valley" was temporarily repainted and renamed. It was rejected by film director Chris Columbus as looking "too modern" for the film but carried the name and colour for some months later.
The renaming as "... Castle" has become a railway preservation joke: "..the Hall that thinks it's a Castle". The Great Western Railway Castle Class engines were a larger type of locomotive.
Somewhat ironically, the Hornby Railways model of the locomotive is actually a model of a Castle class locomotive not a Hall.
5972 is sometimes used for work other than her "Hogwarts" duties. In May 2009 she was moved temporarily to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, and in July 2009 she was based at Tyseley for use on some of the regular "Shakespeare Express" trains run by Vintage Trains during the Summer. 5972 returned to the G&WR during their annual Wizard's Weekend event in 2010. Late 2011 saw the Loco on static display in Hyde Park, London still in her 'Hogwarts' red livery.