One of the most handsome locomotives that can be seen at Field Place is Compton Manor. She is not just a good or even excellent model, she is as perfect a miniature replica that you could wish to see on any 5 inch gauge track anywhere. Look at the detail, the rivets on the tender are exactly where they are on the full size Manors. I am told that unlike the majority of tenders the ones for the Manors were not made specifically for the locomotive but instead they were given whatever was available on the day of work. Hence a close look at this replica faithfully shows that the tender was “built” before the Manors were even thought of.
By the late 1930 the Great Western Railway has two very successful 4-6-0 locomotives suitable for mixed traffic namely the Grange Class and Hall Class but these were too heavy to be used on cross country and branch lines where the previous 4300 class has reigned supreme.
Out of this need for a lighter locomotive the Swindon works designed a lighter boiler and by employing the motion an wheels from withdrawn 4300 class were able to meet the requirements of a lighter but powerful enough locomotive to be used throughout the region. So by January 1938 the Manor class made it first appearance.
Initially the performance of the Manors was not that outstanding but much needed improvements were soon identified but the outbreak of WW2 delayed these being implemented until the 1950's.
The first releases went to depots at Wolverhampton, Bristol, Gloucester, Shrewsbury, Westbury and Neyland in South Wales. Subsequently, the class were used over the main lines of the Cambrian Railways which covered a large area of mid Wales, with its headquarters and works in Oswestry. The Manors were also successfully used in the West Country where they were used for banking and piloting trains over the Devon banks between Newton Abbot and Plymouth. Their light axle loading also allowed them across the Tamar Bridge and on to the branch lines of Cornwall.
The first Manor to be withdrawn was in April 1963 and which ironically was cut up at Swindon. By May 1965 the numbers had been halved and the final two in service, were condemned in December 1965. Remarkably, for a relatively small class where thirty engines were built, nine examples have been preserved.