Caledonia Works is a developer that has been around in the Train Simulator world for a few years now, and they have forged a reputation for producing some pretty remarkable and well-detailed add-ons for the simulator. One of the most interesting add-ons that they have produced is the GWR 8000 Class, also known as the Cathedrals.
The Cathedral class and the pack itself
What makes the Cathedral class so interesting is that this class of engine was never actually built. The Cathedrals were drawn up by GWR Chief Mechanical Engineer Frederick W. Hawksworth in 1941, as a design for a new class of 4-6-2 Pacific locomotive. However, with the Second World War in progress and costs needing to be reduced post-war, the class never made it off the drawing board.
Had they been built, they no doubt would have been the most powerful class of engine that the Great Western Railway ever built, rivalling the likes of the Duchesses, Bulleid Pacifics, and Gresley A4s from their rivals. Fictional models of the real engines and artists impressions show them to be some of the most imposing locomotives to never be produced.
Caledonia Works have therefore taken a bit of artistic license with the pack for Train Sim 2021. The pack features 20 examples of the Cathedral class, in various liveries. These range from GWR Lined Green and Unlined Green, right up to British Railways liveries of BR Express Blue, Ultramarine, Apple Green, and Brunswick Green plus some weathered examples. Single chimney and double chimney examples of the class have been created, similar to how the GWR Castles and Kings had single and double chimneys. A range of quick drives have been included in the pack, as well as 22 headboards, 3D firebox and coal, and scripting from Locomotion.
Detailing of the Cathedrals
Caledonia Works produce some of the most detailed and well-polished models currently available for Train Simulator, and the Cathedral is no exception. The engines are meticulously detailed, which is all the more impressive given no examples were ever built. Names and numberplates are recreated with 3D letters and numbers, and the texturing on the model is some of the most crisp and clear that can be found on a TS 2021 model.
The model itself is spectacular, with the famous GWR Coppertop modelled and all the various handrails and rivet details replicated too. Looking at the engine in TS, it is quite an imposing machine, and it certainly makes you wonder what it would have been like if this class had actually been built for real. Soundwise, whilst no Cathedral class existed, the pack has authentic GWR sounds recorded from various locomotives in preservation.
Inside is a beautifully crafted cab, featuring all the GWR design features such as the single gauge glass, right-hand side regulator and screw reverser, and the lack of a fully enclosed cab rear, plus the usual GWR gauges. It is a fantastically well-detailed cab.
Driving the Cathedral class
Whilst the model is fantastic, the one area that lets the pack down is the driving side of things. With an add-on from Bossman Games you get some of the most advanced scripting yet seen on a TS add-on which, whilst making it quite hard to drive, results in an incredibly rewarding driving experience. The same can’t be said for the Caledonia Works Cathedral class.
The scripting from Caledonia Works is much simpler. The firebox and injectors can be maintained at the click of a button, and there is no simulated steam chest. This refers to the delay that occurs from the regulator opening and then the steam travelling into the chamber, from where it is then distributed into the cylinder of the engine. More simply, it’s the delay between when the regulator is opened to when the engine starts moving.
With the Cathedral, the power is available instantly, which isn’t at all realistic for a steam locomotive. There are, however, some advanced features, such as a reversing lock, ejector operation for the brakes, and realistic steaming characteristics for such a big engine. However, the engine overall provides a very simple driving experience and is much more forgiving to drive than with the Bossman Games add-on. That itself isn’t an issue, as sometimes it’s nicer to drive something that is a bit easier, but when there isn’t even a steam chest simulated – a core feature of any steam locomotive – it doesn’t make for the best driving experience.
There is no doubt that the Cathedral class pack from Caledonia Works is a comprehensive and detailed affair that offers a lot for your £14.99. The pack is well-detailed, offers plenty of variation and customisation, and is an impressive piece of work given that the class never existed in real life. However, the lack of advanced simulation will be something of a turn-off for many, marking this down to a four out of five. Advanced scripting isn’t everything, but it is a strange omission on such a large class of locomotive.