On January 1st 1948, the former 'Big Four' railway companies: London North Eastern Railway (LNER); London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMSR); Great Western Railway (GWR) and Southern Railway (SR) were amalgamated to form the new British Railways. A total of 20,211 steam locomotives were taken into State ownership consisting of: 1,838 from the SR, 3,856 from the GWR, 6,525 from the LNER, and 7,805 from the LMSR. The rest was made up of service engines and Departmental locomotives. At the same time six new BR Regions were formed, their new boundaries corresponding closely to the lines of the former 'Big Four' railway companies. Britain's railways was now made up of the Western Region, Southern Region, Scottish Region, Eastern Region, North Eastern Region and London Midland Region - the old LNER being divided amongst the two newly-formed Regions - Eastern and North Eastern, whilst the Scottish Region was composed partly of the former LMS and LNER.
(Above-Insert-Below) During steam days, the 'Cathedrals Express' was hauled by both Worcester and Old Oak 'Castles' between Paddington and Oxford, Worcester and Hereford. The titled train first appeared in the Western Region timetable on 16th September 1957, departing Hereford at 06.43 and returning at 18.22 from Paddington. Here 'Castle' class No 7007 Great Western heads the down 'Cathedrals Express' through Tilehurst on 29th July 1961. (Inset) A nameplate from 7007 went under the hammer at a recent Great Central Railwayana Auction. Originally named Ogmore Castle, No 7007 was the last of the Castles built by the GWR at Swindon in July 1946, therefore it was an appropriate choice of loco for renaming (to commemorate the passing of the old GWR) when BR's Western Region was formed in January 1948. Allocated initially to Stafford Road, then Old Oak Common, 7007 moved to Worcester in February 1950 where it remained until withdrawal during the week ending 16th February 1963. It was sold for scrap to Cashmores at Great Bridge in December 1963. Added to the splasher beneath the nameplate of 7007, was the coats of arms of the cities of London and Bristol (linked in the arms of Great Western Railway) as a reminder of the committees in both cities responsible for founding the company. The GCRA image shows the nameplate displayed on an original Castle Class splasher, with the GWR coat of arms added. This Lot was accompanied by a considerable volume of correspondence between the late owner and Swindon Works regarding the purchase of the nameplate and the splasher. (Below) This Barry Hilton photograph shows 7007 heading the 'Cathedrals Express' through Reading on 24th April 1962.
(Above-Below) Over the years, the Regional boundaries diminished significantly as many locomotives (from an operational standpoint) worked beyond their arbitrary Regions, so in many ways it is meaningless to classify any particular class of locomotive as belonging to any one of the six Regions during the transition from steam. For example, it was not unusual to find LMS Ivatt Moguls working alongside more traditional ex-GWR engines at places like Barmouth (above) situated well outside the Region they were initially allocated. (Below) Ex-LMS Class 8F trundles a mixed freight through the WR's station at Birmingham Snow Hill.
From 1948, steam locomotives were carrying their new BR numbers with the exception of the Great Western engines which retained their brass and cast iron cabside number plates below 10,000. The Southern engines were numbered in the 30,000s, the LMSR in the 40,000s and 50,000s, and the LNER engines appeared in the 60,000s. The new renumbering scheme also embraced a small number of diesel locomotives (mostly 0-6-0 shunters belonging to the former LMSR and LNER) which were allocated the numbered series in the 10,000s, while a small quantity of electric and gas turbine locomotives appeared in the 20,000s. Finally, the batch of WD 'Austerity' freight locomotives, built to Ministry of Supply design, and working on loan at the time of nationalisation, were purchased by BR in early 1949 and renumbered in the 90,000s.
Above) This locomotive nameplate 'Littleton Hall' (stamped 'L' on the back indicating the left hand plate) together with a matching cabside number plate, as carried by ex-GWR 4-6-0 4900 'Hall' Class loco 4939, was sold for £6,000 at Sheffield Railwayana Auctions in December 2009. Built at Swindon in July 1929 the loco was withdrawn from Didcot in February 1963.
(Right) GWR locomotive nameplate 'Earl Bathurst' together with a matching cabside numberplate, went under the hammer at a Sheffield Railwayana Auction for £11,000. Built at Swindon in May 1930, the GWR 4-6-0 'Castle Class' No 5051 was initially named 'Drysllwyn Castle but later renamed 'Earl Bathurst' in 1937. The loco spent a good many years based at Landore 87E in South Wales, followed by a brief spell at Neath and finally Llanelly from where it was withdrawn in May 1963 and despatched to meet its fate at Woodham Bros, Barry in October 1963. However, scrapping did not take place and the loco was bought by Great Western Society members at Didcot for preservation. It left Barry in February 1970 (the fourth loco to be saved there) and was restored at Didcot. Following preservation, the loco can now be found at the Tyseley Railway Museum, Birmingham.
(Above-Below) Another view of Birmingham Snow Hill with FW Hawksworth's 'County' class 4-6-0 No 1029 County of Worcester, the last of 30 members of the class, awaiting departure on 30th June 1953. By the end of 1948, many locomotives were carrying their new BR numbers with the exception of the Western Region engines which retained their attractive GWR brass and cast iron cabside number plates below 10,000. See 'Castle' class 5063 Earl Baldwin (left) and a humble 0-6-0PT No 5746 (right). British Railways eventually chose a dark Brunswick Green (lined out in black and orange) for BR's fleet of express-passenger engines. Consequently, little had changed on the Western Region since GWR days. The photo below shows a clean-looking 'King' class No 6022 sporting a double chimney and carrying the second BR emblem consisting of the British lion rising from a crown holding a driving wheel in its front paws. Beneath it 'Castle' class 4-6-0 No 5028 Llantilio Castle with the BR's first 'Lion and Wheel' totem (1948-1956) on the tender side.
(Above) Whilst the GWR's dark Brunswick Green survived for use on BR's express passenger engines, the choice of black livery with a red, cream and grey lining for locomotives designated mixed traffic, and an even duller unlined black livery for its freight and shunting classes can hardly be described as adventurous. When George Jackson Churchward was CME at Swindon (1902-1921) he equipped the Great Western Railway with nine locomotive classes ranging from 2-6-2Ts, through 2-6-0 and 4-6-0 mixed traffic and express passenger locomotives, to 2-8-0 heavy freight engines of both tank and tender varieties. This Class 28xx No 2803 was photographed at Swindon in June 1950.
RECONNAISANCE WITH A CAMERA
Photos Richard S Greenwood MBE
(Above-Inset-Below) Memories of steam days on the former Great Western main line from Paddington to Bristol and the West of England…on Saturday 29th July 1961 Richard Greenwood availed himself of his trusty Leica 3A camera and paid a visit to Tilehurst and Twyford to photograph the fast diminishing rank and file of steam; the WR was one of the first Regions to completely dispense with the services of steam. Opened on 1 July 1839, the original station at Twyford was once the terminus of Brunel's Great Western (Broad Gauge) main line from Paddington, served by nine trains per day. The layout of the station included an engine shed which had been moved from Maidenhead, the first terminus out of London. Following completion of Sonning Cutting on 30th March 1840, the broad gauge line was extended to Reading and the timber station buildings at Twyford were replaced by more substantial brick and stone buildings with an all-round canopy. At the same time the platforms were altered to serve the new through running lines. (Above) Here 'Castle' class No 7006 Lydford Castle approaches Twyford at speed with a Hereford to Paddington express. (Inset) An unidentified 'Castle' class heads an up train through Twyford on the same day. Of interest to modellers is the paraphernalia on the platform: the layout of the flower beds edged in stone, the cast concrete lamp posts, fluted home signal and the enamel chocolate and cream station sign - 'Twyford. Junction for Henley-on-Thames' (the Henley Branch was opened in 1857). (Below) Adding to the loco variety at Twyford, 2-6-2T No 6136 heads bunker first on the 'up' relief line with a train of mineral wagons.
(Above-Below) The demise of Brunel's broad gauge in 1892 gave the Great Western Railway the opportunity to quadruple the main line as far as Didcot, and as a result Twyford station was completely reconstructed. Some of these improvements are still visible today; the current station has 5 platforms, consisting of 1 and 2 on the 'fast' Reading-London lines and Platforms 3 and 4 on the 'relief line'. Platform 5 is a bay platform serving the Henley Branch. Here 'Castle' class No 5041 Tiverton Castle heads non-stop through platform 2 with an 'up' express on 29th July 1961. Fast-forward twenty-odd years to 1975 and the platforms 1 and 2 were altered to reduce the curve through the station to accommodate the new 125mph High Speed Trains. (Below) The complex new track layout in 1840 required the construction of two signal boxes East and West, to replace the old one on the up platform. In 1961 the trackwork was simplified and the two signal boxes were decommissioned and replaced by a single box between the up relief and branch lines. This box lasted until 1972, when all signalling control was transferred to Reading. Here 5987 Brocket Hall and 5945 Leckhampton Hall double-head an up passenger train at Twyford on 29th July 1961. The goods yard and cattle dock closed in 1965 and the site cleared to provide car parking for commuters.
(Above) Express from Paddington approaches Twyford on the down fast line behind BR Britannia Class 7 Pacific No 70016 Ariel, one of the new BR 'Britannias' allocated to the WR. When British Railways was formed in 1948, the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission (BTC) set about the design and construction of twelve new 'standard' steam classes, the first being the 'Britannia' Class 7MT Pacific locomotives (Nos 70000-70024) built at Crewe in 1951. The first batch of 15 were allocated to the Eastern Region (eight to Stratford and seven to Norwich) for use on the GE line's expresses, whereas No 70016 Aerial was among the second batch of ten locomotives allocated to the Western Region. However, the WR crews at Old Oak Common, Plymouth Laira and Newton Abbot Depots didn't take to them and the locos were finally concentrated on Cardiff Canton. The WR 'Britannias' were easily distinguished by their smoke deflector modification. This followed a serious accident involving WR 'Britannia' class No 70026 Polar Star whilst working a Treherbert-Paddington excursion on November 20th 1955. The driver failed to slow for a crossover at Milton near Didcot (after misreading the signals) and cancelled the AWS warning. As a consequence the loco and several carriages were derailed causing 11 fatalities and 157 injuries. During the inquiry, a contributory factor was that the driver's forward vision had been obscured by the smoke deflector handrails. This resulted in the handrails on the WR batch being replaced by 6 cut-outs (handholds) in each deflector sheet, the majority being brass-lined, which added to the overall look of the WR engines. They were also kept in beautiful condition by staff at Cardiff Canton MPD (see 'Western Region 2' Page 69). (Below) The following photos were taken by Richard during a visit to Tilehurst station just west of Reading, the first showing 'Castle' class No 5099 Compton Castle heading up 'Capitals United Express'. The titled train name was originally used between 1956 and 1963 by the Western Region for the service between Paddington and Cardiff-Swansea to highlight the importance of the rail link between the capitals of England and Wales.
(Above-Below) Sporting a Worcester (85A) shedplate on its polished smokebox door, 'Grange class No 6807 Birchwood Grange approaches Tilehurst with a Nottingham train. Built in September 1936, No 6807 was withdrawn from Worcester in December 1963 and scrapped at King & Son of Norwich. (Below) One of Collett's thirty 'Modified Halls' in the (79XX) 7900-7929 numbered series approaches Tilehurst with a Newcastle-Bournemouth train. Built in February 1950, No 7911 was named Lady Margaret Hall after one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford. The loco was fitted with BR type piston valves and liners in May 1957 but by the time this photo was taken in July 1961 the loco had reverted back to the WR standard. Sported an Oxford (81F) shedcode on the smokebox door, she was withdrawn from Oxford in December 1963 and scrapped at Bird's of Newport. Footnote: Founded in 1878, Lady Margaret Hall was the first women's college in Oxford; it remained a women's-only college for a hundred years until men were admitted in 1979.
(Above-Below) 'Castle' class No 5044 Earl of Dunraven heads an 'up' train of empty coaching stock. Originally built as Beverston Castle in March 1936, No 5044 was renamed in September 1937. Her first shed was Old Oak Common and the last shed Cardiff Canton from where she was withdrawn in April 1962. (Below) 'Castle' Class No 5093 Upton Castle heads an up parcels at Tilehurst. Built June 1939, the loco's first (and last) shed allocation was 81A Old Oak Common, from where she was withdrawn September 1963.
(Above-Below) Designed by FW Hawksworth (CME at Swindon 1941-948) the last of his 'County' class - Nos 1000-1029 (the first one introduced in August 1945) became extinct in September 1964. Perhaps Western Region purists will decry this shot of a smoky 1016 County of Hants heading an 'up' express through Tilehurst on Saturday 29th July 1961, but then it makes for a great picture! Built in March 1946, No 1016 was fitted with a modified double chimney in March 1957. The last shed allocation was Shrewsbury, from where she was withdrawn in September 1963 and scrapped at T Ward of Sheffield.
As mentioned above, the GWR 'County' class is now extinct, but all is not lost…established in 2004, the praiseworthy aim of the 1014 County Project is to create, on behalf of the Great Western Society, a County Class locomotive. To achieve this goal the Great Western Society has been granted ownership of major component parts from two donor locomotives: the underframes from 'Modified' Hall class locomotive No 7927 Willington Hall and the boiler from Stanier 8F locomotive No. 48518, which toether will form the basis for the reconstruction. The read the full story (so far) of this commendable project click here to visit the excellent website…maybe you can help?
(Below) Built in December 1945, 'County class No 1010 was not named 'County of Caernarvon' until February 1948 - why did it take so long? Allocated initially to Plymouth Laira, the loco was fitted with a modified double chimney in September 1956. The last shed allocation was Bristol St. Philip's Marsh (82B) from where she was withdrawn February 1963 and scrapped at Swindon Works..
AROUND THE REGION 1
(Above-Below) Little sign of a colour scheme on 'Manor' class No 7925 Lochlade Manor at Oxford on 13th November 1965. (Below) Awaiting caption details...
(Above-Below) One for modellers...rear view of Hawksworth's 'County' Class 6MT No 1028 County of Warwick at Bristol in 1960. (Below) Sporting a Danygraig (87C) shedplate on the smokebox door, Class 3F 0-4-0T No 1105 was one of six engines (Nos 1101-6) built by Avonside Engine Co based on a design to GW requirements for dock shunting. Introduced in 1926 No 1105 is still going strong thirty-odd years later on 14th March 1957. Weighing just 38 tons 4 cwt, the engines had a tractive effort of 19,510lbs.
(Above-Below) Another Danygraig loco, 0-4-0ST No 1151 - one of 2 members in the class - was photographed on 14th March 1957 some fifty years after its introduction in 1907. Weighing just 33 tons 10cwt with a tractive effort of 14,010 lbs, this Class 0F Peckett design was built for the P & M.
(Above-Below) Take a butchers at this shot! Is it any wonder that Western Region fans dubbed their beloved Great Western Railway - 'God's Wonderful Railway'? Taken before nationalisation, Churchward's Class 0F 0-6-0ST No 1362 - built in 1910 specifically for negotiating severe curves during dock shunting duties rests at Newton Abbot shed. Photo copyright L Hanson. (Below) But even older is this diminutive 0-4-0 locomotive 'Tiny' built in 1868 by Sara & Co. The 2-cylinder loco began life as a shunter on the Sutton Harbour Branch at Plymouth and then moved to Newton Abbot until 1883 where she ended her days as a stationary water pumping engine at Newton Abbot locomotive works until the 1920s. After retirement this grand old lady was displayed on the platform at Newton Abbot Station for many years and is the only broad gauge locomotive to survive to the present day. 'Tiny' now forms part of the National Collection at the South Devon Railway Museum in the former goods shed at Buckfastleigh Station.
(Above-Below) CB Collett's 1400 Class 0-4-2T No 1468 on shed at Exeter (83C). (Below) Churchward's successor, CB Collett (1921-1941) was responsible for 17 new locomotive classes, including the Castles, Kings, Granges, Manors and Hall classes. Although his predecessor was a hard act to follow, Collett took the sensible step of improving on Churchward's successful formula, therefore many of his locomotives were of a modified designs as distinct from rebuilds. These included the modified Class 28xx 2-8-0 variants Nos 3800-66 introduced in 1938. Sporting a smokebox numberplate and a Newton Abbot (83A) shed plate, No 3834 is seen with Prairie tank No 5104 and Pannier tank No 8405 at Leamington shed in July 1955.Photo © P R Batty.
(Above-Below) The heavy gang! In 1911, J. G. Robinson, then Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Central Railway between 1900-22, designed a 2-8-0 heavy freight engine in anticipation of the additional traffic being generated by the company's new docks at Immingham and a large marshalling yard at Wath-on-Dearne in the South Yorkshire coalfield. At the outbreak of the First World War, the Robinson design was chosen by the British Army for war service overseas, and a total of 344 was ordered for the Railway Operating Division (ROD) of the Royal Engineers, which commenced operations in Continental Europe in February 1916. It was originally intended to use French and Belgian locomotives but both of these countries intentionally kept their locos away from the Front, hence a variety of British locomotives were quickly conscripted. Then it was decided that standardisation was needed and the Robinson GCR 2-8-0 was adopted. After grouping, no fewer than 421 locos were acquired by the LNER and some were taken into GWR stock immediately after the First World War. Numbered in the 30XXs, they were subsequently fitted with standard GW chimneys, safety valve casings and other boiler mountings - and, as it turned out, they were so well liked by GW railwaymen that they quickly became a standard GW type...indeed it could be argued that the Robinson 2-8-0 was the most successful heavy freight engines of all time. Doubtless I'll be pilloried for saying it on the Western Region page! Click here to visit the excellent LNER Encyclopedia site.
BRISTOL TEMPLE MEADS STATION
Memories of George Heiron's photos in 'Trains Illustrated'
One of the most rewarding parts of building a website is the enjoyment of its creation, but there's also another reason…confessional time now! It gives me the chance to resolve a lifelong dream from childhood days…it is that of a train-mad small boy morphing into a frustrated magazine editor!
Many 1950's spotters will have fond memories of the photo features that appeared in the monthly 'Trains Illustrated' magazine. They were headed by such titles as 'Assault of Shap', 'Sojourn at York' or 'Interlude at Crewe'.
Some will recall the December 1957 issue which featured seven pages of George Heiron's superb Western Region photos taken in the Bristol area; it came under the heading 'Bristol Album'.
Getting to the point...there are no George Heiron photos on this page, but there are quite a few shots of of Bristol Bath Road Steam Shed which will doubtless strike a chord with ex-spotters who remember visiting Temple Meads in the twilight days of steam.
(Inset Above Left) A treasured possession I still have today is the book called 'The Majesty of British Steam' featuring the railway paintings of George F Heiron published by Ian Allan Ltd in 1973. The great man kindly signed it for me during a Railart Exhibition at Leamington Spa. (Inset Right) Another all-time favourite book is 'Portraits of Steam' featuring the paintings and photographs of George F Heiron published by Ian Allan in 2000. The book includes this George Heiron painting of a 'Castle' class departing Bristol Temple Meads in 1936. Comparisons to be made with ER Morten's shot (below) of 'Castle' class No 5076 Gladiator awaiting departure with a train for Paddington on 2nd April 1951.
(Above) ER Morten's 'going away' shot shows 5076 making a spirited exit from Bristol Temple Meads in April 1951. Opened on 31st August 1840, Temple Meads station was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as the western terminus of the Great Western Railway from London Paddington. The station was subsequently used by the Bristol and Exeter Railway, the Bristol and Gloucester Railway, the Bristol Harbour Railway and the Bristol and South Wales Union Railway. To accommodate the increased traffic the station was expanded in the 1870s by Francis Fox, and again in the 1930s by P E Culverhouse. Brunel's original terminus is no longer part of the operational station the site and has since become Grade 1 listed.
(Above-Below) During the early 1950s Bristol Bath Road had an allocation of 93 locomotives, practically all devoted to passenger traffic whereas goods traffic was handled by St Philip's Marsh (82B) which had an allocation of over 140 locomotives. A trio of 'Castle' class locos Nos 5032 Usk Castle, 5092 Tresco Abbey and 5090 Neath Abbey are prepared for duty at 82A. (Below) 'King' Class No 6024 King Edward 1 - with reversed titled train headboard above its smokebox door - receives attention in 1960.
(Above-Below) Hall class No 4936 Kinlet Hall departs with a parcels train. It should be pointed out that some of the photos on this page are reproduced courtesy of Jim Payne's CD which is available from 'www.throughtheireyes2.co.uk'...link at the bottom of page. I am not affiliated with the sale of CDs in any way, merely reproducing what I think are interesting images of Western Region steam for the benefit of model engineers, railway modellers and artists. So many photos show details of locos in varying stages of weathering, unusual freight loads, trackwork and other paraphernalia associated with a busy yard. I must also mention that some images, excellent though the originals are, have been digitally enhanced with sky tones for reproduction exclusively on this website. The subject of Photoshopping can be found on the 'Rail Photo Workshop' Page 46 of this site. (Below) Introduced in 1911, Churchward's 43XX Class 4MT 2-6-0s (GW Power Classification D, route availability Blue) were employed on mixed traffic work on almost all parts of the former GWR system; No 6363 looks in a sorry state at Bristol in 1960.
Between 1930 and 1935 Temple Meads station was expanded eastwards over the old cattle market, and southwards on a new wider bridge across Cattle Market Road and the New Cut of the River Avon. This made room for the addition of five new through platforms, while the removal of the narrow island platforms in the middle of the train shed allowed the main Up and Down platforms to be both widened and lengthened. All the routes approaching Temple Meads were widened to four tracks to allow more flexibility. As part of the modernisation, the four manual signal boxes were replaced by three new Power Signal Boxes, the old semaphore signals replaced by colour light signals and the mechanical point linkages exchanged for point motors. The new Bristol Temple Meads East box was the largest with 368 miniature levers operated by three signalmen, whilst the remaining two boxes were at Bristol Temple Meads West, and one adjacent to the station controlling the movements in and out of the Bath Road Depot. (Below) Introduced to traffic on 30th April 1938, 'Castle' class No 5093 Tresco Abbey was withdrawn from traffic at Cardiff East Dock on 31st July 1963 and disposed of at Cashmores, Newport in October the following year.
(Above-Inset-Below) It was a fifty-fifty decision on whether to feature this train headboard on the 'BR London Midland Region' page or the 'BR Western Region' page, but in the end it was decided to use it on both pages. After all 'The Devonian' was an inter-regional titled train that originated in 1927 and initially applied to the Bradford-Torquay and Paignton section of through coaches, handed over by the LMS to the GWR at Bristol Temple Meads. Following the LMS Midland Division accelerations of 1937 the train departed Bradford at 10:25am arriving Torquay at 6:44pm and Paignton at 6:51pm. The northbound train left Paignton at 9:15am arriving Bradford at 5:54pm. The service came to an end at the outbreak of World War 2, but was restored in October 1946, albeit with an increased journey time. This was not improved upon until the introduction of diesel haulage and the journey time was reduced to just over 8 hours. Latterly a Restaurant Car service was provided between Leeds and Paignton. Here Holbeck's 'Jubilee' class No 45605 Cyprus couples onto the stock of the 'Devonian' at Bristol Temple Meads in June 1960. On 10th September 2011, a cast aluminium BR(M) 'Devonian' headboard measuring 36" x 12½" was sold at Sheffield Railwayana Auctions for £4,500. For serious students of Britain's railway history the auction catalogues provide some fascinating background details on the items for sale. For example, the back metal of the 'Devonian' headboard (right) was stamped with the legend 'Train Name Board W786 26-4-49'. Similar inscriptions applied to the names of other headboards produced to the same dimensions, such as: 'The Red Rose', 'The Red Dragon', 'The Bristolian' and the 'Inter-City'. The back was also stamped with the word 'Bristol' indicating the owning depot. To visit the interesting Sheffield Railwayana website click here
(Above-Below) This is the view of Bristol Bath Road Locomotive Depot from Platform 12 at Temple Meads Station, a scene familiar to young spotters during the 1950s. Bristol Bath Road Shed (coded 82A) was then the principal depot of the Western Region's Bristol Division before it closed to steam on 12th September 1960 and the site subsequently became a Diesel Depot up to 28th September 1995. Platform 12 gave spotters the chance to watch the activities of locos coming and going at the shed. Here 'Castle' class No 5049 Earl of Plymouth (with double chimney and Hawsworth tender) and the single-chimneyed No 5050 Earl of St Germans were photographed in 1960.
(Above-Below) Trains coming and going at Bristol Temple Meads. A couple of spotters watch the arrival of 'Castle' class No 7022 Hereford Castle on 2nd April 1951 (Below) The standardisation policy pursued by GJ Churchward during his tenure as GWR's CME (1902-1921) led to a range of mixed traffic locomotive classes sharing a small number of standard components that were suitable for a majority of duties. Similar to a 'Hall' class, but with smaller coupled wheels and footplate raised over cylinders, a total of eighty members of the 'Grange' class 4-6-0s were built at the Swindon works numbered 6800-6879 in the fleet; the GWR power classification was 'D' and the route availability colour coded red (the class became 5MT during BR days). Here, the penultimate member, No 6878 Longford Grange, has an ample supply of coal, almost dangerously overloaded one might say; it looks as if half the cab is filled with the black stuff!
(Above-Below) Here we feature just two of the 'Castle' class locomotives to be saved from the cutters torch; in all eight members have survived in preservation; they are 4073 Caerphilly Castle, 4079 Pendennis Castle, 5029 Nunney Castle, 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, 5051 Earl Bathurst, 5080 Defiant, 7027 Thornbury Castle and 7029 Clun Castle. (Above) No 4079 Pendennis Castle was among the first batch of ten 'Castles' to be built in 1923-4; the loco emerged from Swindon Works on 4th March 1924 and was allocated to Old Oak Common shed. The locomotive became famous in 1925 when the GWR loaned her to the LNER as part of comparison trials with Gresley's new A1 Pacific Class Pacific, later Class A3. During a number of test runs on the ECML out of King's Cross, she made the ascent to Finsbury Park regularly in less than six minutes, a feat the Pacifics were unable to match. Pendennis Castle also proved to be more economical in both coal and water consumption. Before returning to the GWR, the locomotive was displayed alongside Gresley's Flying Scotsman at the second Wembley Exhibition between May and October 1925. In August 1950 she was allocated to Gloucester shed, then to Bristol (Bath Road) in March 1959; her final shed allocation was Bristol (Saint Philip's Marsh) from where she was withdrawn in May 1964. (Below) Built at Swindon Works in May 1950, 7029 Clun Castle was allocated new to Newton Abbot shed; its last shed allocation being Gloucester in May 1965. Following withdrawal in December of that year the loco was bought for £2,400 (its scrap value) by Patrick Whitehouse in 1966, since then its ownership has passed to 7029 Clun Castle Ltd based at Tyseley TMD, now Tyseley Locomotive Works.
AROUND THE REGION 2
(Above-Below) A variant of Churward's earlier 4500 Class 2-6-2T introduced in 1906, was the 4575 class (later known as the 55XX class) introduced in 1927 with larger side tanks with a sloping front at the front end. Here No 5531 is seen at Plymouth in 1960. (Below) A lesson in 'panning' shots - 'King' Class 4-6-0 6009 King Charles II approaches Bentley Heath Crossing with the 4.30pm Wolverhampton-Paddington express on Sunday 5th July 1959. By the middle of the 1960s, the entire class of Kings, Duchesses, Princess Royals, and Schools became casualties of th e diesel era, leaving just 4,970 steam locomotives at the end of 1964. At the same time, The closure of steam motive power depots in the new inter-regional shed-code renumbering scheme was to radically change the scene. The revision of the six regional boundaries led to the closure of the former Great Central line from Sheffield to London after it was transferred from the ER to the LMR. The same fate befell the Somerset & Dorset line over the Mendips when it was transferred from the SR to the WR. Inevitably train services were deliberately run down to facilitate closure, and both routes were destined not to survive the Beeching era…Photo © M Mensing
(Above) A rather grimy 'Hall' class No 5971 Merevale Hall was photographed at Wolverhampton Oxley Road Shed (84B) on 31st March 1965. By this time, the diesel-hydraulics were well to the fore and in view of the deplorable working conditions, shed staff found it difficult to maintain a standard of cleanliness. In this evocative shot, the poor operating conditions are clearly evident, as the offside nameplate is missing, yet the nearside nameplate still remained in place. It begs the question whether No 5971 could have been the last WR steam loco to bear a name by this date. Indeed, with steam in rapid decline BR found it necessary to remove nameplates when their value as collectors items led to unlawful disappearances from steam depots. Doubtless this is the case here - all things considered, the WR would have removed both plates, surely? Photo © M Mensing
(Below) Photographed from the entrance of the car park to Tudor Grange Park (No 6857 in the WR's 6800 class) the driver of 'Hall' class 4-6-0 No 4918 Dartington Hall awaits the right away from Solihull station with a train of empty coaching stock on 3rd September 1960. This Mike Mensing shot brings back special memories for a regular site contributor, Robert Green, who used to play Par 3 golf in Tudor Grange Park and travelled by train to and from his home station of Olton, the next stop down the line from Solihull. Robert writes - 'There is something very unusual about the picture. The train is on the 'down' relief - platform 4-3 island in the background - and is thus at the rear of the train for normal direction. It may have been running wrong line due to engineering work or it may have run round after a shunting move; unusual things did happen at Solihull...' Of further interest are the two advertising hoardings beneath the bridge, which display a variety of interesting posters (from left to right) - a local Revue Bar advertising Folies Striptease three times daily; Swan Vesta matches; Ilford Film; The Regular Army (Guardians of the Peace); the WR's new Blue Pullman service between Birmingham and Paddington; Bottled Beer; Co-op Dividend Stamp and a 1960's advertising slogan I'm sure we'll all remember: the Milk Marketing Board's 'Drink-Pinta-Milka-Day' campaign. Photo © M Mensing
(Above Left-Right-Below) Introduced in 1931, Collett's 0-6-0PT No 5416 simmers in the shed yard at Newport (Ebbw Junction) 86A. (Above Right) Adding to the ex-GWR loco variety, CJ Churchward's '43XX' Class 4MT 2-6-0 No 6397 was photographed amid the rural environs of St Blazey shed 83E. (Below) Churchward's 2-6-2T No 4570 - one of a class of 4MT tank locos introduced in 1906 for light branch work on the GWR - heads a St Erth-St Ives train near Carbis Bay in July 1960. Photo © M Pope
(Above) BR Standard Class 4 No 76040 pauses at Machynlleth on 20th August 1966. The 'BR4' mixed traffic Moguls - numbered 76000-76114 - were derived from the ex-LMS Ivatt Mogul numbered 43000-43162, but the 'BR4' was nothing like as ugly as their progenitors. Perhaps by the time the 'BR4' appeared in traffic, those steam enthusiasts brought up on a diet of asthetically-pleasing locomotives (brass nameplates mounted on curved footplates upswept over driving wheels) had grown accustomed to the stark appearance of the new Cox/Riddles standard designs? The 'BR4s' low axle loading of under 17 tons gave them a wide route availability, but by the mid-1960s the volume of traffic on many secondary routes was rapidly decreasing and a more useful Standard Class 3 type would have sufficed. Indeed, had Churchward still been alive - or Collett, for that matter - both men would have turned in their grave at the very un-Great Western look of the new engines (Swindon Works designed and built the 'BR3' mixed traffic 2-6-0 engines Nos 77000-77019, using a slightly shortened version of the Swindon standard 'No2' boiler, as fitted to the large GWR 'Prairie' tanks (51XXs) and 0-6-2 tanks in the 56XX series). The boiler was modified to carry a dome and normal type of superheater.
(Right) Following nationalisation the allegiance by railmen to the former 'Big Four' companies was well known, particularly on the Western Region!
(Below) The 2-6-0 mentioned above was essentially a tender engine version of the Swindon-built 2-6-2T 82000s, having identical driving wheels, cylinders, boiler pressure and tractive effort. The BR Standard Class 2-6-2T class offered an engine in power and axle-load midway between the Class 4MT tender engines in the 76000 series and the Class 2MT tank engines Nos 84000-29. The boiler is virtually a modified version of the Swindon 'No 2' boiler (with dome and normal type of superheater) otherwise this class was for the most part a new design. No 82043 awaits its next turn of duty at Cardiff (Cathays) 88A. Photo © J Payne proprietor of 'through their eyes.org.uk'
THANK GOODNESS FOR THE PRESERVATION MOVEMENT!
The following photos show the sterling work that goes into preserving our national heritage. The fact that almost 400 ex-BR steam locomotives have survived the 1968 holocaust is a remarkable achievement. Here is a selection of ex-GWR locos that have found a new lease of life. The photos are kindly provided by Ken Mumford, Editor of the Abergavenny and District Steam Society's 'The Coal Tank' magazine, and Terry McCarthy, who has been a member of the Great Western Society for over forty years - my thanks to both Ken and Terry for sharing their photos.
(Above-Below) 5521 departing from Lydney Junction on a train for Parkend on 3rd July 2010 in the course of the GWR 175 celebrations. 5322 in ROD livery on the 'main line' working a goods train at Didcot Railway Centre at the GWS GWR 175 celebrations 6th May 2010.
(Above-Below) Following a pathing stop at Swindon, 'King' Class No 6024 'King Edward I' accelerates past Cockleberry Sidings with London-bound 'Bristolian' on 28th August 2010. 'Castle' Class No 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe heads the non-stop 'Bristolian' near Stratton Park Halt on 17th April 2010.
(Above-Below) 'Hall' class No 4965 Rood Ashton Hall and 5029 Nunney Castle head through Compton Beauchamp about two miles east of Shrivenham station bound for the West Somerset Railway on 14th May 2010. (Below) Heading back to London with the 'Cornish Riviera Express' charter, 'Castle' class No 5029 Nunney Castle and 'King class No 6024 King Edward 1 pass the end of the loop at Greenbridge about a mile east of Swindon station.
(Above-Below) By way of a change we look at some pre-preservation shots on the Western Region taken by Rail Cameraman ER Morten. Llangollen railway station became a casualty of the Beeching axe on Monday 18th January 1965. Following closure to passengers traffic, the section of line between Ruabon and Llangollen goods yard remained open for freight traffic, but immediately upon withdrawal of goods services in April 1968, the wrecking crew began lifting the whole length track between Ruabon and Barmouth. Now it has to be said that Beeching's decision to obliterate a rail access to some of the most spectacular scenery in North Wales was just another classic example of his mindless excesses! Thank goodness for the Llangollen Railway! Formed by a group of enthusiasts in 1974, their efforts to restore part of the line is a magnificent achievement. Starting at Llangollen Station on the north bank of the River Dee, the 7½ mile scenic heritage line follows the Dee Valley up to the village of Carrog, with future plans to extend the line a further 2½ miles to Corwen Town. (Above) 7800 Torquay Manor was photographed by ER Morten at Llangollen Station on 4th April 1955. No 7800 was the first of the Manors, which entered traffic in January 1938 followed by a further nineteen up to February 1939. The outbreak of war halted construction but following nationalisation of the 'Big Four', the newly-created Western Region of British Railways was authorised to build ten more Nos 7820-29 which were outshopped from Swindon in November and December 1950. No 7800 was withdrawn from traffic in August 1964 and scrapped at Cashmore's, Great Bridge. (Below) Flood damage led to passenger services at Berwyn railway station being originally suspended on 14th December 1964 only a few weeks prior to Beeching's official closure taking effect on 18th January 1965. Here CB Collett's 0-6-0PT No 5409 restarts a local train on 4th April 1955. Reopened by the Llangollen Railway in 1986 Berwyn is the first intermediate station out of Llangollen. Deeside was reached in 1990, Glyndyfrdwy in 1993 and Carrog in 1996.
AROUND THE REGION 3
(Above-Inset-Below) The stunning images from the NMSI collection shows the superb quality of artwork commissioned by the 'Big Four' railway companies and later British Railways for posters across the country. The NMSI family is comprised of four award-winning museums, each with their own diverse identity: the Science Museum, the National Media Museum and, of course, the National Railway Museum (NRM) at York which houses the world's pre-eminent railway collection.
The NRM is spread across three halls: the Great Hall - formerly the steam engine shed (50A) - complete with a working turntable, while the Station Hall (previously York's central goods depot) is laid out like a 'period' railway station. The Science Museum at Swindon is a massive site housing collections ranging from the iconic Lockheed Constellation airliner to super computers, bicycles and the last Fleet Street printing press, however the NMSI's full collection is so big that only 8% of the artefacts are on public view. The rest are hidden-away at an ex-WW2 airfield just off the M4, but enthusiasts are amply compensated by the NMSI Collections Online - a superb website displaying thousands of objects, including a range of fabulous railway travel posters...a visit is highly recommended.
This link will take you to the posters featuring the railway paintings of Terence Cuneo whose career spanned more than half a century, by which time he had established himself among the highest echelons of twentieth century British art.
(Above) This superb British Railways (Western Region) poster - 'Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash' - was painted in 1959. The text reads - '1859, 1959 Centenary. Designed and Built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.'
The loco crossing the bridge is 'Castle' class No 5021 Whittingham Castle...Robert Green has written to say that he has one of the cabside numberplates which he purchased from Swindon in 1963 for the princely sum of £7 10s 0d (£7.50) to collect from Hockley Goods Depot in Birmingham. The reason for this choice was because No 5021 was the last Castle he copped as a spotter - happy days! Sadly, he couldn't afford to buy the nameplate - they wanted a mighty £15 which was too much for his budget. What a mistake that turned out to be! Click here to visit the exellent wikipedia free encyclopedia website on Cornish viaducts.
(Inset Left) This earlier British Railways poster - 'Forging Ahead. The First British Railways Standard Express Locomotive' - was painted by Terence Cuneo in 1951, and depicts BR Standard Class 7MT No 70000 'Britannia' leaving London Paddington station with an express train. In the background is a King Class locomotive in the early BR blue livery (as described at the top of the page).
(Below) This British Railways poster - 'Progress' - by Terence Cuneo was published in 1957 and depicts the interior of Swindon Works during the construction of the new 'Warship' class diesel hydraulic locomotives. The illustration depicts a power unit being lowered from an overhead gantry. In the background is the 1837 Great Western Railway 2-2-2 locomotive 'North Star' mounted on a raised platform. The main text reads - 'Every week British Railways Modernisation Plan goes further ahead' while the small text beneath the illustration reads - 'Painted by Terence Cuneo for the cover of the Unilever magazine 'Progress', Winter issue 1957-8.'
(Below-Inset left) An impressive titled train headboard - 'Cambrian Coast Express - as carried by the locomotives working the through service from Paddington to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli in North Wales. The titled train was introduced by the GWR in July 1927, but withdrawn in September 1939 at the outbreak of World War Two. The Western Region of British Railways reinstated the service in July 1951. This style of headboard, incorporating the Cambrian Railways coat-of-arms, was used from the start of the 1958 summer timetable until the last titled run on 4th March 1967. This headboard (illustrated) was sold at Great Central Auctions for £13,600 on 16th July 2011, and of particular interest is that it was the last headboard used in service. The Lot came complete with bracket and wing nut fixings, together with a purpose-made steel bracket which, when fixed to a wall, would support the overall 52½" span of the headboard for display...a fantastic piece of railway memorabilia courtesy Great Central Railwayana Auctions. Click here to visit the GCR website.
(Above-Below) Another flamboyant WR train headboard went under the hammer at a Great Western Railwayana Auction in May 2010. Click here. The board was carried by both Worcester and Old Oak 'Castles' on 'The Cathedrals Express' between Paddington and the cathedral cities of Oxford, Worcester and Hereford. The titled train first appeared in the Western Region timetable on 16th September 1957, departing Hereford at 06.43 and returning at 18.22 from Paddington. (Below) Here Castle class No 5001 Llandovery Castle arrives at Paddington with the morning train on 15th May 1962. Built in September 1926, No 5001 underwent performance tests during a brief spell in 1931 when the 'Castle's standard 6ft 8½ inch coupled wheels were substituted by smaller 6ft 6in driving wheels. A double chimney and 4 row superheater were fitted in June 1961, but with the introduction of Type 4 diesel-hydraulics gathering pace the loco was one of several ousted from traffic on the Western Region in 1963. No 5001 was withdrawn from Old Oak Common in February 1963 and scrapped at Cashmore's, Great Bridge.
(Below) I am constantly on the look out for good sites to link with and improve the contents of this site, so my thanks to John T of Taunton for recommending the excellent 'mikes. railhistory.railfan.net' website. The page on the 'Cornish Riviera' is a gem! Click on photo (below) to visit the page.
(Above-Below) The deplorable state of BR's locos in the final years of steam is illustrated in these shots...it was difficult to distinguish between those engines that were working and those that had been condemned! Surpus to requirements, this unidentified 'Castle' class awaits her fate at Woodham Brothers scrapyard on 13th August 1966. (Below) Not long to go, but a willing workhorse to the very end...Hall class (minus her 7925 smokebox numberplate and Westol Hall nameplates) was photographed at Oxford on 13th November 1965.
(Below) Sporting a Reading (81D) shedplate on the smokebox door, Collett's 0-6-0 Class 3MT No 2208 makes a spirited start with a heavy engineers train through the junction at Reading West Station on 2nd September 1951.
(Below) As for the changeover to WR dmu services? With the rank and file of steam classes in rapid decline, it became increasingly difficult for the operating department to find a suitable steam locomotive with a power classification relative to its train formation; either being too heavy or too light for the purpose. The diesel multiple units offered a practical solution to this problem as the engines of several railcars could be coupled together to meet varying traffic needs, therefore the power available became proportional to the length of the train. In the case of the Swindon-built Class 126s, however, pragmatism - rather than aesthetics - was the main item on the agenda, for the 70mph Inter-city units were not the best looking vehicles. Powered by two AEC 150hp engines, the 3-car sets had two front ends - a full-width cab and a half-cab incorporating a central gangway connection which allowed through access within a 6-car set. Prior to commencing service in Scotland, the first six 3-car sets were introduced on the WR's Birmingham-Cardiff-Swansea service in June 1957, the usual formation being comprised of six cars with the two gangwayed trailers coupled together in the centre of the train. Sporting a 'V' chevron on the front-end, a 3-car set arrives at Gloucester. Photo © EA Wood Collection.
(Above) Despite the economies the new dmus brought, many branch line closures could not be prevented. This included the former LSW's Sidmouth branch on the Devon coast which was dieselised in November 1963, but succumbed to the Beeching axe in March 1967. Here a pair of Derby Class 108 dmus occupy the single platform - the one on the left retains its 2-character train description panel beneath the driving cab windows and a small destination panel in the cab roof, whilst the newer vehicle from 1960 onwards (right) has been modified with a 4-panel route indicator box moulded as an integral part of the roof canopy and the destination panel relocated aboye the central cab window. Here the 4-character train description blind displays 2C55, as a 2-car unit - sporting a white cab roof - awaits departure in May 1964. Photo © EA Wood collection.
(Above-Below) Although committed to replacing steam with diesel and electric power, the British Transport Commission continued to show a keen interest in developing any type of new motive power which showed promise of economies in rail operation, including the conversion of a number of steam locomotives to oil firing. Meanwhile, the GWR had begun experiments in conjunction with the Swiss firm of Brown Boveri to build a gas-turbine electric locomotive capable of producing the equivalent power of a 'King' class locomotive. In fact, the GWR gas turbine did demonstrate its ability to produce a power well beyond any steam locomotive then operating on the Western Region, but the BTC took the decision to abandon all forms of main line traction other than steam and the interesting gas-turbine experiment came to an end. The Brown Boveri A1A-A1A gas-turbine No 18000 is seen at Swindon. (Below) North British Type 3 B-Bs Nos D6321-18 have just backed onto the 'Cornishman' coaching stock at Plymouth...please note, to maximise webspace the WR Hydraulic Class diesels have been moved to another page. Click on Colour Photo-link at the bottom of the page.
Some of the original steam loco photos featured on this page were provided by 'Through their eyes2.co.uk' and are available on a DVD containing 2,800 high resolution scans produced from original negatives, slides and photos. Click here for link to this interesting site. I am not affiliated in any way with the sale of DVD's.
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