BR WESTERN REGION
Upon nationalisation in 1948, the newly-formed Western Region inherited a total of 3,857 steam locomotives from the GWR, though a small number of engines were taken into stock from absorbed lines, including several surviving pre-Grouping 0-4-0 saddle tanks belonging to the Swansea Harbour Trust (SHT). The SHT was responsible for operating the railway system at Swansea East Dock, its small fleet of locos being supplemented by a number of 0-4-0 saddle tanks provided by Powlesland and Mason (P&M) for duties within the docks. These P&M engines were built by five different firms: Peckett and Sons, Brush Electrical, Avonside, Andrew Barclay and Hawthorn Leslie and Company, and as a consequence the Western Region had a variety of elderly shunting locos on its books.
(Inset-Below) On 1st January 1924 the GWR acquired the docks including 23 locomotives from the SHT and 14 from P&M. The GWR rationalized the dock's shed facilities and concentrated the stabling of locos at East Dock shed or at Danygraig where the 1101 class provided motive power for the new Kings and Queens Docks. The GWR continued to use the ex-P&M steam locomotives for shunting and short-trip freight train workings. Some P&M locomotives were based at locomotive sheds away from the immediate vicinity of Swansea docks, including Danygraig shed, to the east of Swansea, which was located to the west of Jersey Marine railway station. A feature of the dock shunters operating out of 87C was the warning bell mounted in the front of the cab; this can be seen on the former P&M-owned Peckett 0-4-0ST (BR No 1153) at Gurnos, a sub-shed of Swansea Victoria (87K) and No 1143 at Danygraig (87C) below on 28 June 1959. The latter locomotive was acquired by the Great Western Railway from the Swansea Harbour Trust (SHT No 12) in 1924. A bell is also carried by Collett's 0-4-0T dock shunter no 1103 behind it; this was built by the Avonside Engine Co, Bristol, in 1926 and spent all its life in and around Swansea docks.
(Right) Danygraig shed performed most of the dock work, but Swansea East Dock shed had turns into the older docks and mainline shunting. The East Dock MPD was one of several in the Swansea area. Coded 87D under BR, it had an allocation of 35 tank locos made up of 2-8-2Ts and 2-8-0Ts which were employed on the heaviest coal trains originating from the South Wales coalfield, though they were often seen further afield in England. The rest were made up of 0-6-2Ts, 0-6-0Ts and 0-4-0Ts: the shed closed in June 1964.
(Left Top) 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 on 14th March 1957. Weighing just 38 tons 4 cwt, it had a tractive effort of 19,510lbs. (Bottom Left) Another Danygraig loco, 0-4-0ST No 1151 - one of 2 members in the class - was photographed on the same day 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 P&M. 1963 saw the last Peckett-built 0-4-0ST to be withdrawn from service - BR No 1152 (formerly P&M No 12, later GWR No 935).
(Right) A Cardiff East Dock (88B) shedplate (1949 to March 1958), then Radyr (October 1960-July 1965) went under the hammer at a Sheffield Railwayana Auction in December 2011. The former GWR depot at East Dock was once home to 60 locos during the 1950s before it was run down and lost its allocation in 1958, but in September 1962 - with the onset of WR's dieselisation gathering pace - a remarkable revival took place when the shed inherited all of Cardiff Canton's steam allocation including Castles, Halls, Granges and Manors.
(Above-Below) The exceptional overhang of Collett's '56XX' class 5MT 0-6-2T smokebox can be seen in this shot by Joseph S Waterfall of No 5616 at Danygraig MPD in June 1959. Note the difference in bunker size between 5616 and the Collett 72XX class 8F 2-8-2T behind it. Numbered 7200-7253 in the fleet these 2-8-2Ts were conversions of Churchward's earlier Class '42XX' 2-8-0Ts, being fitted with a radial trailing truck and larger bunker (coal capacity 6 tons) almost double that of No 5616. Introduced in 1924 the '56XX' class was designed for passenger services on the heavily-graded valley lines in South Wales.(Below). Opened by the Taff Valley Railway in 1884, Cardiff Cathays MPD together with its sub-shed Radyr became the principal Loco Depots of the Cardiff Valleys Division. Coded 88A (1949-57) by BR's Western Region) the combined depots of Cathays and Radyr had a compliment of 82 locomotives, the majority of which comprised of 62 '56XX' Class 0-6-2Ts. The remainder were made up of two 2-8-2Ts; fifteen 0-6-0PTs and three 0-4-2Ts. In 1959 part of the steam shed was converted to accommodate diesel multiple units and two years later Cathays closed to steam entirely, its allocation of steam locos being moved to Radyr. Following the opening of the new diesel depot at Cardiff Canton in November 1964, Cathays was shut down and the site demolished.
(Above) I have recently been contacted by Raymond Salmon who is seeking a photo of Jersey Marine South signal box. When Raymond was 15 years-old he started his working days at Swansea High St Station goods yard as a messenger boy, from there he went to Swansea High St Station Signal Box as booking boy; it had 120 levers which all booking boys unofficially got to learn. At 18 he applied for a Class 4 Signalman's job, and due to shortages was allowed to jump one class, starting as a Class 3 signalman at Jersey Marine Jnct South signal box. Having retired 5 years ago, Raymond is still interested in railways and occasionally photographs excursions. He has a black and white photo of Swansea High St box (above) but is seeking a photo of Jersey Marine South signal box. If anyone can help it will be much appreciated. Raymond can be contacted via email - email@example.com
(Below) Goodwick MPD (87J) can be seen in this general view of Fishguard and Goodwick station in June 1959. Opened on 1st August 1899, the station was originally called Goodwick until 1st May 1904 when the GWR opened their 5 mile extension to Fishguard Harbour and moved their Irish Ferry operation from Neyland. The station at Goodwick was closed to passenger traffic on 6th April 1964 though it continued to be used as the terminus for the seasonal Motorail service from June 1965. Motorail kept the station in use during the summer season until the regular service from London ended on 19th September 1980 and the occasional peak service in September 1982. Of interest is the freight traffic generated by the RNAD Trecwn, a Royal Navy Armaments Depot, built in 1938 to store and supply naval mines and munitions to the Royal Navy. At its height the depot employed 400 permanent workers who were housed within the Ministry of Defence's town infrastructure. The site also had its own 2 ft 6ins narrow gauge railway. The weapons were delivered and distributed by BR locos hauling Ministry of Defence-Royal Navy private owner wagons to Fishguard, Neyland for Milford Haven and latterly Pembroke Dock. Following closure of Goodwick station in August 1964, the site fell into a dilapidated state, however there is a happy ending - reopened on 14th May 2012 the station saw its first 'commuter' train service from Carmarthen for 48 years.
(Above-Below) A general view of three-road engine shed and coaling facilities at Llantrisant (then coded 86D) in June 1959. This shed fell within the Newport division at this time with the main MPD being Ebbw Junction (86A). For the record, when the GWR introduced depot codes in 1910 Llantrisant was coded LTS. Then in 1932 a separate code for accountancy purposes was introduced and under this new system Llantrisant became No 86, the last digit '6' indicating that it belonged to the Newport division. However, in February 1950, BR's Western Region adopted the LMS's method of depot coding and Llantrisant was allocated a new code 86D, the figures 86 now denoting the Newport division. But in October 1960 Llantrisant's shed code was altered yet again to 88G when it became part of the Cardiff division beneath Canton MPD (88A). The depot at Llantrisant remained 88G up to closure in October 1964, by which time its allocation of locos had dwindled to 14. (Below) Llantrisant was once a major junction on the ex-Great Western South Wales main line between Cardiff and Swansea. The station consisted of two central through platforms and bays for the Ely Valley line, the Llantrisant & Taff Vale Junction line and the branch to Cowbridge and Aberthaw, hence extensive sidings were built to handle the coal traffic generated in the area. Closed on 2nd November 1964, the station was rebuilt and reopened as Pontyclun on 28th September 1992. These shots by Joseph S Waterfall show the transition from steam at Llantrisant station with one of Hawksworth's 0-6-0 pannier tank No 9482 arriving on a local train from Tondu in June 1959 (inset) and an early liveried 4-car Craven unit arriving from Bridgend.
(Above-Below) This track plan of Llantrisant East is an excellent example of the SRS Drawing Office collection of signal box diagrams that has been built up over many years and constitutes hand-drawn sketches of the layout controlled by a signal box, with signals and connections numbered. The collection is being digitalised and published on CD-ROM. Information can be found here on this fascinating website. (Below) Newport MPD with 2-6-2T '81XX' class 8103 in June 1959; believed to be the last of its class.
(Above-Below) By the end of 1962, diesels were making major strides but steam was still very much in evidence in South Wales. On Sunday 18th November 1962 the Worcester Locomotive Society (WLS) organised a visit to the Western Region's MPDs in the South Wales area and an interesting record of this trip has been complied by Andrew Smith from personal recollections with additional notes and locomotive lists supplied by Gerald Wadley and Lyndon Knott. As mentioned earlier, during 1962 the two principal passenger engine sheds (Cardiff Canton and Landore) were closed for rebuilding as diesel depots and Canton's allocation had been sent to a re-opened Cardiff East Dock shed...alas permit difficulties prevented WLS visiting Cardiff East Dock, but the rest of the tour consisted of visits to: Pontypool Road (86G); Newport Pill (86B); Newport Ebbw Junction (86A); Caerphilly Works, Radyr - a sub shed of Cardiff Cathays (88A); Llantrisant (86D); Duffryn Yard (87B); Neath (87A; Danygraig (87C); Llanelly (87F); Llandovery - a sub shed of Swansea Victoria...these places were a spotters dream! Click here to visit this interesting webpage. (Below) An undated shot of the interior of Newport (Ebbw Junction) loco depot 86A (1949-1963). The shed code was changed to 86B for its final two years prior to closure in 1965. Ex-SR engineman David Salmon's colour photos (beneath it) show the abandoned roundhouse building in a dilapidated state on August 13th 1966.
(Above) Abadare MPD...these two photos of engines herded around the turtable give a good idea of the light and shade to be found inside the roundhouse at Abadare. This ex-GWR shed housed 50 locos during the time it used the BR shed code (86J) from 1949 to January 1961. From 1961 it became 88J and finally closed to steam in March 1965
It's always great to receive emails relating to train spotting days or perhaps a family railway history for inclusion on the website, no matter how big or small. Vyv Cox recently contacted the site and included a photo. He writes - 'I found your superb website yesterday and have spent several hours studying just two pages of it! My particular interest is the GWR in the Cardiff area, where I lived in the early 1950s. My grandfather was stationmaster at Marshfield, between Cardiff and Newport, where the attached photograph by my late uncle Ronald Cox was taken. I have no idea of the date but I suspect it was shortly after WW2. The house in the background is Station House, where my grandparents lived. Best regards Vyv Cox…'
Thanks Vyv, the photo you've sent is of No 2980, built in May 1905 as 4-4-2 number 180; its first shed allocation being Paddington. It was named 'Coeur de Lion' in March 1907 - 'Coeur de Lion' is the nickname of King Richard 1 of England who appears in Sir Walter Scott's novel 'The Talisman'. The loco was rebuilt by the Great Western Railway as a 2900 or Saint Class 4-6-0 in January 1913; its last shed being Newport in South Wales; withdrawal came in May 1948 just after nationalisation, so you're probably right about the date.
Vyv later added - 'My brother and I spent a great deal of time at Station House in Marshfield. The highlight of our day occurred at 10.10am every morning when the 'Red Dragon' to Paddington thundered through. The train was always pulled by a 'Britannia' class loco, of which I remember Morning Star, Polar Star and Shooting Star in particular. These locomotives, along with the Halls and Castles, were always kept in superb condition out of the Canton sheds. I have vivid memories of drivers descending from the footplate of stopping trains to do a little polishing or oiling around while passengers boarded...'
HELP! I have recently received an email from David Stapleton who is researching the history of Thornfalcon Station on the Taunton to Chard branch in Somerset. David is seeking photos showing the station buildings and goods yard areas. Can you help please?
David's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org Please note this is a not a-clickable address. You will have to email manually.
BR WESTERN REGION
A TRIBUTE TO CARDIFF CANTON CLEANERS
A webpage featuring MPDs in South Wales would not be complete without photos of Cardiff Canton. Opened as a six-road shed in June 1882, Canton was extended in 1897 when a 55 ft turntable was installed in a square building with 28 roads (stalls) radiating off the turntable. In 1925 the GWR added a locomotive repair and lifting shed along with a new coaling stage. In 1931 the original 55 ft turntable was removed and replaced by a larger 65 ft diameter table at the west end of the shed yard. At its peak the depot had an allocation of 40 heavy goods locomotives and 30 small locos for local passenger, goods and shunting operations, but perhaps the biggest attraction for spotters was its allocation of 50 main line passenger locomotives, which included Castles, Halls and a dozen BR Britannias. Cardiff Canton was designated the shed code 86C from 1950 to September 1960 followed a new code 88A until September 1963 then as a diesel depot it became 86A.
(Above) Mistakes on this website are easily remedied...it is important to get the facts right, and so I am grateful to Derek Dean for pointing out a glaring error to the caption for the above photo…quite simply I've got the wrong engine!
Derek writes - 'Hello David, just enjoying your vast site which seems to be getting larger each time. I would like to correct your caption of 70024 at Cardiff. It is in fact 70027 RISING STAR which was the only 'Britannia' to have the modification of the sand box fillers. This was carried out at Swindon and consisted of a metal surround to the normal capped pipe, which is just visible on the picture. Regards, Derek…'
Derek is absolutely right, of course, for having studied the photo again the size of the nameplate (compared to the shot of 70024 further down the page) provides another major clue.
Since Derek made contact he has compiled an interesting article - 'Changing Standards' - on the Railway Modelling page 48
(Below) This photo of 70016 Ariel at Canton in September 1960 has prompted Derek to write again - 'What a shocking state! Bent handrail, very thin tyres, a mix of coupling rods, EE valve still down, a short lube rod, 88A shedcode indicates the year is 1961. F55 was the code for a train from Carmarthen to Paddington. This is the first time I've seen Canton's coaling stage from this angle! The covered walkway is unique, there are three single tips - the third is on the other side of the walkway. The structure was built in 1935 when the original was abandoned, but the water tank (of the original) was still kept in use...'
(Below) Upon nationalisation of the 'Big Four' railway companies in 1948, the Railway Executive of the British Transport Commission (BTC) announced its preference for developing future steam motive power rather than dabbling with unproven diesel traction. This led to the Locomotive Interchange Trials of 1948, supervised by RA Riddles, then member of the BTC's Railway Executive, who, along with ES Cox was responsible for the design and construction of twelve new classes to be numbered in the 70-80,000s and 92,000s in the fleet. In 1951, the 'Britannia' Class 7MT Pacific became the first of twelve new British Railways Standard types to appear. Designed at Derby and built at Crewe, with sections designed at Brighton, Doncaster and Swindon, the basic ethos was simplicity in construction, lower coal consumption, and longer mileage between classified repairs. However, when production of the BR standard locomotives was launched in 1949, the decision caused some controversy amongst railmen, who argued that there was no need to develop a new standard class type, since there were plenty of locomotives of equal ability already available throughout the BR Regions. Of course, partisan feelings were only to be expected by railwaymen and the new BR Class 7MT received a mixed reaction. On the Eastern Region the 'Britannias' earned a well deserved 'pat on the back' from crews at Stratford depot operating on the GE section, as they previously had no larger engines than the Class 5MT 'Sandringhams' and Thompson Class B1s. However, negative feedback was received from crews on the Western Region, which had Class 8P 'Kings' and 7P 'Castles' available. This in-built loyalty by railmen towards former company's engines included downright complaint and criticism of the 'Britannias' 'left-hand drive' in contrast to the 'right-hand drive' locos that ex-GWR men were used to. It wasn't long before the WR's Old Oak Common and Plymouth Laira depots declared the class surplus to requirements, however Cardiff Canton depot continued to display a liking for the class on the Paddington-South Wales expresses.
(Above) Steam days at Newport Station on 10th October 1958. Newport was one of the busiest railway stations in Britain, with about 250 trains daily, two-thirds of which consisted of freight traffic originating from the South Wales coal mines located in the Eastern and Western Valleys. One of the station's most prestigious trains was the 07.30 Carmarthen-Paddington 'Red Dragon', seen here headed by BR Standard Class 7MT 'Britannia' 4-6-2 No 70029 'Shooting Star'. Built at Crewe to Order E483/228 under Swindon Lot 403, No 70029 entered service at Cardiff Canton in November 1952 and stayed there until September 1961. This was followed by a three-year spell based at Aston before the loco was transfered to Carlisle Kingmoor in October 1964, where it was withdrawn in October 1967 and finally broken up at J McWilliam, Shettleston in March 1968. This cast brass nameplate (inset) went under the hammer for £15,100 at a Sheffield Railwayana Auction in March 2009. Click here to visit the Wikipedia page on the 'Britannia' class locos.
(Above-Below) We take our leave of South Wales with these shots of 'Castle' class-hauled expressess. (Below) The Welsh Marches Line runs from Newport in south-east Wales to Shrewsbury in the West Midlands via Abergavenny, Hereford and Craven. This line was established by the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford Railway in 1854, later becoming part of the GWR and subsequently the Western Region of BR. In 1862, the Merthyr, Tredegar & Abergavenny Railway built a line from Abergavenny Junction to Merthyr Tydfil across the heads of the South Wales valleys to facilitate the transport of coal to the Midlands and north of England. This route became part of the LNWR and then the LMS. Closure of the line came in 1958 and this was marked by a special train organised by the Stephenson Locomotive Society on 5th January. The special was hauled by two ex-LNWR locos - Webb's last surviving 'Coal Tank' 0-6-2T No 58926 and Class 7F 0-8-0 49121. Here, 'Castle class No 7022 Hereford Castle heads through Abergavenny Junction with a train for the north on 2nd June 1952.
BR WESTERN REGION
EXETER ST DAVID'S
(Below) Every picture tells a story, they say, and this is definitely the case with this shot of Exeter St Davids station. In the original caption I wrote - A busy scene at Exeter St Davids in 1960 with 'West Country' class No 34017 Ilfracombe, 'Castle' class 5069 Isambard Kingdom Brunel (what a nameplate!) at the head of the 'down' 'Cornishman' and the now-preserved 7029 Clun Castle, which is also carrying the 'Cornishman' headboard. Perhaps a WR enthusiast can throw some light on this anomaly? See below...
(Above) Regular contributor, Robert Green, writes - 'The caption to Jim Payne's picture of 'The Cornishman' at Exeter St David's is inaccurate. The train is not a 'down' Cornishman. It is an 'up' train - though more correctly the 'northbound' Cornishman as it is not heading for London.
At Exeter, things work differently these days though the platform numbers are the same. In the 1960 picture, 5069 is at platform 5, the main up, or northbound platform for WR trains, though platform 6 on the opposite side of the island would also be used. The Bulleid Pacific is in platform 4 the main down, or westbound, platform for SR trains, and judging by the headcode is bound for Padstow (the WR and SR ran in opposite directions to the same destinations of London and Plymouth out of Exeter).
In the opposite side (left) of that island is platform 3, the main up platform for SR trains which climbed the 1 in 37 bank sharp left up to Exeter Central immediately south of the station. To complete the platforms not shewn (sic - the GWR always used this archaic form of the word) in the photo, platform 1 was the main down or westbound one for WR trains and 2 was a bay at the north end of 1 used by the Exe Valley branch trains. Platforms 1-3 are, of course, off to the left. The building in the background is the old goods shed and the MPD was behind that. Thus 'The Cornishman is going north...
It is difficult to say why 7029 also has a headboard (not evident in the picture). It may have suffered a failure, though the fact that both have headboards suggests not. More likely, but just a guess, is that one loco is taking over from the other (which way round is dependent on when the photo was taken, since both were shedded in the West Country at the time) and the one coming off may well turn and take over the down train to Penzance later...'
Well, Robert's email got me thinking...I was certain that I had a photo of both Castles (with headboards) in one shot, but seemingly this is not the case. However I did find these two (above right and below) and posted them to Robert, who replied - 'Now that I see the additional photos I lean more towards my theory that 'changing engines' is correct as we see 5069 drawing forward and 7029 apparently ready to take its place with what appear to be two more coaches to strengthen the train...'
(Left-Below) Robert continues - 'However, there is a further alternative that, in 1960, the train was run in two portions due to high demand and the two trains have arrived at Exeter one after the other and 5069 is to be replaced by another (unknown) engine whilst 7029 may have already done the same at Newton Abbot - its home shed. In any event, you will need to amend your caption to correct the number and name of the Bulleid to 34057 Biggin Hill from 34017; this is immediately apparent in the enlargements you sent me. The additional photos also confirm the platform numbers and that the SR train is bound for Padstow. I'll leave those thoughts with you for the caption...'
'Well, rather than alter the original caption I have included Robert's comments with my thanks - and on a final note...I eventually found the missing photo of all three locos in one shot below...
Continuing the general discussion regarding the two Castles at Exeter (above) I include this interesting email sent by Dave Spencer for two reasons: (a) Dave has taken the trouble to research his findings for the page and (b) it gives me a good excuse to add a few more 1960's shots of Exeter during the transition from steam.
Dave writes - 'I have just been looking at your site and think I can provide a solution to your query. It looks very much like 'Clun Castle' is going to take over the service and strengthen the train. You can check this by looking at the lamps on the loco. It would appear that 5069's fireman has been idle and left one on the left hand side of the buffer beam instead of putting it into the middle, whilst 7029 displays the standard express headcode, though the right hand one appears a little dirty.
This is an undated photograph therefore I can't say for certain if it is a summer working or not. In the 1959-60 winter timetable valid up to June 12th 1960 the service had a 10 minute stop at Plymouth North Road and no indication of any loco change. The only notation related in the timetable is the provision of a pilot to Newton Abbot when required. I have checked the Southern Region timetable for 1963 and found a Mon-Fri service to Ifracombe at St Davids around 14:10…not much changed on the Withered Arm! However, I have no experience of GW steam during this period (being only 4 years-old at the time) but the loco change at Exeter appears logical in that it is approximately 130 miles from Penzance to Exeter and 160 miles to Wolverhampton. I don't have the times for Exeter as the Western Region timetable runs out at Totnes, but I would guess the time as being 2.10pm. 5069 would not be doing the Wolverhampton-Penzance as it would have left Exeter at 12:55 pm. This gives rise to the question; did 7029 work the service from Wolverhampton-Bristol? After all, 85 minutes to turn, clean the fire and coal is not impossible.
However on closer inspection the photo has opened up a further query. This relates to the headcode carried by the 'Spam Can'. From my readings on the 'Withered Arm' and recalling illustrations (particularly at Halwil Jn) I did not think that the service was an Ilfracombe one, as the 'two eyes' (discs) carried by 34057 relate to a Padstow service. Ilfracombe was a 'one eye' to the right. A search of the Internet 'Stonybridge Library' has confirmed this. From the lack of people on the platform I believe the shot was possibly a Friday, with the stock being strengthened for the Saturday return; in this way the WR got its coaches back! It could also be a train earlier in the week, returning a set of Wolverhampton-based coaching stock. However, where the confusion arises is that in 1963 there was a 11:00 ex-Waterloo to Ilfracombe dep Exeter Central 14:04 and Exeter St Davids 14:11, Fridays excepted a portion off this service departed Exeter Central 14:15 and Exeter St Davids 14:21 for Padstow. On a Friday this was a through service 11:05 Waterloo-Padstow and ran on the same timings…these are, of course, 1963 timings. Going back to 1960, I have reviewed the WR timetable again and noted that the 'Cornishman' was booked to pass Newton Abbot at 13:50 so it would be at Exeter around 14:10 to 14:15. Whilst standing at Exeter St Davids, both services could theoretically have left. In effect I do believe we are looking at either a portion off the 11:00 Waterloo-Ilfracombe working to Padstow, or the 11:05 Waterloo-Padstow...'
My thanks to both Robert Green and Dave Spencer.
(Left) Swindon-built D806 Cumbrian, introduced to traffic on 3rd June 1959, was photographed at Exeter in 1960. I am aware that modellers use this site as a source of reference, and so there is a blown-up shot of D810 Cockade at Plymouth (inset) which shows the clumsy arrangement of the original headcode discs (a legacy of steam days) which didn't sit at all well on the bulbous nose of the D800 class. A new four digit route indicator panel replaced the original discs and number board frames form D813 onwards and these were retro-fitted to D800-D812 at a later date - click here to see D806 Cumbrian at Paddington with the revised headcode panel displaying an incomprehensible configuration of digits; this was one of the reasons headcode display boxes were disbanded some years later. Although Nos D803-D812 could only work in multiple unit with each other, Nos D803-D870 were eventually fitted with the 'White Diamond' multiple unit coding which enabled them to work in common with the North British D6306-D6357 series B-B Type 2s. The initial specification of Spanner train heating boilers was also changed to Stone-Vapor.
(Above) The D800 'Warship' class was also to be seen with three varieties of wheel design - plain (solid), two-holed and four-holed - the latter seen in this shot of NBL-built D835 Pegasus awaiting departure from Exeter St David's with a westbound train.
The administrators the Western Region management team of British Railways wasted no time in railing against the rules and regulations imposed by the higher echelons of BR's overall management. The WR retained its old GWR locomotive numbers whereas the other Regions pre-fixed theirs. Then there was the WR's choice of chocolate and cream livery for its coaching stock, its dalliance with gas turbine locomotives and the decision to operate diesel-hydraulic traction instead of diesel-electric, and even the house colours for its mainline diesel fleet was different…it's almost as if the WR was doggedly determined to do things differently from everyone else!
In January 1955, the British Transport Commission (BTC) announced its Modernisation Plan for Britain's railways, the basis of which was to get rid of its indigenous collection of former 'Big Four' steam locos (absorbed into British Railways stock in 1948) and replace them with a fleet of brand-new diesel and electric locomotives. In January 1956 the BTC accepted the Western Region's proposal to build three pilot-scheme Type 4 diesel-hydraulic B-B 'Warship' class locomotives Nos D800-2. The Western Region had negotiated a licence with German manufacturers to scale down the German Federal Railway's 'V200' design in order to suit the smaller loading gauge of the British network. In February 1957, even before the first of the trio was built, Swindon received a further order for thirty 'Warships' Nos D803-D832, equipped with the Maybach engines uprated to 1,135bhp, all except for D830 which was fitted with Paxman 12YJX engines rated at 1,135bhp.
However, such was the BTC's haste to eliminate steam, that even before the doyen of the class No D800 had entered revenue-earning traffic, a further order for 33 'Warships' was awarded to the North British Locomotive company (NBL) in Glasgow in July 1958. These were numbered D833-65 in the fleet and equipped with the same MAN L12V18/21B engines of 1,100bhp and Voith transmissions as fitted in the earlier D6300 class.
The 'Warship' class locomotives were named in alphabetical order from the first of the production batch No D803 Albion to the final member of the class D865 Zenith, but in April 1959 Swindon received a final order for an additional five locomotives Nos D866-70, hence it was necessary to search for an additional five warship names beginning with the letter 'Z'. To solve the problem Nos D864/5 had their names changed to maintain the alphabetical order.
All members of the class were delivered new sporting BR's obligatory standard green locomotive livery, with red buffer beams, grey roofs and black bogies and an additional white stripe at waist height along the body sides. By the mid-1960s, however, despite BR's strict policy on a livery scheme, the Western Region decided upon maroon as its new house colour for mainline diesel locomotives.
The nameplates originally had red backgrounds but these were changed to black with the introduction of BR's overall blue livery. However, the lettering was still the same traditional Swindon 'Egyptian slab-serif' lettering as requested by WR management …pushy lot, weren't they! Good for them I say! The quirky individualism that existed before to BR's dull Corporate Identity Scheme was is what makes this hobby so interesting...
(Above Right-Below) NBL-built D836 Powerful arrives at Exeter with the 1E70 (not sure of the working) and finally (below) D847 Strongbow gets the right away with a mixed freight.
(Above-Below) Interesting comparison can be made between these before-after photos taken some twenty years apart showing the changes at Exeter Loco Depot from 1960 to the 1980s. Established in 1844 by the Bristol and Exeter Railway the engine shed at Exeter was extended a few years later by the South Devon ailway and the two were combined under the Great Western Railway in 1876 and given the shed code 'EXE'. Following nationalisation of the 'Big Four' railway companies in 1948, the newly-formed British Railways introduced a series shed codes and Exeter became '83C' from 1950-1963. The shed had an allocation of some 35 locos during the 1950s, but during the final 18 months of its life, this was reduced to single figures. Following closure to steam on 14th October 1963, the code was transferred to Westbury 1963-1967. Meanwhile the shed area at Exeter continued to be used as a fueling and stabling point for diesel locos and DMUs working in the area. In December 1976 Exeter was reinstated as a depot and given a new code 'EX' and in 1980 a new covered maintenance area was built. Today Exeter Traction Maintenance Depot is operated by First Great Western. (Inset) A similar example of this ex-loco condition 83C shed plate went under the hammer for £440 at a Great Central Auction in July 2010.
BR WESTERN REGION - A SNAPSHOT IN TIME
Pages From Jim Oakley's Spotting Notebook
Harking back to the 1950s and early 1960s, the term 'train spotter' never carried the same savage insult that it does today. Okay, there might have been the odd jokey putdown aimed at teenagers who were still caught up in the hobby, but this didn't burden us with the stigma that today's hoi-polloi dish out; it's almost as if they are determined to cause the maximum ridicule and hurt.
However, back in the Fifties collecting engine numbers was the national pastime for small boys. Before Beeching got his grubby hands on the rail network there were trains to the left and trains to the right - it's hardly surprising that boys got hooked. Even less surprising is their infatuation with trains continued into adulthood, but then there are some things in life that are just too good to give up, including train spotting, no matter what the age.
The fact is, the hobby wasn't just for kids; delve a little deeper and it gave youngsters a sense of belonging and, more importantly, a sense of purpose; by the start of the Sixties the new diesels were making major inroads and with steam was in rapid decline, this brought about a sense of 'unfinished business', which is why so many youngsters were determined to finish what they had started out in childhood before it was too late and there were no steam locos left.
Getting to the point...one of the best ways of understanding the psyche of the spotting fraternity is by leafing through the pages of an old railway magazines or Ian Allan abc Locospotters book, but here we take a look at Jim Oakley's spotting notebook, which, on the face of it, contains nothing more than a list of loco numbers, but on closer examination it reveals a slice of our railway history.
For instance, on 30th June 1961, whilst Del Shannon was belting out his UK No 1 smash hit 'Runaway', 16 year-old Jim Oakley and his spotting pal, Peter Jacques, were catching an overnight train from Manchester Piccadilly to Exeter St David's, arriving at Exeter early on Saturday morning. This was the start of a week-long stay at Exmouth, combining a few days of sun, sea and sightseeing - plus the chance to catch up on some train spotting on the Western Region.
In September 1960, Manchester London Road station was renamed Piccadilly at the start of the new electric service to Crewe. The additional Crewe-Liverpool electrification scheme was completed on 1st January 1962, but it wasn't until 12th November 1965 that the first electric trains arrived at London Euston; the full London to Manchester and Liverpool service started on 18th April 1966 and the first Anglo-Scottish electric trains began operations between Euston and Glasgow in 1974.
(Top Right) This British Railways London Midland Region poster is from the fabulous NMSI Collection and features an impression of the new Piccadilly Station and office block in Manchester by artist Claude Buckle in 1960. The second poster (above) was painted by John Greene in 1961, and depicts a permanent way gang watching an express passenger train hauled by AL1 class (later Class 81) No E3005 speeding past an electric multiple unit beneath the recently-erected overhead catenary. The accompanying text reads - An artist's impression of an electrically-hauled express passing a local electric train between Liverpool and Crewe' and 'Forging ahead, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, London. Electric trains are now running between Liverpool and Crewe, completing the second stage of this vast scheme. The first stage, between Manchester and Crewe, was completed in 1960...'
Having been dropped off at Manchester's Piccadilly by Peter's brother-in-law, Jim noted Nos E3020, E3033 and E3049 (later Class 81s), along with a Class EMI Bo-Bo No 26044 on the service to Sheffield over the electrified Woodhead route. On the first page of Jim's notebook pages (above) it seems appropriate to mention of the elegant 3,200bhp blue electric locomotives built for the LMR's new service on the 25kV electrified line between Crewe and Manchester line. Five types of 'A' Class express locos were introduced (AL1-AL5 in the fleet) built by Beyer Peacock, North British, Birmingham Carriage and Wagon Works, English Electric and BR's workshops at Doncaster and Crewe.
The first signs of entering Western Region territory came with the sighting of 'King' class No 6023 King Edward II, 'Grange' class No 6847 Tidmarsh Grange, 'County class' No 1017 County of Hereford at Shrewsbury - plus several first-generation diesel multiple units (later Class 119) built by Derby for the WR, a vast improvement on Derby's earlier WR suburban sets comprised of Motor Composites and Motor Brake Seconds each vehicle being non-gangwayed with side doors to each compartment.
The Western Region's engines were certainly different in the 'good looks' department, though it could be argued that it didn't necessarily make them steam any better, but the polished brass number plates did add a certain panache.
Whilst all other Regions adopted BR's numbering system in 1948 the Western Region retained their attractive GWR brass and cast iron cabside number plates, so little had changed on the Western Region since GWR days.
Continuing their journey south from Shrewsbury, the train then went on to Hereford, Pontypool Road and Bristol Temple Meads where Jim noted a smattering of Bristol's BR Standard Class 3MT 2-6-2Ts numbered in the 82000s range, a solitary Type 4 'Peak' D19 (later Class 45 No 45025) and somewhere between Bristol and Taunton they spotted the doyen of the GWR 1000 'County' class No 1000, County of Middlesex. Built at Swindon in August 1945, the loco spent its days at Old Oak Common, Laira, Chester, Swindon, Bristol Bath Road, St Philips Marsh and Swindon where it was withdrawn by 4th July 1964, and sold for scrap to Cashmores at Newport in September 1964.
On the final leg to Exeter, they were 20 minutes from arriving at St David's when Peter discovered he had lost his ticket; it had probably fallen out of his pocket when he was getting in and out at each engine change. The upshot is he had to pay again, which needless to say, made a huge hole in his funds. As it turned out all was not lost. After returning home, Jim's mum organised a raffle at the place she worked (Ferranti at Hollinwood near Oldham) and raised enough to cover his losses.
Following their arrival at Exeter they caught a local train to Exmouth, booked into their 'digs' - and after a bite to eat, caught a train back to St David's where they spent what Jim describes as - 'One of the best afternoon's spotting I've ever had...before or since!'
Indeed during the summer of 1961 the Western Region trains were great mix of both steam and diesels and he noted no fewer than eighteen D800 class 'Warships' B-Bs including D823 Hermes (above) along with a wide range of Western Region steam classes, including 'King' class No 6002 King William 1V and 'Castle' class No 4087 Cardigan Castle (both featured below) plus a few 'West Country' and 'Battle of Britain' classes thrown in for good measure. The Southern Region locos passed straight through to and from Exeter Central. The big surprise of the day was copping 'Britannia' class No 70024 Vulcan...not a regular visitor.
When Jim and Peter weren't spotting (Peter didn't want to spend every day looking at trains) they spent their days playing pitch and putt in Phear Park, Withycombe near to Jim's aunts, and generally taking in the sea air and catching some sun. However, they were back on track on Tuesday 4th July.
Having obtained two permits, one for a visit to Plymouth Laira (83D) on Tuesday and one for Exeter (83C) on Thursday, they set off in the Tuesday morning and caught the local ferry from Exmouth across the Exe estuary to Starcross Pier, adjacent to the railway station, where they took a train down Plymouth. It wasn't until they were passing Totnes that Jim noticed he'd mixed up the dates - the permit for Plymouth was for the Thursday (not Tuesday) and the Exeter permit was for the Tuesday (not Thursday). They were heading to Plymouth on the wrong day!
Needless to say there was a good deal of apprehension for the rest of the journey, but that didn't stop Jim noting D600 Active, the first of five 2,000hp A1A-A1A diesel-hydraulic 'Warship' class locomotives Nos D600-D604 constructed by the North British Locomotive (NBL) works at Glasgow.
The first three, Nos D600-D602, were a belated addition to the original pilot scheme orders, and all five were named in alphabetical order: Active, Ark Royal, Bulldog, Conquest and Cossack. No D600 commenced revenue-earning service on 21st April 1958 working two return trips daily between Plymouth and Penzance. By 1961, however, the first-generation D800-series 'Warship' B-B class became available; the first, No D800, being named Sir Brian Robertson, then Chairman of British Railways. D800 was delivered to the Western Region in July 1958 and with others following in quick succession, the A1A-A1A D600s were soon displaced from principal duties on the West of England main line and assigned to less demanding duties working Cornish china clay traffic. Jim noted D800 on his first day at Exeter St David's on 1st July.
After arriving at Plymouth they made their way to Laira shed, but despite their earlier fears once Jim had explained the mix up in dates the amiable shed staff were okay with it. As can be seen from his notes, there was a great mix of both diesel and steam, including 'Castle' class No 4095 Harlech Castle (above) and a solitary 'West Country' class No 34005 Barnstaple.
The diesels in residence included the NBL Co Type 2 B-B diesel-hydraulic locos (later Class 22) of which D6300-5 were ordered as part of the BTC's pilot-scheme. Introduced to traffic in 1958, the Type 2 was designed for secondary work or coupled together in multiple for heavier duties, and this entailed the fitting of gangway doors in the nose ends. The NBL/MAN engines of later locos were uprated to 1,100hp which corresponded with the NBL-built D800 'Warship' class then rolling off the production line, and this enabled multiple working between both classes.
Also on shed that day was the North British-built Type 4 A1A-A1A 'Warship' class (later TOPS Class 41) D603 Conquest, the second time Jim had seen it in the week; the first at Exeter on July 1st. Delivered new to Plymouth Laira in November 1958, the loco was withdrawn from Laira in December 1967 and together with sister members D602 and D604, was sold to J Cashmore's of Newport where it was cut up in November 1968.
After doing the rounds at 83D they made an unplanned visit to Plymouth Friary (83H); a small shed used by a few Southern Region classes. Returning to Plymouth station, they made their way back to Exmouth, bagging a few more 'cops' on the way, making a total of 62 in the one day.
Jim and Peter decided to take the Wednesday off from spotting, which gave them a chance to catch up on some sightseeing and perhaps brush up their handicap on the pitch & putt course in Phear Park, Withycombe. However, on Thursday they were back at Exeter St David's again, this time armed with a permit for the shed at Exeter (83C). Needless to say an apology was called for to account for them arriving on the wrong date, but the shed staff gave them the go-ahead. Among the locos in residence were the quaint-looking '1400' Class 0-4-2Ts, a 'Castle' class 5075 Wellington and four 'Halls' 4970 Sketty Hall, 5913 Rushton Hall, 5976 Ashwicke Hall and 4955 Plaspower Hall (right). As the photo reveals the number of locos on shed was disappointing.
So the following morning they caught a bus to Exmouth Junction shed (72A), albeit the visit was done without permit, but nobody seemed to bother.
Amongst the locos in residence were five 'Light Pacifics' and two 'Merchant Navy' class loco Nos 35010 Blue Star and 35020 Bibby Line (below). Built at Eastleigh in June 1945 as No 21C20, it was the last of the class built by the Southern Railway, the remaining ten being built by BR in 1948-49. It became BR 35020 in May 1948 and was rebuilt in April 1956. It spent most of its working life at Nine Elms before moving in 1964 to Weymouth from where it was withdrawn on 14 February 1965 and cut up at Eastleigh Works two weeks later. Bibby Line achieved notoriety when, on 24 April 1953, it came close to disaster heading an Exeter to Waterloo express at Crewkerne when the driving axle fractured at speed; a serious accident was narrowly avoided thanks to the prompt actions of the crew. The outcome was that all the Merchant Navy locos were temporarily withdrawn pending inspection of all coupled axles and a number of locos including Britannias, V2s, Class 5s and B1s were drafted in from other Regions to carry out their duties. A nameplate from Bibby Line went under the hammer for £24,500 at a Great Central Railwyana Auction in October 2012...click here to visit the fascinating GCRA website.
By Saturday morning it was time for their journey home. They caught a train direct to Manchester Piccadilly from Exmouth, with portions from North Devon and South Devon attached at Exeter St David's. During the journey, Jim jotted down 144 numbers in total, from shunters to Pacifics and anything else in between, including BR Class 9F No 92203 which was withdrawn from traffic and subsequently rescued for preservation by wildlife artist, David Shepherd.
Closer to home and they were back on London Midland Region territory, once again collecting familiar engine numbers pre-fixed with a '4', including 'Princess Royal' class No 46209 Princess Beatrice and the now-preserved Stanier Pacific class No 46235 City of Birmingham - and, of course, modern traction was well to the fore with the English Electric Type 4s (TOPS Class 40), a pilot scheme 'Peak class D5 (later TOPS Class 44005) along with the fleet of 'A' Class blue electrics...back to where they started!
However, not content with spending a week on the Western Region, no sooner had Jim arrived back home on July 8th and the following day he was back on the road again, this time joining a Northern Railfans Club (NRC) visit by overnight coach to sheds in Westmorland and Cumberland...the Cumbria we know today wasn't established until 1974. The first shed on the agenda was Workington (12F) where he noted several 'Black 5s, 'Jinties' Class 4Fs and Ivatt 2-6-0s etc - ending up 'copping' a total of 47 out of 48 in residence there. This included several Derby Lightweight twin units made up of Driving Trailers numbered M9600-E79625 in the fleet along with the Motor Brake Seconds fitted with two BUT (AEC) 6-cylinder 150bhp engines and numbered M79008-E79046. The units (pre-fixed 'M') began operations on the Workington-Keswick-Penrith line, ousting in the process all of west Cumberland's steam-hauled local services. The fleet was maintained at Carlisle Upperby carriage sheds and at Workington's steam shed, where five tracks were partitioned off specifically for the purpose. The other units in the fleet (pre-fixed with an 'E') belonged to the West Riding pool based at Hammerton Street in Bradford...but as the saying goes, that is another story entirely...
THE NRM's RJ SELLICK COLLECTION.
Above-Below) This evocative image of an unidentified 'Castle' class heading an up express across Largin Viaduct between Liskeard and Bodmin Road stations in Cornwall on 7th September 1959 (above) and (below) a goods train crossing St Germans Viaduct over the River Teddy on 22nd July 1957, can be found in a collection of railway photos taken by R J Sellick, now safely in the hands of the National Railway Museum at York. The NRM's collection of 1¾ million photos covers the history of Britain's railways from 1850 to the present day; the archive is currently being digitalised to make them available to a wider audience and preserve them for the future - more West of England images like these can be found on the 'Sellick Collection' page here - a visit is highly recommended…
(Above-Below) RJ Sellick captures a splendid view from the carriage window of a train crossing the Royal Albert Bridge between Plymouth and Cornwall on 22nd August 1956, and (below) a general view from the station of a local train departing for Plymouth on 25th October 1956. Other links available on the NRM's website will take you to a large collection of railway travel posters and images from the Science Museum Group collections here. All sales of images such as postcards, notecards and framed or unframed decorative prints help towards funding the work of the National Railway Museum...
AROUND THE REGION
by Derek Dean
(Above) A locomotive nameplate and cabside numberplate from the GWR 'King' Class 4-6-0 No 6028 King George VI went under the hammer for £35,000 and £1,000 respectively at a Great Central Railwayana Auction (GCRA) on 13th October 2012. Constructed at Swindon in July 1930, the loco was originally named King Henry II, but was renamed in January 1937 after the then reigning monarch. The loco had spells at Newton Abbot, Old Oak Common, Cardiff Canton and back to Old Oak Common from where it was withdrawn by 17th November 1962 and sold for scrap to Birds Commercial Motors on 3rd June 1964. Click here to visit the fascinating GCRA website.
(Above) This image of 'King' Class No 6000 at ........... dates from June 1949, because the Locomotive livery is 'Caledonian Blue' and this was the second choice after 'Ultramarine' which was applied to only 4 'Kings' and was said to weather very poorly, lasting only 17 months on 6026 'King John', before the second blue livery was used. The blue livery was finished off with white lining and can be seen today as applied to 6023 'King Edward ll' in preservation.
Completed at the end of June, 1927, 6000 was soon shipped to the USA to feature in the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's centenary celebrations event, an agreement being made by Sir Felix Pole (GWR General Manager) as early as 1925. The brass bell was thus presented to the GWR to mark the occasion, and was affixed on the frontplate over in America on the first run in Halethorpe, Maryland.
Shed allocations began at Old Oak, as many 'Kings' did, followed by spells at Exeter (3 times), Plymouth Laira (twice), then Bristol Bath Road (82A) and, in October of 1952, a return to Old Oak, to complete 'her' days in service, before withdrawal in December, 1962, and then was selected for the National Railway Collection, but was bought by Bulmer's instead.
The locomotive had completed 1 million miles in service by August, 1944, and was recorded as having a final mileage of 1,910,424. Little had changed mechanically for any of the 'Kings' by this date, but it was found that poorer quality coal was prevalent in the post-war years, resulting in poorer steaming capabilities, and from 1948 WB Boilers were being developed, which gave 4-row superheating and an ability to steam well with inferior quality coal. 6000 received a new WB Boiler in April of 1952, along with a return to a Brunswick Green livery, as did the whole of the class in and around this time. The front middle lamp iron sited in front of the bell was angled forwards to give clearance so that the bell was not being constantly rubbed in daily usage.
On the cab above the number plate can be seen 2 round 'discs' these being replicas of the original medallions as presented to Sir William Stanier, who was Assistant to Charles Collett and who represented the GWR, whilst the engine was over in America. The original medallions were said to be sited in the cab, to avoid risk of being stolen.
The coal stage shelters can be seen to be in good order, because they had been renewed and enlarged in the early 1940's (originally built in 1906) to give better protection to those tipping the coal. The shed buildings are behind the photographer, and the locomotive is stationed at the southwest corner of the coaling stage in position to reverse down to Paddington for 'her' next duty, being allocated to Bristol Bath Road shed at this time. The coaling stage was much the same on the north side, but those tips were discharging lesser quality coal for use on freight turns and shunting locomotives, of which there were many in use for Paddington trains.
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