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GWR Route: Alcester to Hatton Junction

GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Bearley Junction: gwrbj446

An unidentified Great Western Railway 4-6-0 68xx (Grange) class locomotive at Bearley West junction

An unidentified Great Western Railway 4-6-0 68xx (Grange) class locomotive at Bearley West junction with a class A lampcode, denoting an express and a '480' train identification board number, indicating that the train originated in the West of England. For more explanation of these systems see our article on 'headcodes. In the late 1940s the '480' train identification referred to the Summer Saturday only 2:05 pm Weston-super-Mare to Birmingham up express, which according to the Service Time Tables would pass Bearley West junction at 4:43 pm, arriving in Birmingham Snow Hill at 5:15 pm (although advertised in the Passenger Time Table as 5:10 pm).

The 68xx (Grange) class were designed for mixed traffic duties with eighty in total being built at the Swindon works as lot 308 between 1936 and 1939. They were designed as a smaller-wheeled (five foot, eight inch diameter) version of the successful 49xx (Hall) Class 4-6-0 two cylinder locomotives. These 68xx class locomotives were classified by the Great Western Railway as ‘conversions’, but although an equal number of 43xx class 2-6-0 locomotives were withdrawn, this was an accountancy classification, because very few of the withdrawn 43xx parts were suitable for reuse. Fitted with a tapered standard No 1 boiler operating at a pressure of 225lbs, produced a tractive effort at 85% of 28,875lb (Power group - D) and their maximum axle weight of 18 tons, 8 cwt restricted them to main lines and a few branch lines (Route colour – Red). See 'misc_equip195' for more details of the Great Western Railway's Engine Map classification. They were reliable performers and their power and mixed traffic characteristics meant they could handle most duties on the GWR's network. The class were often used for the haulage of perishable goods, such as fruit and broccoli, and for excursion trains. Withdrawals started in 1960, but eighteen were still operating in 1965.

The first coach appears to be the corridor side of a ganged brake composite (most probably diagram E148). These were 57 foot long, steel bodied, flat ended general service stock with four third class and two first class compartments, one lavatory and a guard’s and luggage compartment. The diagram E146 and E148 coaches were virtually identical and can be recognised as they only had four doors on the corridor side. The only difference between the two diagrams was that E148 had a droplight window in one of the double doors to the guard’s compartment, while E146 had two windows (one in each door). These coaches were all built at Swindon Works as follows:

Lot No. Diagram Date Built Quantity Running Numbers
1491 E146 November 1933 10 6579 – 6588
1508 E148 July 1934 20 6909 – 6924, 6927, 6928, 6930, 6931
1526 E148 May 1935 20 6824 – 6826, 6828, 6832 – 6836, 6840, 6842 – 6849, 6851, 6852

All these coaches were condemned in 1963.

Robert Ferris