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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Birmingham Snow Hill Station: gwrbsh1789

Great Western Railway 0-4-2T 517 class No 517 in bay platform No 4 with the Dudley Dodger circa 1926

Great Western Railway 0-4-2T 517 class No 517 in bay platform No 4 with the Dudley Dodger circa 1926. The unganged non-corridor Collett coach is painted in chocolate and cream with the moulded panel work picked out. This was a livery used between 1922 and 1927. The coaches are probably a non-auto, two coach, single class set made up of a diagram C43 (third) and a D85 (brake third) coach. These coaches were some of the first Collett Suburban coaches, being constructed in February 1924 and condemned in 1960.

This locomotive underwent considerable changes during its sixty-six year life. It was built as No 1040 in April 1868 at Great Western Railway's Wolverhampton Works as part of lot D. The locomotive was initially a 0-4-2 short wheelbase (7’4”+ 6’3”) saddle tank with two pairs of 5 foot coupled wheels, but in July 1870 it was renumbered to No 517. As built, the boiler pressure was 140 lb, which generated a tractive effort at 85% of 10,710 lb. In February 1880, the wheelbase of No 517 was extended backwards by welding on new trailing ends (7’4”+ 7’8”) and it was converted to a side tank locomotive and fitted with a cab at the Wolverhampton Works. In June 1887, a four foot long parallel boiler with a raised firebox and centrally placed dome (type R3r) was fitted. In July 1900, Wolverhampton Works carried out a further backwards extension to the wheelbase (7’4”+ 8’2”) and fitted a five foot long parallel boiler with a raised firebox and the dome was slightly further forward (type R2/3u). This had a large brass dome-cover. At the same time the side tanks were also extended to hold 900 gallons of water. In December 1910, a five foot long parallel boiler with a raised boiler and centrally placed dome (type R3u) was fitted. In November 1916, a five foot long parallel boiler with a belpaire firebox and slightly forward dome (type BR2/3u) was fitted and in May 1923, a five foot long parallel boiler with belpaire firebox and dome positioned further back (type BR4U class) was fitted. Many of the '517' class 0-4-2T locomotives were fitted with auto – apparatus following the conversion of many of the steam railcars to auto-trailers, which commenced in 1904 and Automatic Train Control (ATC) in the early 1930s, but there is no details available on when (or if) locomotive No 517 was fitted with either.

The '517' class locomotives were classified as ungrouped and uncoloured allowing them to operate anywhere, but with their loads fixed according to the gradient and local conditions (These details were published in the appendixes to the area Service Time Tables). After a long and useful life most were withdrawn and scrapped with the introduction of the Collett 0-4-2T 48xx class locomotives. No 517 appears to have been exclusively allocated to Northern Division sheds. In January 1921, No 517 was known to have been allocated at Wolverhampton shed (SRD) and in May 1922, known to have been allocated to Shrewsbury shed (SLP). No 517 was finally withdrawn from Much Wenlock sub-shed (WLN) in February 1934.

Robert Ferris


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