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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Knowle & Dorridge Station: gwrkd1533

View of the scene  following the fatal accident at Knowle and Dorridge on 15th August 1963

View of the scene following the fatal accident at Knowle and Dorridge on 15th August 1963. The accident occured at 1:12 pm on 15th August 1963, the main lines at Knowle and Dorridge were fouled until 2:35 am the following morning. As a result there were severe delays and several cancellations on this busy section. All the local traffic used the relief lines, with some long distance services diverted past the incident via the North Warwickshire line. Here British Railways 4-6-0 6959 (Modified Hall) class No 6987 ‘Shervington Hall’ with a Birmingham to Leamington local suburban train passes the scene of the accident on the up relief line. A crippled car transporter flat wagon still loaded with Land Rovers stands under the bridge on the main up line. Behind this is the Knowle and Dorridge Signal box from where the fatal ‘Line Clear’ message was sent.

Locomotive No 6987 was built in March 1948 at Swindon Works as part of lot 366. The Hall class had been introduced in 1924 and found to be excellent mixed traffic locomotives at home with both heavy goods and fast passenger duties. However, by the time Mr Hawksworth had succeeded Mr Collett as the Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway in July 1941, it was clear that locomotives would have to manage with inferior quality coal and this required a number of changes to be introduced, in particular the superheater arrangement was redesigned to increase the heating surface area. Other changes included main frame plates throughout (which simplified construction), new pattern cylinders with outside steam pipes, and a simple plate frame bogie. The tractive effort at 85%, remained the same at 27,275 lb classifying the locomotive in power group D, while the changes increased the weight slightly and with a maximum axle weight of 19tons, 3cwt the locomotive was restricted to main lines and a few branch lines. A total of 71 modified Hall class locomotives were built between March 1944 and November 1950, bringing the Hall class total to 330 locomotives.