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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Lapworth Station: gwrl2522

Ex-GWR 4-6-0 60xx class No 6001 King Edward VII approaches Lapworth with the 5:10 pm Paddington to Wolverhampton express

Ex-Great Western Railway 4-6-0 60xx (King) class No 6001 King Edward VII approaches Lapworth with the 5:10 pm Paddington to Wolverhampton express on Sunday 1st July 1962. The fourteen coaches would have represented a load of approximately 450 tons. To assist Signalmen in identifying individual trains, locomotives were provided with white lamps positioned to indicate the type of train. In this case, lamps at either end of the buffer beam indicated a class ‘A‘ headlamp code denoting an express train. In addition, on the smokebox is a train describer board, which has the number '5' displayed. This indicates the specific train.

No 6001 had been built in July 1927 at Swindon Works as part of lot 243. The result of progressive development and enlargement of the successful four cylinder 4-6-0 locomotive design lead from the Star class in 1906, to the Castle class in 1923 and eventually to the King class locomotives in 1927. The size and weight was limited by main line civil engineering restrictions (a maximum axle weight of 22.5 tons) and the design received a new boiler (Standard boiler No 12) operating at 250lbs/sq inch, which produced a tractive effort at 80% of 40,300lb. In 1927 the locomotive was initially allocated to Old Oak Common Shed (PDN) for express passenger duties on the Company's principle routes. The locomotive remained there until allocated to Stafford Road Shed (84A) near Wolverhampton in October 1954. In March 1933 No 6001 was the first of the class to be fitted with an experimental speedometer. In 1953, No 6001 was subjected to experimental re-draughting trials, which identified how the King class locomotive's performance could be significantly improved with a longer chimney liner and blastpipe modifications and these alterations were subsequently applied to the entire class. As part of the trial on 23rd July 1953, No 6001 hauled a test train of twenty five coaches (almost 800 tons) between Reading and Stoke Gifford, returning at an average speed of 60mph. Further experiments with other locomotives in 1955 showed that reducing the exhaust pressure would also improve performance. As a result double chimneys were fitted to all the class. with No 6001 receiving one in February 1956. No 6001 was withdrawn from Stafford Road Depot in September 1962 having run 1,941,044 miles and sold as scrap to Cox and Danks Ltd on 17th December 1962.

The Signal is Lapworth's Down Distant, located about 1000 yards before the facing switch for the Down goods loop. The higher semaphore signal on the dole directly above the main post was controlled by lever 78. The position of the semaphore arm indicates that the primary route, in this case the Down main line, has been selected and is clear. The lower secondary Distant semaphore signal on the bracket was controlled by lever 77 and would be operated to indicate that the Down relief line had been selected. The high speed junction for the Down relief line was located on the north side of the station and this Distant signal was provided to enabled trains to take this junction at the maximum permissible speed (40mph in this instance). Although the junction to the Down goods loop was closer, the speed from the Down main line to the Down goods loop was always limited to below 15 mph, so if this route was selected, both the Distant signals would be maintained at Caution and the relevant Home signal only cleared as the train approached it, thus ensuring that the train's speed had been reduced accordingly. This signal post was 1640 yards from the Signal Box and out of sight of the signalman, so electrical contacts were also fitted to allow the position of the semaphore signals to be indicated on an instrument called an electric signal repeater in the Signal Box. The circuitry for this was taken back via overhead wires, seen here crossing the lines from the top of the signal dole to the telegraph pole on the other side of the track.

The small wooden hut adjacent to the signal provided some protection for the Fogsignalman. A Fogsignalman was required at critical signals when fog or falling snow meant the semaphore signals may not be visible to a train's driver. They were provided with coloured lamps, red, green and yellow flags and at least 36 detonators. The Fogsignalman was required to place detonators on the track and replicate the position of the semaphore signals with their lamps and flags. At facing junctions, when a secondary route was selected (without prior notice being given to the train's driver), the Distant signal was required to be retained at Caution and the Fogsignalman would display a yellow light, exhibit a yellow flag and place a detonator on the track (where there was ATC, two detonators were placed 10 yards apart). This was to ensure that the train was sufficiently checked to enable it to run through the junction at the stipulated speed.

Robert Ferris