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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Leamington Shed: gwrls3015

Ex-Great Western Railway motive power seen inside Leamington Spa Shed on Sunday 17th June 1951

Ex-Great Western Railway motive power seen inside Leamington Spa Shed on Sunday 17th June 1951. On the left is 2-6-2T 81xx class prairie No 8100 and on the right Diesel Railcar No W22.

No 8100 was one of ten locomotives rebuilt at Swindon Works from withdrawn 51xx locomotives, as part of lot 320. No 8100 was the first of these rebuilds, being constructed in May 1938, using the frames from No 5100. This locomotive had been built at Swindon Works as a prototype 2-6-2T in September 1903 (No 99) and then rebuilt in April 1929. Fifty rebuilt 81xx class locomotives had been ordered in lot 320, but the Second World War intervened and the programme was suspended after the first ten were completed and not resumed. The 81xx class had a new standard boiler No 2 capable of higher pressure (225 lb) and two inch smaller diameter coupled wheels (5 foot, 6 inch), which improved the locomotive's acceleration. The tractive effort increased to 28,165lb at 85%, giving the locomotive a power group D classification. For details about how the GWR classification system worked see 'Engine Map'. The load was well distributed, with each of the three coupled wheels having an axle weight of 17 tons, 12 cwt, which allowed the locomotives to operate on Blue as well as Red routes. British Rail power class was 4MT. No 8100 was originally allocated to Leamington shed (LMTN) for use on suburban passenger duties. No 8100 remained in service until October 1962 when it was withdrawn from Leamington shed (84D).

Diesel Railcar No 22 was taken into service on 18th September 1940. The railcar was one of fifteen (Nos 19 to 33) designed for suburban and branch line traffic, with the capability of hauling an additional 60 tons (equivalent to two standard coaches). They were part of Lot 1635, ordered on 31st March 1939, which had their engines and transmissions provided by AEC and their underframes, brake-gear and bodies constructed at Swindon Works. The average unit cost was £6,240 (split as follows; AEC £3,138, Great Western Railway £3,102). Seating was provided for 48 passengers in two open compartments. Being for Suburban passenger traffic, these fifteen Diesel Railcars had their maximum speed geared for 40 mph and the curved streamlining of the previous ‘Flying Bananas’ was also considered superfluous, resulting in an easier to construct more angular outline being adopted. Diesel Railcar No 22 was delivered after the outbreak of the Second World War and initially placed in storage, but on 18th September 1941 started operating passenger services in South Wales, before moving to Worcester Shed (WOS) soon after the war had ceased. In November 1948 No 22 moved to Reading Shed (81D) and remained there for almost two years before being allocated to several Birmingham Division Sheds. In November 1957, No 22 was allocated to Worcester Shed (85A) from where the Diesel Railcar was withdrawn in October 1962. No 22 was purchased for preservation by the Great Western Society (GWS) in 1967 and after working for a period on the Severn Valley Railway was transferred to the GWS at Didcot in 1978.

Robert Ferris