GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton
Leamington Spa - BR Locomotives: gwrls3902
Great Western Railway 0-6-2T 56xx class No 6671 in
Leamington Spa Engine Shed on Saturday 3rd April 1965. The end of mainline
steam was near and chalk numbers and letters have replaced both the Smokebox
Number (6671) plate and Shed Code (2L) plate. Leamington Shed closed on 14th
June 1965 and No 6671 was reallocated to Banbury Shed (2D) before being
withdrawn from there in October 1965.
The 56xx class locomotives were designed to replace the
obsolete 0-6-2T locomotives of the South Wales companies absorbed in the
Grouping of 1921. The wheel arrangement had been found ideal for moving the
heavy coal trains down the steep valley railway lines from collieries to docks.
The 56xx class locomotives were fitted with a GWR standard No 2 boiler
operating at 200 lb pressure which gave a tractive effort (at 85%) of 25,800
lbs (power group D). The maximum axle weight of 18 tons, 17 cwt limited
the locomotives to main lines and a few branch lines (route colour Red).
In total two hundred 56xx class locomotives were built between 1924 and 1928
with the last fifty (6650 6699) being built by Armstrong Whitworth Ltd
at their Scotswood Works in Newcastle upon Tyne (lot 255).
Locomotive No 6671 was built by Armstrong Whitworth Ltd and
together with Nos 6670, 6672, 6673 and 6674 arrived at Swindon Works on Friday
14th September 1928. These five locomotives were all initially allocated to
Cathays Shed (CYS) at Cardiff and were transferred there before the end of the
month. During the 1930s 133 of the 56xx class locomotives (including all those
with numbers above 6600) were fitted with Automatic Train Control (ATC) and the
ATC contact shoe can be clearly seen on No 6671 in the photograph. A small
number of 56xx class locomotives had initially been allocated to English Sheds
for short haul heavy freight duties, but the number in the Midland Division
steadily increased as the South Wales coal traffic declined. In November 1946,
No 6671 was allocated to St Phillips Marsh Shed (SPM) in Bristol and moved to
Worcester Shed (85A) in September 1961. No 6671 was allocated to Leamington Spa
Shed (84D) in January 1962.