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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Queens Head Yard: gwrqhy2010

British Railways 4073 class 4-6-0 No 7022 'Hereford Castle' was photographed on the Down relief line from Queen's Head Signal Box on 22nd July 1964

British Railways 4073 (Castle) class 4-6-0 No 7022 'Hereford Castle' was photographed on the Down relief line from Queen's Head Signal Box on 22nd July 1964. The lower quadrant signals indicate that the line ahead is clear.

Signals and switches were operated by a mechanical system involving the movement of signal wires and point rodding respectively. These moved when the manual levers in the Signal Box were operated, with a typical movement being between 4 and 7 inches for switches and twice that for signals. The signal wires were supported by pulley wheels attached to short stakes about eight yards apart and the point rodding was laid in a series of roller frames at approximately three yards apart. These arrangements can be clearly seen at the edge of the track in the photograph. The maximum length of any point rodding to a manually operated switch was limited to 350 yards by the Board of Trade.

In the centre of the down relief line adjacent to the signal post is an Automatic Train Control (ATC) ramp, which if the associated Distant signal was at caution, activated an audible alarm in the locomotive's cab. This alarm had to be cancelled by the driver or the vacuum brake would be automatically applied.

Locomotive No 7022 was built in June 1949 at Swindon Works as part lot 367. Although this locomotive was built after nationalisation, it was to a Great Western Railway design which had left the drawing board in 1923. They were crack passenger express locomotives with four cylinders. The class were fitted with tapered boilers and a belpaire firebox. The boiler pressure of 225 lb produced a tractive effort at 85% of 31,625 lb. To improve efficiency, the later locomotives were fitted with four-row superheaters, giving a calculated temperature of 660 °F and a mechanical lubricator was required to feed oil into the cylinders. This was positioned on the running board just behind the steam pipes. British Railways classified these locomotives as 6P, but increased it to 7P in 1951. Following experimental work to improve the draughting of the boiler, double chimneys were fitted, with No 7022 receiving this feature in December 1957.

Locomotive No 7022 was initially allocated to Cardiff shed (86C) and in March 1959 was known to have been allocated to Laira shed (83D) at Plymouth. No 7022 was finally withdrawn from Gloucester shed (85B) in June 1965 having completed a mileage of 733,069 miles and was sold for disposal to Birds at Bridgend.

Locomotive No 7022 is seen here with a full Hawksworth pattern flush-bottom / straight-sided tender. These tenders could hold 4,000 gallons of water and 6 tons of coal. The dome at the back of the tender allowed it to be filled while moving, with water scooped up from water troughs.

Robert Ferris