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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Southam Road and Harbury: gwrsrh1602

GWR 2-8-0 28xx class No 2848 passes Southam Road and Harbury Signal Box with an Up ‘Class H’ through heavy freight train

GWR 2-8-0 28xx class No 2848 passes Southam Road and Harbury Signal Box with an Up ‘Class H’ through heavy freight train heading for Banbury, circa 1937. The shirt-button motif introduced in 1934 can be seen on the side of the 3500 gallon tender. Most of the train appears to consist of uncovered open wagons indicating this is either an empty or mineral train. The first wagon is a five plank Open with side doors carrying an overlapping load of sawn timber. The fifth wagon and several after this are seven plank Opens with side doors (and possibly an end door). These are probably 12 ton Private Owner coal wagons. The signal box is a Great Western railway type 7D ordered in August 1912. It replaced an earlier 16 lever signal box which had been built here in 1882. The brick built locking room of the replacement signal box was 25 feet long by 11 feet wide. The roof was the typical hipped type with two torpedo vents and a stove chimney pipe.

The Signal Box housed a GW vertical tappet, three bar, locking frame with 33 levers (five spare) at four foot centres. The Signal Box was closed on 2nd April 1967 and a Ground Frame provided for the Up Refuge Siding. Locomotive No 2848 was built at Swindon Works in December 1912 as part of Lot 190. No 2848 was known to have been allocated to Cardiff shed (CDF) in January 1921 and to St Phillip’s Marsh shed (SPM) in Bristol in January 1934. In January 1935 and January 1938 the locomotive was known to have been allocated to Old Oak Common shed (PDN) in London. In October 1945 the Great Western Railway converted a 28xx class locomotive (No 2872) to oil burning as an experiment because of the shortage of good coal. The experiment was to be carried out in conjunction with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. Ltd. to afford useful data for determining the extent to which economies could be effected by the use of oil instead of coal. By mid 1946 a further ten 28xx locomotives had been converted and the experiment was deemed a success.

In the early months of 1947 national coal shortages become so severe that domestic coal was rationed and the lack of coal for power stations resulted in power cuts. The government authorised a programme to convert to oil burning 1,217 locomotives (including 172 from the Great Western Railway). On the list was No 2848 whose convertion to oil burning was completed in June 1947. The locomotive was also given a new number (No.4807). Only seven oil depots had been commissioned allowing operation between; the South West, Wales and London. (No 4807). was allocated to one of the oil depots at St Phillip’s Marsh in Bristol. Although the programme was technically a success, the cost of importing the oil was prohibitive and the logistics of supplying the oil to depots required unavailable capital expenditure, as a result the programme was officially abandoned in September 1947. No 4807 reverted back to coal burning and the original number (No 2848) was restored in July 1949. After almost another ten years of service No 2848 was finally withdrawn in June 1959 and sold for scrap to J Mahoney of Newport