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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Soho and Winson Green: gwrswg2289

Ex-GWR 2251 class 0-6-0 No 3211 passing Soho and Winson Green station on the up relief line with a class H headcode circa 1955

Ex-GWR 2251 class 0-6-0 No 3211 passing Soho and Winson Green station on the up relief line with a class H headcode, indicating an unfitted through freight, circa 1955. Both the up and down relief tracks here are in the process of being replaced and are awaiting new ballast. On the down platform can be seen sleepers, while spare rails can be seen in the centre of the track under the locomotive.

At the end of the platform, adjacent to the signal post on the left of the photograph is a wooden hut. This gave some protection for a Fog signalman, who in the event of snow or foggy weather would be stationed at critical locations on the main lines. He would be provided with coloured lamps, red, green and yellow flags and at least 36 detonators. When the starting signal for the set route was at Danger, the Fog signalman was required to display a red light, exhibit a red flag and place a detonator on the track (where there was ATC, two detonators were placed 10 yards apart). If the starting signal was set to All Clear, but the distant signal was set to Caution, then a yellow light and flag were displayed, in addition to the detonator.

Locomotive No 3211 was built in December 1947 at Swindon Works as part of lot 360 and was originally allocated to Didcot shed (DID). The 2251 class locomotives were designed to replace the aging 0-6-0 Dean Goods locomotives. They carried a superheated standard No 10 boiler operating at 200 lb and delivering a tractive effort (at 85%) of 20,155 lb, classifying the locomotive in Power Group B. This boiler was a modified standard No 2 boiler, which had previously been used on several absorbed classes. The maximum axle weight of 15 tons, 18 cwt, which meant the locomotive could operate on all main lines and nearly all branch lines (Route colour – yellow). The 120 locomotive in this class proved to be worthy successors to the Dean Goods locomotives and could regularly be seen on light passenger turns, in addition to their freight duties, but the closure of the cross country routes and introduction of diesel multiple units shortened their useful life. Locomotive No 3211 was withdrawn from Didcot Shed (81E) in September 1962 after just 15 years.

Robert Ferris