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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Soho and Winson Green: gwrswg2292

Ex-GWR 49xx (Hall) class 4-6-0 No 5977 ‘Beckford Hall’ passes Soho and Winson Green Signal Box on the up relief line

Ex-Great Western Railway 49xx (Hall) class 4-6-0 No 5977 ‘Beckford Hall’ passes Soho and Winson Green Signal Box on the up relief line with a Hereford to Birmingham (Snow Hill) express in August 1956. This signal box was a standard Great Western Railway type 27C timber signal box, fitted with a vertical tappet three bar locking frame containing sixty-one levers at four inch centres. The signal box was 38 feet, 2 inches long by 14 feet wide and the operating floor was 10 feet above the rail height. It had a hipped tile roof with three torpedo ventilators on the ridge and a stovepipe chimney.

Locomotive No 5977 was built in September 1938 at Swindon Works as part of lot 311. The Hall class locomotives were a development of the two cylinder express passenger Saint class locomotives. An existing locomotive, ‘Saint Martin’ was successfully modified in 1924 with six foot diameter wheels instead of its original 6 foot. 8 inch diameter wheels. With the same standard No 1 boiler as the Saint class, it developed a tractive effort at 85% of 27,275 lb, which classified them in power group D and their maximum axle weight was 18 tons, 9 cwt, which limited them to main lines and some branch lines (Route code - Red). Despite this route limitation, the design proved to be extremely successful and the locomotives were found to be equally at home hauling heavy freight trains or fast express services. As a result, by August 1939 there were one hundred and eighty six 49xx locomotives distributed across the Great Western Railway.

Locomotive No 5977 was originally allocated to Worcester shed (WOS). Just prior to nationalisation in December 1947, No 5977 was allocated to Cardiff shed (CDF). The locomotive was withdrawn from Reading shed (81D) in August 1963 and sold to Cashmore, Newport for disposal.

Robert Ferris