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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Soho and Winson Green: gwrswg3097

Ex-GWR 4-6-0 No 6002 ‘King William IV’ has a clear route on the up main line into Birmingham on 21st March 1956

Ex-Great Western Railway 4-6-0 60xx (King) class No 6002 ‘King William IV’ has a clear route on the up main line into Birmingham on 21st March 1956. The class A lamp headcode signifies an express, but the three figure route identification frame on the locomotive’s smokebox is empty (for more details see 'headcodes').

Soho and Winson Green Signal Box was a standard Great Western Railway type 27C timber signal box opened in June 1912 when the route was quadrupled. The signal box was 38 feet, 2 inches long by 14 feet wide with an operating floor 10 feet above the rail height. This was glazed with the typical Great Western Railway three up / two down horizontal sash windows to give good visability. The Signal box had a hipped tile roof with three torpedo ventilators on the ridge and a stovepipe chimney. It held a vertical tappet three bar locking frame containing sixty-one levers at four inch centres. The signal box controlled signalling for the block sections on the main and relief lines, plus the down goods line and was positioned adjacent to a series of crossovers between the main and relief lines (see signalling diagram 'gwrswg2288'). The semaphore signals seen here controlled the up main (both home and distant arms lowered), the crossover to the up relief (home and distant) and access to the up goods line (home only). The tubular steel post and dolls on a steel gantry style bracket are replacements for the original wooden post with cast iron bracket.

Locomotive No 6002 was built in July 1927 at Swindon works as part of Lot 243 and was originally allocated to Laira shed (LA) near Plymouth. The King class were the largest of the Great Western Railway's locomotives, built to the limits of the loading gauge and main line civil engineering restrictions. They weighed over 135 tons (loaded) and had a maximum axle weight of 22 tons, 10 cwt, which limited them to ‘hatched or Double Red’ main line routes. They had six foot, six inch coupled wheels, four 16.25 inch cylinders and a new boiler design (standard No 12), which operated at a pressure of 250 lbs and delivered a tractive effort at 85% of 40,300 lbs (for details of the Great Western Railway classification system see 'Engine Map'). As one of the most powerful locomotives at the time, No 6002 was destined to haul the crack passenger expresses on the Paddington and West Country route, but 60xx class locomotives were also used on the Birmingham Main Line between Paddington and Wolverhampton, where due to their axle weight many bridges were required to be strengthened (see bridge tests on new quadrupled lines at 'gwrwm1592' and 'gwro1578'). Following draughting experiments double chimneys were fitted to the 60xx class, with No 6002 receiving this modification in March 1956. Other alterations at this time included; a four row superheated boiler, a self-cleaning smokebox (note letters SC below shed code on smokebox) and the mechanical lubricator being moved forward of the steam pipes. By September 1960 the West Country route became the preserve of the new diesel-hydraulic locomotives with many of the displaced 60xx class locomotives transferring to either Old Oak Common shed outside Paddington or Stafford Road shed in Wolverhampton, for work on the northern route. No 6002 was allocated to Old Oak Common shed (81A) in December 1954 and was withdrawn from Stafford Road shed (84A) in September 1962 having completed 1,891,952 miles. The locomotive was subsequently sold to Cox & Danks of Langley Green near Oldbury for disposal.

Robert Ferris