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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Soho and Winson Green: gwrswg802

Ex-Great Western No.6016 King Edward V of the 60XX King Class hauls the up Cambrian Coast Express

Ex-Great Western No.6016 King Edward V of the 60XX King Class hauls the up Cambrian Coast Express through a less than pristine Soho & Winson Green Station on 20th November 1961. Prior to 1953 the engine on this express would be changed at Wolverhampton because of weight restrictions over the Shifnal Viaduct, which prevented these heavy locomotives travelling further north The viaduct was reconstructed in 1953 and King Class locomotives frequently travelled through to Shrewsbury after that date. No.6016 was completed at Swindon (as part of Lot 243) at a cost of £6,383 and taken on stock on 16th June 1928.

Initially this locomotive was based at Laira (Plymouth) shed and regularly hauled crack express trains, such as the Cornish Riviera, between Paddington and the West Country. After nationalisation No.6016 was painted Blue in December 1949, but in February 1953 became Brunswick green again. Only in 1952 did No.6016 become associated with Paddington and West Midland expresses, when the locomotive moved to Stafford Road (Wolverhampton) shed. It was at that time when British Railways carried out draughting experiments, which resulted in a change to the chimney liner on the entire King Class.

In 1953 No.6016 was chosen for an experiment with a new design of outside steam pipes, which would reduce the tendency of the pipes to fracture when the frames flexed. This modification was considered a success at the time and was also introduced to the rest of the class. In January 1956, following two serious failures of bogies, the whole King Class was withdrawn for the application of strengthening strips to the bogies, but during this work it was found that the previous modifications had resulted in significant additional stresses to the frames, so further repairs became necessary. With so many crack express locomotives out of service for repairs at the same time, the press dubbed this the ‘King Crisis’ and locomotives from other regions had to be drafted in for a month.

In January 1958 No.6016 was fitted with a double chimney, in common with other King Class locomotives. This modification had been found to reduce exhaust pressure, resulting in improved performance and increased speed. From February 1959 to end of 1960 the West Country beckoned again, but No.6016 was finally withdrawn from Stafford Road shed on 9th September 1962 having travelled 1,811,207 miles. On 14th November 1963, No.6016 was sold for scrap to Cox & Danks of Langley Green. Despite their limited route availability all the King Class engines gave an excellent service. In the end breakdowns plagued their later years and they were eventually displaced by diesel locomotives.

Robert Ferris