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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Tyseley Shed: gwrt2986

Great Western Railway 4-6-0 29xx (Saint) class No 2987 ‘Bride of Lammermoor’ inside Tyseley Roundhouse in the 1940s

Great Western Railway 4-6-0 29xx (Saint) class No 2987 ‘Bride of Lammermoor’ inside Tyseley Roundhouse in the 1940s. This locomotive is believed to have been based at Hereford Shed at this time, where the resident ‘Saint’ class locomotives were known as the ‘Hereford Castles’ because they were regularly rostered to haul heavy passenger express turns, comprising up to seventeen coaches, between Pontypool and Shrewsbury.

This locomotive was built at Swindon Works in August 1905 as 4-4-2 No 187 and named ‘Robertson’. The Great Western Railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer George Churchward wanted to compare the effectiveness of different wheel configurations, so built several almost identical locomotives with 4-4-2 and 4-6-0 wheel arrangements. In April 1907, No 187 was renamed ‘Bride of Lammermoor’ after a popular novel by Walter Scott and the locomotive’s original name was given to the previously unnamed 4-6-0 ‘Saint’ class locomotive No 177, (later No 2977). As built No 187 had a half coned domeless standard No 1 boiler (94d) with Belpaire firebox. The boiler pressure was 225 lb producing a tractive effort at 85% of 23,090 lb – power group C. The maximum axle weight was 18 tons, 4 cwt which limited the locomotive to main lines and a few branch lines – Route Colour Red. See 'Engine Map' for more details of Great Western Railway Classification system. The introduction of standard boilers by George Churchward meant that frequent boiler changes were possible with a minimum of downtime and it was common practice for a boiler to be changed in as little as one year. The replacement standard boiler could incorporate the latest technology changes or might be a refurbished older version. This resulted in a locomotive’s appearance changing, especially if the opportunity was taken to fit different chimneys or safety valves. The boiler on No 187 was changed to a fully coned domeless boiler in August 1908 and an experimental plate strut was also fitted to support the front end. Then a year later at a subsequent boiler change in August 1909, it was changed back to the original half coned (94d) boiler design.

No 187 was withdrawn from service for major modifications in April 1912 when; the frames were given a curved fall plate, a fully coned standard No 1 boiler with superheating elements was fitted, and larger 18½ inch diameter cylinders fitted, which increased the tractive effort at 85% to 24,395 lb. The locomotive reappeared in June 1912 converted to the preferred 4-6-0 wheel arrangement and on 28th December 1912 the transformation was completed, when No 187 was renumbered No 2987. With the exception of variations in superheating arrangements, few other alterations occurred to No 2987 until outside steam pipes were fitted in March 1942, and there is no record of the locomotive being fitted with Automatic Train Control (ATC). The ‘Saint’ class locomotives were designed to haul express passenger services and No 2987 was originally allocated to Exeter shed (EXE) for these duties. No 2987 remained in the West Country until displaced on to secondary routes following the proliferation of the ‘Castle’ class locomotives in the 1930s. In January 1938 No 2987 was known to have been one of seven ‘Saint’ class locomotives allocated to Cardiff shed and prior to nationalisation in December 1947, No 2987 was allocated to Hereford Shed from where the locomotive was withdrawn in October 1949.

Robert Ferris