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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Tyseley Shed: gwrt356

GWR 0-6-0PT No 7714, a class 57xx full-cab locomotive, is seen standing in line in front of Tyseley shed

Great Western Railway 0-6-0PT No 7714, a class 57xx full-cab pannier tank locomotive, is seen standing in line in front of Tyseley shed circa 1933. No 7714 was built in April 1930 at a cost of £1,160 by Kerr Stuart of Stoke on Trent as part of lot 263. This lot consisted of twenty-five locomotives numbered 7700 to 7724 (Kerr Stuart work numbers 4435 to 4459) and the Kerr Stuart works plate (No 4449) can be seen on the leading wheel splasher. The Great Western Railway eventually had 863 of these 57xx class locomotives, of which 250 were built by various external British locomotive works with money from the Government's Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) Act of 1929. This scheme had been introduced to alleviate unemployment caused by the depression.

These pannier tank locomotives were designed in 1929 as replacements for an ageing fleet of Victorian outside-frame shunting locomotives (including a collection, in varying condition, inherited from the absorbed companies in 1923). The 57xx class was based on the successful 2721 class 0-6-0 saddle tanks, which had been built around the turn of the century, but when fitted with belpaire fireboxes shortly after, the saddle tanks were replaced with 1,200 gallon capacity pannier tanks due to the rectangular shape of the new firebox. It was found that pannier tanks reduced the centre of gravity of the locomotives giving greater stability, which allowed them to safely operate at greater speeds. The 57xx class had various improvements over their predecessors including; enclosed cabs, enlarged bunkers and a boiler which operated at 200lb pressure, resulting in a tractive effort at 85% of 22,515 lbs (Power group C), while a maximum axle weight of 16 tons 15 cwt, restricted the locomotive to all main and some branch lines (route colour Blue). See Engine Map for more details of the Great Western Railway locomotive classification system.

No 7714 was initially allocated to Tyseley shed (TYS) in June 1930 and stayed there until December 1937 (excluding a brief spell at Leamington Spa shed between November and December 1931). In December 1937, No 7714 was allocated to Birkenhead shed and remained there until December 1958. In 1950 British Railways had reclassified the 57xx locomotives to operate on Yellow Routes due to their negligible hammer blow and in December 1958 No 7714 moved to Croes Newydd shed at Wrexham, but was withdrawn the following month having run 520,259 miles. The locomotive was sold to the National Coal Board (NCB) for service at Penallta Colliery near Rhymney in South Wales, but the colliery railway's sharp radius curves were not ideal for the wheel arrangement and it was mainly used as backup motive power. In 1973 the locomotive was sold in to preservation at the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) and following a long restoration period it steamed again at Kidderminster on 28th July 1992. It was used regularly on SVR services, but needed to be withdrawn from service in September 2009 for a major overhaul. It was for some years displayed as a static attraction in the SVR Engine House Museum, but in 2014 was moved to Bridgenorth for a replacement boiler.

Robert Ferris