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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Tyseley Shed: gwrt357

GWR 0-6-0PT No 7758, a class 57xx full-cab locomotive, is seen outside on the road entering one of Tyseley's roundhouses on 21st June 1931

Great Western Railway 57xx class 0-6-0PT No 7758 outside one of Tyseley's roundhouses on 21st June 1931. No 7758 was built in December 1930 at a cost of £2,800 by the North British Locomotive Company as part of lot 274. The North British works plate can be seen on the leading wheel splasher. This was the fourth batch of twenty-five locomotives built by this company, which together with the previous batches (built on lots 256 and 264) made a total of one hundred pannier tank locomotives. 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.

No 7758 was the locomotive driven by Tyseley Engine Cleaner Peter Frederick Smout on Monday 26th August 1940, when he volunteered to remove wagons from the burning Bordesley Goods Shed after this had been set alight in a German air raid by incendiaries. He drove the locomotive in to the Goods Shed four times while bombs were still falling and despite the offside of the cab being too hot to touch. For his actions Peter Smout received the George Medal for gallantry and by February 1941 had been promoted to Fireman. Peter Smout was assisted by Small Heath Examiner Fredrick Francis Blake who acted as shunter, using his cap to operate the switch levers, which had also become too hot to handle. With assistance he propelled one burning wagon by hand to a place of safety and organised a squad of men to help remove other burning trucks. He later extinguished lesser fires on several other wagons. Fredrick Blake also received the George Medal for his gallantry.

Two days after the first German bombs dropped on London and the night after the retaliatory British bombing of Berlin, German aircraft carried out their ninth air raid over Birmingham during the night of 26th to 27th August 1940. This air-raid mainly affected the eastern side of the city with bombs falling in; Hall Green, Balsall Heath, Moseley, Sparkbrook, South Yardley, Hay Mills, Stechford, Hodge Hill, Bordesley, Small Heath, Gosta Green and Ladywood. During the air-raid 18 people died and a further 40 were recorded injured. On the Great Western Railway, Small Heath South Signal Box was damaged by a high explosive (HE) bomb, which severed telecommunications and power lines. An unexploded bomb (UXB) was feared at Bordesley Junction and further HE bombs had fallen nearby damaging 56xx class 0-6-2T locomotive No 6696 and causing trips to Washwood Heath (LMS) to be suspended until temporary repairs had been completed at 10:00am on next morning. The incendiaries that burnt down Bordesley Goods Shed resulted in the loss of 75 loaded wagons, 30 horse drawn vehicles, 9 tractors and 21 trailers, worth a total sum of £4,500, but no staff were injured.

No 7758 spent almost all its working life in the Midlands being initially allocated to Tyseley shed in January 1931 and stayed there until December 1940 (with a short allocation to Stourbridge shed between August and September 1936). In December 1940, No 7758 was allocated to Leamington shed, but returned again to Tyseley shed in March 1941, before finally being allocated to Duffryn Yard Shed in Port Talbot in May 1957. The locomotive survived there until June 1960, when it was withdrawn and in February 1962 scrapped by Dai Woodham of Barry.

Robert Ferris