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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Tyseley Shed: gwrt3981

Ex-Great Western Railway 0-6-0PT (57xx class) Pannier Tank No 3619 sits in Tyseley Locomotive Shed in the mid 1960s

Ex-Great Western Railway 0-6-0PT (57xx class) Pannier Tank No.3619 sits in Tyseley Locomotive Shed in the mid 1960s. The end of steam is near and the locomotive’s number is now painted, where the cast iron cabside and smokebox plates were once previously fitted.

The 57xx class of Pannier Tank locomotives were built between 1929 and 1950. They were useful for shunting and any kind of short distance traffic, either passenger or frieght. Eventually the 57xx class would total 863 locomotives. They were designed 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. When these locomotives were reboilered, the more efficient Belpaire firebox was fitted. This required the saddle tanks to be replaced with 1,200 gallon capacity pannier tanks, due to the rectangular shape of this firebox. It was subsequently found that pannier tanks reduced the centre of gravity of the locomotives giving it 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. This resulted 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. In 1950 British Railways reclassified the 57xx locomotives to operate on Yellow Routes due to their negligible hammer blow. In the West Midlands this allowed 57xx class Pannier Tanks to operate the freight services over the busy Old Hill - Halesowen branch, which was route coded ‘Yellow’. Beyond Halesowen the line to Longbridge was further restricted over the Dowery Dell viaduct, which prevented even 57xx class locomotives being used. Here small Pannier Tanks hauled the trains of motor car components from Oxford to Longbridge until 1961 (with the Workman’s Trains ceasing in August 1958). In April 1965 the viaduct was demolished leaving only the branch to Halesowen.

Locomotive No 3619 was built at Swindon Works in April 1939 as part of Lot 314. The locomotive was initially based at Old Oak Common Shed (PADD). After nationalisation in October 1949, No 3619 moved briefly to Chester Shed (84K), before being allocated, in December 1949, to Tyseley Shed (84E). Then in September 1951, No.3619 was allocated to Leamington Spa Shed (84D). Next stop was Kidderminster Shed (85G) in May 1962, but when that shed closed in August 1964, the locomotive was moved along the line to Stourbridge Junction Shed (2C). From this time, No.3619 was a regular locomotive on the Halesowen branch. Stourbridge Junction Shed closed in July 1966 and No.3619 was transferred to Tyseley Shed (now 2A), before being finally withdrawn from there in September 1966.

Robert Ferris