·  LMS  ·  GWR  ·  LNER  ·  Misc  ·  Stations  ·  What's New  ·  Video  ·  Guestbook  ·  About

GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Wood End Platform: gwrwe2841

Ex-GWR 2-6-2T 51xx class No 4170 is seen approaching Wood End tunnel whilst at the head of the 6 40pm Birmingham Moor Street to Stratford upon Avon service

Great Western Railway 4-4-0 38xx (County) class No 3801 ‘County Carlow’ on a Penzance to Wolverhampton express near Wood End shortly after the line opened. Photographer Salmon L Henry. The train appears to be comprised entirely of clerestory coaches with the leading coach being a ganged corridor brake third with toilet, four compartments, guard’s compartment with lookout and a large luggage area. This is probably one of the 56 foot long diagram D30/D31 coaches built in 1900 under carriage lots 931, 953 and 955. All three lots were each for ten coaches, but half of lot 931 and all of lot 953 were arranged with the corridor on the other side (hence the two diagram numbers).

Locomotive No 3801 was built in October 1906 at Swindon Works as part of lot 165. The County class designed as express locomotives by George Churchward, was influenced by American practice; with the outside cylinders and valve chest cast in two identical pieces and bolted together to form a rigid saddle under the smoke box. This arrangement eliminated the requirement for multiple steam tight joints and became the standard for all future classes having 18 inch x 30 inch cylinders and 10 inch pistons. The locomotives were fitted with a Standard No 4 boiler operating at 200 lb pressure to produce a tractive effort at 85% of 20,530 lb and this meant that these locomotives were classified in power group C. Between 1909 and 1912 these locomotives had the boiler steam temperature increased through superheating, which also removed condensation from the cylinders and made the boiler more efficient. No 3801 received a 14 tube / 84 element superheated boiler in May 1912. As built, the maximum axle weight was 19 tons, 8 cwt, which limited the locomotive to main lines and a few branch lines (Route colour - Red). See 'Engine Map' for more details of the Great Western Railway’s classification system.

The locomotives were used for principle expresses, but as more powerful 4-6-0 locomotives became available these 4-4-0 locomotives were relegated to cross country routes and in particular the Birmingham to Bristol expresses where the Great Western Railway utilised running rights over the Midland Railway between Standish Junction and Yate. The Midland Railway limited this line to 4-4-0 locomotives due to weight restrictions over the Stonehouse Viaduct. Only in 1927, was this restriction finally lifted following work by the Bridge Stress Committee. It is worth noting that the County Class locomotives had a reputation of rough riding and this was found to be due to the hammer blow, caused by the amount of counterbalance to the reciprocating parts of the motion and the short rigid wheelbase. This dynamic hammer blow and not a locomotive’s static weight was found to be more damaging to the permanent way. The calculations indicated that the combined axle load (including hammer blow) of a typical County class 4-4-0 locomotive was almost 30% more than that of the prohibited Star class 4-6-0 locomotive, despite this later having both a heavier axle weight and total weight.

No 3801 was initially allocated to Bristol Shed (SPM) and was known to be allocated to Westbury Shed (WES) in January 1921, being withdrawn from there ten years later in April 1931.

Robert Ferris

Photographer Henry L Salmon