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GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Wood End Platform: gwrwe2887

Great Western Railway 0-6-0 '388' (Standard Goods or Armstrong Goods) class No 1203 leaves Wood End tunnel with a class K ordinary freight train circa 1924

Great Western Railway 0-6-0 '388' (Standard Goods or Armstrong Goods) class No 1203 leaves Wood End tunnel with a class K ordinary freight train circa 1924.

No 1203 was built in June 1876 at Swindon Works as part of lot 42. Lot 42 was for the final ten locomotives in this numerous class, which eventually totalled 310 locomotives and became known as the Standard Goods class. The first of the class No 388 had been built ten years previously, but the locomotive numbering was not consecutive with the vacant numbers from scrapped locomotives being reused. Later after the construction of the first few lots of the '2301' (Dean Goods) class locomotives, the 'Standard Goods' title was usurped and thereafter the '388' class was generally referred to as 'Armstrong Goods'. The Armstrong Goods class were outside framed locomotives with spring lever hangers above the deck and five foot coupled wheels. The inside cylinders were 17 inch diameter with a 24 inch stroke. The locomotives were originally fitted with a parallel boiler, the domes of which were painted. When the Great Western Railway engine map was introduced the Armstrong Goods class with a tractive effort at 85% of 13,313 lbs was given a group A power classification. Initially the leading and driving axle weights exceeded 14 tons, which meant Yellow route availability, but later arrangements redistributed the axle weights and the locomotives were allowed to work on all lines (uncoloured routes). For details of how this system worked see 'engine map'.

With the class conduction extending over a ten year period, it is not surprising to find several different boiler designs on these locomotives, but these were eventually rationalised to the standard No 6 boiler (class O), which was 11 foot long with a 4 foot, 5 inch diameter. No 1203 always had a parallel boiler with large dome, but several boiler variants were fitted during overhauls. In June 1895 a S4 boiler was fitted and this had the dome positioned closer to the firebox. In July 1904 a similar but slightly smaller diameter (4 foot, 3 inch) S4c boiler was fitted, while in February 1907 a standard S4 boiler was fitted. In September 1909 a S2 boiler was fitted with the dome located closer to the chimney, but the rear mounted dome S4 boiler arrangement returned in February 1913. A B4 boiler with a raised Belpaire firebox and large rear dome was fitted in July 1921 and the photograph shows the locomotive in this final form. No superheating or top-feed arrangements were ever fitted. No 1203 was initially allocated to Oxford Shed (OXF) and was withdrawn from Oxford Shed in August 1925. By this time the role of the Armstrong Goods class had been superseded by the introduction of the more powerful 2-6-0 mixed traffic locomotives and by January 1924, this once numerous class had been reduced to just 40 locomotives.

In the photograph the first wagon in the train is a 21 foot long ventilated covered van (telegraphic code Mink C) with a 12 foot wheelbase. A total of 425 Mink C wagons were built on three lots (L528, L537 and L546) between 1906 and 1907 to diagram V7. They had two double hinged doors on each side and a load capacity of ten tons. These covered wagons were all vacuum braked and it is worth noting the marshalling instructions on page 176 of the General Appendix to the Rules and Regulations (issued October 1920) which specify that 'All other Stock fitted with the Vacuum Brake to be formed immediately to the rear of the Engine, and the Vacuum Pipes coupled. These vehicles to be kept on the engine during shunting in the same way as a Shunting Truck.'

Robert Ferris