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BR Period Locomotives: lnwrbns_br1810

British Railways Class 7 4-6-2 No 70044 'Earl Haig' is seen standing at the West end of Platform 5 with a down passenger service

British Railways Class 7 4-6-2 No 70044 'Earl Haig' is seen standing at the West end of Platform 5 with a down passenger service to Wolverhampton on 5th July 1953. Despite its sooty condition the locomotive was nearly ex-works being built the month previous being built at Crewe in June 1953 and destined to remain in service until October 1966 when it was withdrawn from Edgeley shed in Stockport and scrapped in February 1967 by TW Ward of Beighton. The Britannia class locomotive is carrying a Class 'C' headcode on the bufferbeam which is an anomaly as this code was for conveying parcels, fish, livestock, milk, fruit or perishables by XP stock. Perhaps it portrays an early corporate view of British Railways and its successors to the passenger or as they are known today, customers?

The standard arrangement of smoke deflectors fitted either side of the smokebox has had to be forgone because two Westinghouse air pumps are mounted on the front either side of the smokebox door. These had been fitted as part of the trials being undertaken to fit future coaching stock with air instead of vacuum braking. The name 'Earl Haig' was applied in February 1957 after the removal of the air pumps and the fitting of the smoke deflectors. The basic design of the Britannias owed much to LMS building practices, not surprising because Riddles was from the LMS man previously. The 'Pacific' incorporated the best of all the big four's designs utilising American inspired LMS practice in having a rocking grate, which allowed the fire to be rebuilt without stopping the locomotive, removing both ash and clinker on the move.

This influence included a self-cleaning smokebox which enabled ash to flow into the atmosphere, reducing the work load of the engine cleaner at the end of a working day. A single chimney was placed on top of the smokebox, which was unusual for a 'Pacific' type of locomotive. This was influenced by S O Ell at Swindon Works who demonstrated that better results could be obtained from a well-designed single chimney than some of the previous double chimney arrangements. The 'Britannias' had 6ft 2in driving wheels, a compromise that took into account the intended mixed-traffic role they were designed for. This meant that they were large enough for sustained fast running with heavy passenger trains, yet small enough to allow them to undertake more mundane tasks such as freight haulage.