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LMS Route: Birmingham New Street to Nuneaton

Nuneaton Abbey Street Station: mrna1096

A 1937 photograph showing an unidentified ex-LMS 3F 0-6-0 locomotive piloting an unknown ex-LNWR 0-8-0 locomotive on a freight through Abbey Street station

A 1937 photograph showing an unidentified ex-LMS 3F 0-6-0 locomotive piloting an unknown ex-LNWR 0-8-0 locomotive on a freight through Abbey Street station. The 0-8-0 locomotive had been the principal freight locomotive for the former LNWR and despite the building of many 4F locomotives, a former MR design, it remained true of the LMS until Stanier's ubiquitous 8F 2-8-0 design. Designed by Charles J Bowen-Cooke they are collectively known today as 'Super Ds' covering the different types of 0-8-0s built between 1910 and 1922 as well as the rebuilds carried out between 1936 and 1947 using the G2a boiler. The total taken into BR ownership in 1948 was 478 locomotives being made up of 98 G1 6F Class locomotives, 60 G2 7F Class locomotives, and 320 G2a 7F Class locomotives. These impressive goods engines underwent various rebuilds and evolved into three distinct sub-classes, but all were known to railwaymen as ‘Super Ds’. The term originally referred to a class of 62 engines that were, in fact, rebuilds from an earlier Francis W Webb three-cylinder design but had larger boilers. Between 1923 and 1927 these locomotives were rebuilt, becoming the G1 type. At that period in time, enginemen had become used to calling every 0-8-0 engine with a large boiler a ‘D’. After 1912, the practice of using superheating in boiler design gave rise to the term ‘Super’, hence these large-boilered 0-8-0s all became known as ‘Super Ds’.

Steam created in the boiler at a specified pressure and temperature is known as saturated steam, as it is in contact with the water. Basically the principle involves passing the saturated steam through a series of heater elements situated in the boiler’s large flue tubes. The resultant steam when fed to the cylinders is hotter, drier and, as a result, has greater expansive qualities, thus producing more power. The ‘Super D’ earned the reputation of being a very vocal locomotive and they could be heard miles away with their ‘two-loud-then-two-gentle’ exhaust beats, with the second of the loud beats being noticeably louder than the first. In addition, the distinctive wheeze attributed to the type of Joy valve gear used on these engines, in conjunction with the constant ringing of the side rods, reportedly made them audibly unique even when they were not working flat-out. The combined class gave great service and, although withdrawal from traffic started in 1947, several engines earned a reprieve and were, in fact, given heavy overhauls owing to a shortage of freight engines in the period immediately after the Second World War. The last five to work were still allocated to the engine sheds at Bescot (21B) and Bushbury (21C) in 1964. Only one locomotive survived into preservation and that example is No 49395. It is a G2, which was built in 1921 and retired from Buxton depot in the late 1950s. It is part of the National Collection.

Keith Langston