WD Class 8F 2‑8‑0 No. 90529
A begrimed WD Class 8F 2‑8‑0 No. 90529, allocated to 41E Staveley Barrow Hill, clanks its way towards the camera as it sets off southbound towards Blackwell out of Barnt Green after a signal check on a rain‑soaked day in June 1964 with a Class 8 loose‑coupled freight consisting of a long rake of empty mineral wagons.
Photograph by Peter Hands
Several weeks has passed by since I first commenced my duties as a signalbox lad at Barnt Green and by now I’d become acquainted with other signalmen, two of which, Walter and Alf Drinkwater, were father and son, the latter employed permanently on relief duties anywhere from Redditch to Lifford Junction and the following amusing incident occurred when I was paired with Walter for a shift when my signalman, Gordon, was on holiday.
However warm or cold the box was, temperature wise, the stove was operational on a permanent basis, one of its main functions being to keep the billy‑can warm for the plethora of railwaymen who popped in for a ‘cuppa.’ It was a cardinal sin for the ‘bobby’ who, at the end of his shift, not to ‘stoke up’ the fire for his compatriot who was relieving him. When Walter and I arrived the stove was ‘throbbing,’ but within minutes of the relief signalman, whose names escapes me, departing, the fire within the stove died down to next to nothing and Walter was none too pleased. It transpired that the ‘relief,’ (covering for only one shift) had been too idle to rake out the ashes and top the stove up, and, seconds before we came on duty, poured copious amounts of paraffin into it, giving the impression he’d done his job efficiently.
Did Walter curse … he cursed and cursed and cursed … then, in a fit of pique, he opened the flap at the bottom of the stove and decided, in a foolhardy gesture in retrospect, to attack the remnants of the fire with a poker. Now Walter was not in the first flush of youth, but what happened next turned his physical body‑clock back forty years, when ‘self‑preservation’ kicked in. There must have been a build‑up of gases inside the bottom of the stove, for, as he ‘poked’ inside the flap a five‑foot sheet of flame roared out from the aperture. I have never seen anybody, before or since, move as fast as Walter did that day.
By now I was becoming used to the ‘three‑eight’ shift systems: early six until two, late two until ten and nights from ten until six (apart from the discomfort of trying to sleep during the daytime). I was also becoming familiar with the various bell‑codes, such as: 4 – express. 3‑1 local passenger. 3‑1‑1 express freights. 1‑4 loose‑coupled Class 8 goods etc. Trains travelling northbound, which were to be routed via Lifford Junction and along the New Street avoiding line through Camp hill before passing the Birmingham City ground at St. Andrews (up the ‘Blues’) had the special code of 2‑2‑2 sent to Barnt Green from Blackwell box, which in turn were then passes on to the ‘bobby’ at Halesowen Junction and so forth.
On the operational front, with the summer service having kicked in, things were hotting‑up with more and more relief expresses to the fore mainly in the hands of steam power. 1964, was, in my opinion, the last year when there was a glut of holiday extras to the west country coastal resorts before the motor car spelt the death‑knell of these services. Friday nights were particularly busy with some of the trains emanating from the Sheffield area being hauled by LNER B1 Class 4‑6‑0’s. LMS Jubilee Class 4‑6‑0’s noted during June, some observed more than once, were as follows:
45552 Silver Jubilee (5A Crewe – North), 45564 New South Wales (55A Leeds – Holbeck), 45593 Kolhapur (16F Burton), 45597 Barbados (55A Leeds – Holbeck), 45598 Basutoland (16F Burton), 45655 Keith (8B Warrington), 45670 Howard of Effingham (16C Derby), 45674 Duncan (2E Saltley), 45684 Jutland (16C Derby) and 45721 Impregnable (16F Burton).
LMS Class 8F 2‑8‑0 No. 48172
LMS Class 8F 2‑8‑0 No. 48172 descends the Lickey Incline between Blackwell and Bromsgrove with a train of oil tanks on 13th April 1963. Based at 85C Gloucester (Barnwood) since December 1962, 48172 moved on to pastures new at 82F Bath Green Park in May 1964 shortly before being withdrawn from service.
Photograph by Peter Hands
Other LMS types were:
‘Crab’ Class 2‑6‑0’s 42828 (10F Rose Grove) and 42892 (8H Birkenhead), Class 4F 0‑6‑0’s 44170 (55E Normanton), 44381 (16H Hasland) and 44571 (2E Saltley), Class 5 4‑6‑0’s 44759 and 44764, both from 5A Crewe (North), 44776 (2E Saltley) – V47 express, 44873 (2F Bescot) – 1X82 excursion, 44944 (2E Saltley), 45059 (16F Burton), 45144 (16C Derby), 45221 (16D Nottingham) and 45224 (16C Derby), Class 2 2‑6‑0 46522 (2F Bescot), Class 8F 2‑8‑0’s 48102 (16E Kirkby), 48123 (55D Royston), 48128 (16F Burton), 48183 (15B Wellingborough), 48184 and 48185, both of 16D Nottingham, 48248 (5D Stoke), 48253 (6B Mold Junction), 48272 (16E Kirkby), 48297 (8B Warrington), 48303 (16F Burton), 48362 (16C Derby), 48368 (16F Burton), 48507 (16G Westhouses), 48509 (10J Lancaster – Green Ayre), 48533 (9D Newton Heath), 48603 (1A Willesden), 48638 (16D Nottingham), 48694 (16F Burton), 48726 (2F Burton), 48746 (8A Edge Hill – Liverpool) and 48764 (8E Northwich).
The LNER was represented by:
B1 Class 4‑6‑0’s 61153 – V10 express, 61167 – V23 express, 61315 – V48 express and 61327 – N79 express (all allocated to 41D Canklow).
BR Standards and WD locomotives:
Class 5 4‑6‑0’s 73010 (1G Woodford Halse) and 73069 (14B Cricklewood – West), Class 4 2‑6‑0 76052 (2E Saltley), WD Class 8F 2‑8‑0’s 90599 (8L Aintree), 90392 (9G Gorton), 90139, 90149, 90290 and 90384, all of 41D Canklow, 90158, 90529 and 90587, all of 41E Staveley Barrow Hill, 90518 (50A York) and 90617 (55E Normanton). Class 9F 2‑10‑0’s 92164 (2E Saltley), 92070 (15A Leicester – Midland), 92050 (16E Kirkby), 92248 (82E Bristol Barrow Road) and finally, from 88A Cardiff East Dock, 92209, 92220 Evening Star, 92232, 92236 and 92237.
Former GWR types:
From: 2A Tyseley – Grange Class 4‑6‑0 6879 Overton Grange. 2B Oxley – Hall Class 4‑6‑0 6925 Hackness Hall. 2D Banbury – Hall Class 4‑6‑0 6916 Misterton Hall. 81D Reading – Hall Class 4‑6‑0 6953 Leighton Hall. 82E Bristol Barrow Road –Grange class 4‑6‑0 6838 Goodmoor Grange. 85A Worcester – Modified Hall Class 4‑6‑0 7928 Wolf Hall. 85B Gloucester (Horton Road) – Hall Class 4‑6‑0 6947 Helmingham Hall and Modified Hall Class 4‑6‑0 6985 Parwick Hall. 85D Bromsgrove – 9400 class 0‑6‑0PT’s 8403 and 8405. 86B Newport (Ebbw Junction) – Hall Class 4‑6‑0’s 5939 Tangley Hall and 6935Browsholme Hall and Grange Class 4‑6‑0 6813 Eastbury Grange and finally from 88A Cardiff East Dock – Grange Class 4‑6‑0’s 6820 Kingstone Grange and 6826 Nannerth Grange along with Hall Class 4‑6‑0’s 5984 Linden Hall, 6918 Sandon Hall, 6931 Aldborough Hall, 6932 Burwarton Hall, 6936 Breccles Hall, 6945 Glasfryn Hall, 6950 Kingsthorpe Hall and Modified Hall Class 4‑6‑0’s 6984 Owsden Hall and 7927 Willington Hall.
A fine selection of steam locomotive classes from Motive Power Depots the length and breadth of BR from locations as far apart as Cardiff to York, Reading to Sheffield and Merseyside to London.
To be continued.