NORTH WEST STEAM SPOT – “FOWLER CLASS 4 Passenger TANKS”

Standard

If there was such an animal as a typical Midland locomotive, then surely Henry Fowler’s class 4 passenger tanks were in that category. First built at Derby Works from1927, many of the class came to the northwest, in BR days particularly, although it was not until the early 1960s that there were ever more than half the total allocated to this area.  

NB: The heading image shows Banks Station, with the 17.59 from Preston, headed by LMS Fowler 2-6-4T No. 42369. This is a classic Fowler working on this Preston – Southport train, looking eastwards, towards Preston. The line and station was closed on 7/9/64 – less than two weeks after this photograph.

Photo: Ben Brooksbank, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12385024

Leading Dimensions

They were intended for heavy suburban and intermediate passenger work, and classified 4P, with steam pipes inside the smokebox on the original 1927 build. Modifications introduced in 1930 included outside steam pipes, side windows in the cab, and an altered smokebox saddle, with a solid bottom to the cylindrical wrapper. 

This latter, with outside steam pipes, was essentially adopted to eliminate a. corrosion problem, where the steam pipes had passed through the bottom of the smokebox and saddle. 

No. 42368 (built 1929, withdrawn 6/65) at Derby Locomotive Depot, shown here in the Locomotive Yard, with the Station visible in the left distance, clearly fresh from repair at the Works, and in almost pristine condition. This loco was later transferred to Gorton, where it would finish its days.
Photo: Ben Brooksbank, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18547307

In general, the modified locos. were the same as the earlier version and covered by diagram ED172C.  The parallel boiler was retained, supplying two outside cylinders, operated by Walschaerts valve gear, with long travel inside admission piston valves.  Other minor modifications included the provision of’ cast steel axleboxes, compared with the earlier, manganese bronze variety. The original cab and gangway door arrangement contributed to the draughty nature of the footplate, and the large gap behind was partially closed, and some locos. were fitted with folding doors. In early BR days, a number of engines we refitted with new, cast steel cylinders.

Operationally, the  class was a success from the word go, and have been reported by some sources as “excellent performers”.They were more economic to run than the later Stanier designs, on faster, heavier and more demanding duties. On building they were allocated numbers previously carried by a variety of, pre-grouping types, including North Staffordshire and Midland Railway 0-6-0s. In the north west they were assigned to duties originally undertaken by the Hughes, ex L & Y, Baltic tanks, where they proved highly successful. There were though, some curious differences in mileages run between general repairs. The engines allocated to Scotland for instance, were able to work 240,774 miles between repairs, whilst in England the figure was only slightly more than half this. 

In service with British Railways, the locos. were reclassified as mixed traffic, with just less than half allocated to northwest depots.  Of these, the majority were stabled in South Lancashire, North Cheshire and Derbyshire.  The engines sent to Oxenholme and Tebay were mainly for banking assistance on the climb to Shap, whilst the Furness line’s passenger duties were very largely powered by these class 4 tanks. By the mid 1950s, Buxton, Alsager and Tebay had lost their stock, though they could still be seen in some strength in the Potteries, North Cheshire and around Manchester.  Macclesfield for example had maintained a stud of 11 Fowler class 4’s for many years, but by the early 1960s they had been withdrawn.

No. 42376 (built 1932, withdrawn 11/62) at Lakeside, Windermere station in 1951 with a train for Ulverston. The loco was allocated to Stoke in 1950, but would have been reallocated to Barrow when this photo was taken.
Photo: Walter Dendy, deceased, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61421464
Another of Walter Dendy’s images captures No. 42301 (built 1927, withdrawn 10/63) at Windermere, on the Oxenholme-Kendal-Windermere branch off the West Coast Main Line. This 1951 view towards buffer-stops, captures the loco with a train for Morecambe.
Photo: Walter Dendy, deceased, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61368688

The class total too, was dramatically reduced at this time from 125 to a mere 16 in 1964, and were completely extinct soon after. 

The livery carried in British Railways days was mixed traffic black, lined red, cream and grey, with at one time or another, both designs of lion and wheel symbol being applied to the side tanks. They were, in this guise, a very attractive engine – what a pity only the Stanier and Fairburn types are represented in preservation. 

Allocations

1950

1954

1964

Class totals;

  • 1950 = 125, with 62 or 49.6% at northwest depots. 
  • 1954 = 125, with 53 or 42.4%at northwest depots. 
  • 1964 = 16,  with 12 or 75.0% at northwest depots. 

Further reading & Useful Links

  • LMS Locomotive Profiles No. 3: The Parallel Boiler 2-6-4 Tank Engines” – David Hunt, Bob Essery Fred James (2002) ISBN1-874103-72-0
  • “Engines of the LMS built 1923–51” – Rowledge, J.W.P. (1975).  Oxford: Oxford Publishing Company. ISBN0902888595.

The LMS Patriot Project and a NEW Build Fowler 2-6-4T

-oOo-

2 thoughts on “NORTH WEST STEAM SPOT – “FOWLER CLASS 4 Passenger TANKS”

  1. jim comrie

    A handful lived out their last years around Glasgow, in 62/3 to deputise for electric, blue trains which required door mods, as I recall. Found the remains in McLellan’s scrapyard Coatbridge

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that Jim. It seems these Fowlers were still useful 30 years on! Just discovered a photo of 42401 on a Facebook post on the Furness line – mid 50s I think, but it wasn’t in the North West in 64, and your mention of them in Glasgow made me wonder if 42401 was one of them in 62/63. Thanks again.

      Like

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