Northwest Steam Spot – The Crimson Ramblers

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Preserved MR Compound No. 1000 piloting “Jubilee” “Leander” on a Cumbrian coast special to Sellafield, on the May Day Bank Holiday in 1980, passing Dalton Junction, to use the Barrow-in-Furness avoiding line.  Photo: Rodger Bradley

In 1948, there were still 40 of the original Midland Railway 3-cylinder compound locomotive design in service, but only one in the Northwest No. 41005 at Lancaster, with the reminder on the London Midland Region’s Midland lines. Of the LMS built engines, there were 69 at Northwest depots in 1950, and out of the total of 223 compounds in B.R. service, 161, or 72% were in London Midland stock. 62 locos. were at work in the Scottish Region, mostly in and around Carstairs, Ayr and Corkerhill, along with Carlisle Kingmoor.

One of the original Midland built compounds, seen here in early LMS livery, and by British Railways days, the engine was at Chester until its withdrawal.  Photo: Frank Dean/RPB Collection

Compound locomotives have not had a particularly happy history on Britain’s railways, but the design based on the Johnson-Smith-Deeley system were more successful than most. the first five locomotives were outshopped with only Saturated boilers from Derby Works in 1902/3, and even following Richard Deeley’s appointment in 1903, as CMEM of the Midland Rly., the compounds continued to be built in unsuperheated form. The original Midland engines were numbered 1000 – 1044, and from 1924 – 1927, and in 1932 (with some modifications), a further 195 were built as the standard express passenger power for the LMS.  These locos were numbered 900 – 939, and 1045 – 1199.

Although all 235 locos. were classed as 4P, there were significant mechanical differences that might logically have provided two classes. The basic layout involved two 21″ diameter low pressure cylinders, outside the frames, and a single 19″ diameter high pressure cylinder between, operated by Stephenson valve gear. The boiler was pressed to 200lbs/sq in, and in later Fowler built engines, a Schmidt type superheater was fitted. The original MR locomotives had 7’0″ coupled wheels, whilst the majority, and later LMS standard engines, were only 6’9″ diameter. This in turn, caused an increase in tractive effort from 21,840 lbs to 22,630 lbs, calculated at 80% of boiler pressure in the low-pressure cylinders.

Amongst the characteristic detail features of the compounds, more especially the LMS built locos perhaps, and rebuilds of the first Midland engines, included the straight sided Belpaire topped firebox, and cylindrical smokebox, with door fastened by six clamping dogs. The steam brakes operating cylinders were placed between the coupled wheels, and acted directly on the inner shoes, with a mechanical linkage to the outer shoes, giving a clasp type application of braking force. This was feature of the original series retained in later builds, with the operating arrangement of clasp type rigging used on most modern diesel and electric types.

The most obvious feature was of course the outside cylinders, with a long piston tail rod passing through the front end cover, over the leading bogie wheels. A curious feature of the cylinder layout, perhaps, was the use of slide valves to admit steam from the low pressure receiver to the low pressure cylinders, with a piston valve controlling the admission of high pressure steam to the high pressure cylinder steam chest.  A feature of the early locos. which was not continued, was the use of bogie brakes, and the rigging was removed from the engines it was originally attached to; an unnecessary complication tried on several loco. designs in the early years of the 20th Century.

Apart from the style of the chimney, dome and double buffer beam at the front end, typical Midland design was adopted in the construction of the cab, and straight sided six-wheeled tender. This was a Fowler design, based on Midland practice, carrying 3,500 gallons of water, 6 tons of coal, and provided with water pick-up gear.

A major difference between the LMS and Midland engines being that the original locos. were right hand drive GWR style! – the changeover to more conventional left hand drive was made on the 1924 series built by the LMS. With the exception of the coupled wheel diameter, all major external dimensions between the two versions were identical.

In British Railways days, the largest allocation of compounds in the Northwest was at Chester, where, in 1950, 13 were stabled, whilst Llandudno Jct. with 10 engines, was a close second. No less than 15 Northwest depots shared these 70 compounds, with the majority on the Manchester to Crewe, and Chester to Holyhead lines. The only representative of the original Midland Railway design was stabled at Lancaster, as B.R. No. 41005, and has some interesting points in its operational history. It was the first of the batch built by Richard Deeley, which covered locos. 41005 – 41044 and was rebuilt by Henry Fowler in 1932 with a superheated boiler, Ross ‘pop’ safety valves, and a typical Fowler steam dome which had a slightly flattened top.

One of Crewe North’s allocation seen here in early LMS days, was No. 1115, later renumbered 41115.  By 1954, the engine had been moved to Holyhead. 
Photo: Andy Dingley (scanner) – Scan from Allen, Cecil J. (1928) The Steel Highway, London: Longmans, Green & Co., pp. facing page. (II) 64, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10650082

By the mid 1950s, withdrawals had reduced the number of compounds in service to 56 (1954), out of a total on the London Midland Region of 131, just less than 43% of the total operating stock. However, by the end of the 50s, they had almost completely disappeared, with only 18 left at the beginning of 1959, and none of these was from the original Midland Railway build. Of course, by that time 41000 had been preserved at the Clapham Museum as No.1000, in fully lined LMS crimson lake livery.

Speaking of this, it remains a curious fact that although classified as a passenger type, they never appeared in British Railways lined green, which could have been an attractive scheme.

Instead, like some of the passenger tanks, and the ‘Black Fives’, they appeared in mixed traffic lined black colours, with the early British Railways lion and wheel emblem/totem in the middle of the tender sides.  As far as I know, none of the compounds received the later style of crest, which appeared from 1956 onwards.

Allocations

Notes

No allocations for 1964, since no compounds were then in service. Of the 75 remaining on the London Midland Region in 1954, almost one third were at work in the Birmingham area, with the remainder on the St Pancras to Manchester line, and a few in and around Leeds.

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

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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

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Early Main Line Diesel Locomotives of British Railways

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Diesel traction was pioneered in Britain by the LMSR in the 1930s, with a variety of shunting locomotive types, and by the late 1940s steps had been taken towards the arrival of the first diesel locomotive intended for main line workUnder the guidance of the LMSR’s C.M.E., H.G.Ivatt, and the co-operation of English Electric Ltd.,1600hp diesel-electric No.10.000 took to the rails in December 1947. 

Here was the first of an entirely new breed – the 16-cylinder English Electric diesel engine operating a generator, supplying power to the six electric motors driving the road wheels of the two bogies.  English Electric had long been involved with non-steam design and build, mostly for overseas railways, and were at the forefront of most development and innovation around the world. 

The use of traction motor/gear drives had already replaced the jackshaft/side rod drives of the pioneer shunters, but No.10,000 was its ultimate development on the LMS.  Diesel power was also the first step towards the elimination of steam locomotives as the principal source of main line motive power. But nobody looked at it that way then; it was the train of the future, something for small boys to marvel at on station platforms. 

These first main line diesel types were perhaps considered along the lines of proposed ‘atomic trains’, a far-off concept in the post-war era.  Strangely enough, by the time BR came to embark on its dieselisation programme, diesel locomotives had become smelly tin boxes on wheels, and the seeds of steam nostalgia were sown.  It’s doubtful that steam era footplatemen were anything other than happy with improved conditions.

So much for the train of the future!

Click on the image below for more information on the ex-LMS projects on British Railways:

The Southern Railway too was progressing with main line diesel traction in the post-war era, but it was not to be for a further three years after nationalisation that their locomotive appeared.  Meanwhile the GWR had decided as usual to pursue an independent course, with plans for gas turbine types, although these too would not be completed until 1950.

This cartoon appeared in the April 1948 issue of the railway’s “Carry On” magazine, and reflected the new technology, and its need for heavy fuel oil to power the locomotive, and not coal.

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