MORE PRE-GROUPING DELIGHTS

Keith Farr concludes his analysis of the performance of 4-4-0 locomotives designed before the Grouping in 1923 which handled passenger trains with aplomb before the introduction of larger 4-6-0 and 4-6-2 types by the ‘Big Four’.

IT IS lunchtime at Bath (Green Park) station in 1958. The 1.10pm ‘all-stations’ to Templecombe, comprising three Southern coaches and a former LMS ‘2P’ 4-4-0, looks forlorn. But, tranquillity is broken by a shout from the ticket barrier to the guard: “Hang on Bill, we’ve got a passengerrr!”

The 4-4-0 steps slowly out from beneath the overall roof and, exhaust beats well-spaced and coupling rods ringing, accelerates past the loco depot before slowing for the sharp turn-out to the former Somerset & Dorset line at Bath Junction.

The track, now single, turns sharply left to rise at 1-in-50 to Devonshire and Combe Down tunnels, the grade and curvature bringing the ‘2P’ and its green cargo down to a very low speed; but, beyond the two tunnels and on to Midford Viaduct, double track is regained and the tempo rises – a little.

At Shoscombe and Single Hill Halt, we wait while a lady buys her ticket at the booking office up the slope; then, on to my immediate destination at Radstock to see one of the ‘Sentinel’ shunters serving nearby Tyning pit.

Against an industrial background, a pair of (nearly) new ‘D11/2’ 4-4-0s – Nos. 6379 and 6388 – climb Cowlairs Bank soon after the Grouping. The locos were later renumbered as Nos. 62672 and 62681. Both locos were supposedly named on introduction in 1924, but there is no sign of name application in this photo. RAIL PHOTOPRINTS COLLECTION

This was my only run behind a ‘2P’ working solo; usually they were pilots, one of which, paired with a ‘Jubilee’, attained 77mph descending from Sharnbrook Summit on the Midland Main Line. Cecil J Allen even reported 86mph behind such a pairing, expressing his concern for the crew hanging on to the 4-4-0! Did the ‘2Ps’ really assist – or did they sometimes hinder rather than help?

A word is necessary about their origins. Following the Johnson 4-4-0s, the final Midland Railway ‘2Ps’ appeared during the Deeley/Fowler period before the Grouping. Many were then rebuilt and the later LMS standard version was based on them, with coupled wheels of 6ft 9in diameter instead of 7ft 0½in; however, they retained such Midland characteristics as inadequate axleboxes, short-travel valve gear and tortuous steam passages, such was the influence of the Derby faction in the 1920s.

My June article concluded with a run behind a LNER ‘D16/3’, slowly accelerating along the level between Ely and Cambridge with a cross-country express. Now we move north, from the great skies of the Fens to the limestone hills and dry-stone walls of the Pennines, where we find a rebuilt Midland ‘2P’ battling with the long gradients of the Settle & Carlisle.

Not only was No. 432 on its own with the admittedly light-weight 11.45am St Pancras-Edinburgh express, but it was booked non-stop from Leeds to Carlisle. The log (Table 1) first appeared in The Railway Magazine for February 1925 and the run was described by Cecil J Allen, although it is not clear whether he timed it himself. The load is quoted as 30 axles, perhaps six eight-wheelers and a 12-wheel restaurant car, weighing 193 tons tare against the 180-ton limit quoted by ‘CJA’ for a ‘2P’ on this service.

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