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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Leamington Spa - GWR Locomotives: gwrls205

GWR 45xx class 2-6-2T Small Prairie No 5544 with two non-corridor toplight coaches on a down local

GWR 45xx class 2-6-2T Small Prairie No 5544 with two non-corridor coaches on a down local, probably to Stratford upon Avon circa 1935. Russ Elliott writes in response to the original description of the first two coaches described as two non-corridor toplight coaches, 'the first coach looks like a Clerestory whilst the second coach looks like a Collett coach'. Built at Swindon in August 1928 No 5544 was known to be allocated to Kidderminster Shed in 1934. In September 1962 No 5544 was withdrawn from Plymouth Shed (83D) and scrapped at J Cashmore, Newport in June 1964. These engines were an upgraded 44xx class, both these classes had the same dimensions and were a scaled down version of the standard 2-6-2T large prairie design, but the 45xx had 4’ 7½” driving wheels (slightly larger than the previous class) and this coupled with the light weight gave them excellent acceleration and a top speed of 60 mph. The power group / route colour classification was C yellow and they became the ideal engines for hilly branch line services and many were deployed to Cornwall and Wales. The 45xx class eventually numbered 175 with the first engine constructed in 1906. The last 100 engines (which included No 5544) were all built between 1927 and 1929. These were known as the 4575 class because they had larger side tanks (1,300 gallons) with distinctive sloping front ends to improve driver visibility. The larger tanks extended their range, but added to their overall weight (now 61 tons) and most of the 4575 class were deployed on branch line services in the Bristol and Worcester Divisions, with a few allocated to Wolverhampton Division.