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BR Period Locomotives: lnwrbns_br334

British Railways Standard Class 7 4-6-2 No 70033 'Charles Dickens' is seen wreathed in steam at the East end of Platform 4 on an up express service

British Railways Standard Class 7 4-6-2 No 70033 'Charles Dickens' is seen wreathed in steam at the East end of Platform 4 on an up express service. Derek Dean writes, 'I visited Birmingham New Street two or three times each week in the 1958 to 1963 period. I am researching No 70033 'Charles Dickens' this week and can advise you that the above image is post-February 1961 as the speedometer was fitted during September 1960, but the 'lightening flash' power warning plates were not applied until after the engine was transferred to Willesden depot (1A). It was rare for any express to appear on platform 4, and the headcode indicates ECS train, unless, of course, they are about to be changed.'

Built by Crewe works in December 1952 No 70033 was to remain service until July 1967 when it was withdrawn from Kingmoor shed in Carlisle to be scrapped one year later in June 1968 by GH Campbell of Airdrie. Designed by Robert Riddles for use by British Railways for mixed traffic duties some fifty-five were constructed between 1951 and 1954. The design evolved as a result of the 1948 locomotive exchanges undertaken in advance of further locomotive classes being constructed by the then new British Railways Board.

The Britannia Class was based on several previous locomotive designs, incorporating the best practices in locomotive technology as regards labour-saving and lower maintenance costs as well as various weight-saving measures too increase route availability of a Pacific-type locomotive. The class was well liked by crews in most regions of British Railways, with especially glowing reports from those operating them from Stratford depot on the Eastern Region, where its lower weight and high power transformed motive power over the restricted East Anglian lines. However, negative feedback was received from some operating departments, most notably on the Western Region primarily out of preference for GWR-designed locomotive stock. For this reason Old Oak Common and Plymouth Laira depots declared that the class was surplus to requirements.

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