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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

Birmingham Snow Hill Station: gwrbsh1785

Great Western Railway 0-6-0 ‘Dean Goods’ or 2301 class No 2550 on the down through main line while acting as station pilot in February 1939

Great Western Railway 0-6-0 ‘Dean Goods’ or 2301 class No 2550 on the down through main line while acting as station pilot in February 1939. The single lamp on the right of the buffer beam indicates a class 'K' train (denoting either an Ordinary freight train or a Pilot trip). No 2550 was built in September 1897 at Swindon Works under lot 108. This light goods class eventually consisted of 260 locomotives built between 1883 and 1899 and with a maximum axle weight of only thirteen tons they could operate on any line (route colour – uncoloured). No 2550 was built with domed parallel boiler (type S4) which was operated at a boiler pressure of 140 lb generating a tractive effort at 85% of 13,313 lbs. In November 1912, an early type superheater (8 tube / 48 element) arrangement in a domed parallel boiler with a belpaire firebox (type B4) was fitted. The boiler pressure was increased to 180 lbs giving a tractive effort at 85% of 18,138 lbs and this locomotive was classified in power group A. Automatic Train Control (ATC) was fitted between June 1930 and August 1931 and the contact stud of the apparatus can be seen under the front buffer beam in the photograph. In 1934 it is known that locomotive No 2550 was paired with Churchward 2,500 gallon tender No 1430, which was built in early 1903 under lot A44 and is probably the tender in the photograph.

These locomotives operated all over the Great Western Railway system, especially where there were civil limitations on the permanent way dictated the use of uncoloured group locomotives. The largest numbers were allocated to Central Wales, Wolverhampton, Worcester and Bristol Divisions. No 2550 is known to have been allocated to Tyseley shed (TYS) in January 1921 and at Stafford Road shed (SRD) in Wolverhampton in both May 1922 and January 1934. In January 1938, No 2550 was known to have been allocated to Banbury shed (BAN). No 2550 was one of a hundred 'Dean Goods' locomotives taken over by War Department at the start of the second World War. No 2550 was modified at Swindon Works in late 1939, before being sent to France as WD No 153. The modifications included; removal of ATC equipment and brass number plates, fitting of Westinghouse brakegear and a direct acting steambrake valve, plus the overall painting in black livery. With the withdrawal of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in June 1940, all seventy-nine of these locomotives, which had been shipped to France were either destroyed, or abandoned and several were subsequently used on the French railways. As a result of this loss, they were written off and officially sold to the War Department in October 1940. No 153 is known to worked on the former 'Chemin de Fer du Nord' in German occupied France and at the end of the war was one of the locomotives recovered. In 1946-47, the best twenty two of the recovered 'Dean Goods' locomotives, including No 153, were shipped from Antwerp to China in connection with United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Aid (UNRRA) activities and their eventual fate is unknown.

Robert Ferris