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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Hatton Bank: gwrhb2351

GWR 2-4-2T 36xx Class No 3624 is seen on a four coach Birmingham to Leamington passenger service

GWR 2-4-2T 36xx Class No 3624 is seen on a four coach Birmingham to Leamington passenger service.

The 36xx Class was a class designed by William Dean and built at Swindon in three lots in 1900-1903:

· No 3600 to Lot 130 built in 1900
· No 3601 to No 3620 to Lot 134 and built in 1902
· No 3621 to No 3630 to Lot 143 and built in 1903

William Dean had built an experimental 2-4-2T numbered 11 which was so successful that it led to the cancellation of another batch of 2-4-0 'Metro' Tanks and the construction of the 36xx Class in their place. The prototype, No 11, was built with a shortened version of the 'Bulldog' parallel boiler. Steam operated reversing gear and water pick-up gear was used enabling water to be picked up in either direction, however while the engine was picking up water at Rowington, it did so with such a force as to split the side tanks open. Larger vents were fitted to the side tanks and bunker tank to alleviate this problem. One advantage of the design was the ability for fast running in reverse as well as forwards because large rear windows were fitted to the cab. However it was soon found the these windows were susceptible to breakage when the bunker was being filled and so smaller windows with vertical bars were fitted.

The new 2-4-2Ts had 5 foot 2 inch coupled wheels and 17 inch x 24 inch cylinders. The second batch were slightly longer than the prototype, resulting in a greater tank capacity whilst the third batch, delivered when George Churchward had became CME, were slightly larger again, and were fitted tapered boilers. The class were given the nickname 'Birdcage' due to their (for the GWR) unusually spacious cabs. The 36xx class were fitted as standard with steam reversing gear, steam brakes, and two steam-operated water pick-ups for forward and reverse working. This reflects their intended work as fast suburban engines. About half were employed on such duties in the Birmingham area. The rest worked in the London area, though later a few worked Chester-Birkenhead trains, and some were allocated to South Wales sheds. They were essentially passenger train locomotives, and were eventually superseded by Collett's 2-6-2Ts. All were withdrawn in between 1930 and 1934.

Photographer Henry L Salmon