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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Hatton Bank: gwrhb2963

Great Western Railway 2-8-0 28xx class No 2832 ascends Hatton Bank with a class H through freight

Great Western Railway 2-8-0 28xx class No 2832 ascends Hatton Bank with a class H through freight (see 'Headcodes') on the Down Main Line in the Spring of 1940.

No 2832 was built in April 1911 at Swindon Works as part of lot 181. The first 28xx class locomotive (No 97) had been built in 1903 and by the time No 2832 was built the design had undergone several modifications including; curved front drop ends, top feed, a superheated long cone boiler operating at 225 lbs pressure and larger diameter cylinders (18.5inch). The outside steam pipes were fitted in June 1937. The 28xx class delivered a tractive effort at 85% of 35,380 (power class – E) and the maximum axle weight was 17 tons (route group – Blue), which limited the locomotives to main lines and some branch lines. See Engine Map for details of the Great Western Railway’s locomotive classification scheme. The locomotives were designed to haul heavy coal trains from the South Wales coalfields to London and like most of the class, No 2832 was predominately allocated to sheds along this route. Initially No 2832 was allocated to Severn Tunnel Junction Shed (STJ) and then during the 1930s Aberdare Shed (ABDR). During WW2 their duties gradually extended to other heavy freight turns.

In October 1945 the Great Western Railway converted a 28xx class locomotive (No 2872) to oil burning as an experiment because of the shortage of good coal. The experiment was to be carried out in conjunction with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. Ltd. to afford useful data for determining the extent to which economies could be effected by the use of oil instead of coal. By mid-1946 a total of ten 28xx locomotives (including No 2832 converted in May 1946) had been converted and the oil burning experiment was deemed a success. In the early months of 1947 national coal shortages become so severe that domestic coal was rationed and the lack of coal for power stations resulted in power cuts. The government authorised a programme to convert to oil burning 1,217 locomotives (including 172 from the Great Western Railway). All the Great Western Railway oil burning locomotives were given new numbers and in November 1946, No 2832 became No 4806. Seven oil refuelling depots were commissioned allowing operation between; the South West, Wales and London and during this period No 4806 was allocated to Llanelly Shed (LLY). Although the programme was technically a success, the cost of importing the oil was prohibitive and the logistics of supplying the oil to depots required unavailable capital expenditure, as a result the programme was officially abandoned in September 1947. No 4806 reverted back to coal burning and the original number (No 2832) was restored in April 1949. No 2832 was withdrawn from Severn Tunnel Junction Shed (86E) in November 1959.

Robert Ferris