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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Hatton Station: gwrhj2260

Ex-GWR 0-6-2T 56xx class No 6624 north of Hatton Junction with a cement train from the Harbury Cement works located at Greaves sidings on 9th May 1953

Ex-Great Western Railway 0-6-2T 56xx class No 6624 north of Hatton Junction with a cement train from the Harbury Cement works located at Greaves sidings (eight miles south of Leamington) on 9th May 1953. Warwick was allocated two banking engines with one also being employed for light freight duties when the need arose. On the Up line is ex-Great Western Railway 4-6-0 4073 (Castle) class No 5031 'Totnes Castle' with a Birmingham to Paddington express.

Locomotive No 6624 was built at Swindon Works in January 1928 as part of lot 244. This class was originally built to replace obsolete locomotives with the same wheel arrangement from the absorbed South Wales constituent companies following the grouping . Here they became the main stay of the coal trade traffic from the mines to the docks, their power and adhesion allowing them to perform well with heavy loads on the steeply gradiented Welsh valley lines. They normal operated bunker-first when coming down hill, which allowed the bogie to provide greater stability to the locomotive. The locomotives also had a good turn of speed and acceleration, allowing them to operate the heavier passenger schedules and excursions. The boiler pressure was 200 lb and the tractive effort at 85% was 25,800 lb, placing them in power group D. The maximum axle weight was 18 tons, 17 cwt, which restricted them to main lines and a few branch lines (route colour – Red). Following the reduction in coal traffic in the 1930s a number were reallocated to other areas for local freight and banking duties. No 6624 was initially allocated to Radyr shed (RYR) in Cardiff. In January 1934, the locomotive was known to have been allocated to Chester shed (CHR) and was there January 1938, as well as prior to nationalisation in December 1947 and in August 1950. Chester shed was transferred to the LM region in February 1958 and in 1959 No 6624 was known to be back in South Wales allocated to Radyr shed (88A), from where the locomotive was withdrawn in June 1964.

The metal bodied cement vans seen here were similar to the Great Western Railway’s ‘Iron Minks’, which were introduced at the turn of the century. These two belonged to Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers (ACPM), who introduced the brand name ‘Blue Circle’ cement in the 1920s. ACPM were the largest cement manufacturer in Britain acquiring the Harbury Cement Works at Greaves Siding in 1932, when the previous owners (Red Triangle Group) went bankrupt (see Harbury Cement). The brand name ‘Ferrocrete’ was used for their fast setting structural cement products. Powdered cement must be kept dry to prevent it hardening prematurely and Railway companies reflected this risk in their rates by applying a premium. The exceptional rates for carrying packed sacks of Portland Cement (minimum quantity of 4 tons) from Harbury Cement works in 1935 were:
- At Owners Risk (OR) or in Owners Wagon (OW) - 4 shillings, 9 pence per mile
- In Company Wagon (CW) - 5 shillings, 5 pence per mile

Early methods of transportation included shipment in sealed wooden casks, but with the introduction of easier to handle one hundredweight sacks, ACPM distributed these in their own fleet of covered vans, which provided good protection from inclement weather.

Locomotive No 5031 was built at Swindon Works in May 1934 as part of lot 295. This locomotive was withdrawn in October 1963 having completed 1,434,409 miles and disposed of by Cohens, Morriston, Swansea.

Robert Ferris