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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

GWR Route: North Warwickshire Line

oor Street Station: gwrms2614

British Railways 2-6-2T 5101 class large prairie No 4171 leaves Snow Hill tunnel on the up main line descending past Moor Street Station on the left

British Railways 2-6-2T 5101 class large prairie No 4171 leaves Snow Hill tunnel on the up main line descending past Moor Street Station on the left with a class B headcode (single lamp in front of chimney) indicating an ordinary passenger train. The lowered home and distant signals indicate the next two block sections on the up main line from here to Bordesley are clear. From the number of carriages this is believed to be a rush hour local to Leamington Spa.

No 4171 was built in October 1949 at Swindon Works as part of a lot 369. This was the last lot of twenty prairie locomotives, which were all delivered to British Railways. The prototype No 99 (renumbered 3100 in 1912 and 5100 in 1929) had been design by George Churchward and built in 1903. The antecedents of the class were intended to work heavy goods or passenger trains not required to run at high speeds and over half were allocated to South Wales Sheds where they were used mainly on goods traffic. Duties evolved over the years as the locomotives became favoured firstly for banking duties and then, with the introduction of the 5101 class variation in December 1929, the locomotives became the main stay of the West Midlands suburban passenger traffic, with three quarters of the class stationed there. Being able to operate in either direction, achieve a good turn of speed and having excellent acceleration with heavy loads, made them ideal for suburban passenger services with their frequent stopping and starting, and reversals at locations without turntables. The 5101 class had a standard No3 superheated long coned boiler operating at 200 lbs, which produced a tractive effort at 85% of 24,300lb (Power group – D). The maximum axle weight was 17tons, 12cwt, which allowed the locomotives to operate on all main lines and some branch lines (Route colour – Blue). An explanation of the Great Western Railway’s classification system can be found on the Engine Map page misc/misc_equip195.htm. The side tanks with their sloping front could hold 2,000 gallons. No 4171 was initially allocated to Leamington Shed (84D), but was later allocated at Tyseley Shed (84E) for a period. With Diesel Multiple Units taking over the suburban passenger duties, No 4171 was withdrawn from Leamington Shed in October 1964 after just 15 years of service.

Behind the locomotive, the corridor side of a third class brake coach can be seen. The deep picture windows providing a good view from the four compartments, while the windows in the luggage van, guard’s compartment and vestibule doors all finish at a higher level. This is typical of the Great Western Railway’s diagram D121 brake third, of which fifty-six coaches were completed in May 1936 (lot 1555). These coaches were sixty feet, eleven and a quarter inches long by nine feet wide. The running numbers were 4066 to 4069, 4073 to 4102 and 4104 to 4125. They were built to cater for the increasing holiday traffic, being provided with large luggage vans to hold the anticipated holiday maker’s baggage. With the start of dieselisation, many suburban non-corridor coaches had been scrapped in the early 1960’s, but with steam locomotives lasting longer than anticipated, main line carriages had to be employed on suburban services. The D121 coaches were eventually condemned in December 1963.

The second coach is also a main line carriage. It appears to be a Great Western Railway diagram C77 third class corridor coach with the compartment side visible. These third class coaches were the same length as the D121 coaches, but were an inch narrower. They had eight compartments and a lavatory at each end (note the roof tank covers). Two lots were built as follows:

Lot No. Date built Quantity Running Numbers
1593 October 1938 70 1080 to 1089, 1091, 1093 to 1098, 1100 to 1116, 1118 to 1128, 1130 to 1134 and 1136 to 1155.
1623 May 1940 95 501 to 595

Robert Ferris