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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Olton Station: gwro1022

An unidentified GWR 4-4-0 Badminton class locomotive is seen at the head of an up express as it passes Olton station's redundant signal box

An unidentified Great Western Railway 4-4-0 41xx (ex-Badminton) class locomotive is seen at the head of an up express as it passes Olton station's first signal box. This signal box was made redundant when the quadrupled track at the Birmingham end of the station was remodelled into main and relief running lines in June 1913 and a new signal box was built to control this junction. This new signal box can be seen at the rear of the train. When the quadrupled track was extended south to Lapworth and Olton station rebuilt in 1933, this second signal box become superfluous.

In 1897 the Great Western Railway introduced the Badminton class express passenger 4-4-0 steam locomotives as a development from the earlier Duke class. The name Badminton having been chosen after the celebrated Hunt. Further modifications to the design resulted in the Atbara Class entering service in 1900, the names for these locomotives generally being taken from contemporary military engagements or senior army commanders. Later engines were named after cities of the British Empire and the final batch of 4-4-0 locomotives were named after varieties of garden plant and in consequence were known as the Flower Class.

At a time when boilers were undergoing rapid development each of the classes had several variants resulting in different power and weight characteristics and this was a nightmare for staff restoring locomotives. Fortunately by December 1912, the boiler types had been largely standardised and the locomotives were renumbered depending on their capabilities and irrespective of their origin. The ex-Badminton locomotives can be identified by their curved frames. They were built with a domed boiler and belpaire firebox, but several of the class had experimental boilers fitted before seventeen were fitted with a large standard No 4 boiler. Between 1911 and 1913 the whole class of twenty locomotives was fitted with the standard No 2 boiler and were at that point incorporated into the 41xx (Flower) class. This boiler was fully coned and domeless with a belpaire firebox. Topfeed apparatus integrated with the safety value was first fitted in 1911. None of these locomotives were fitted with Automatic Train Control (ATC) and they were all withdrawn between 1927 and 1931.