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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Olton Station: gwro2490

'Express Train in Danger' was the title of this photograph, in the Birmingham Post on 3rd February 1930

'Express Train in Danger’ was the tittle of this photograph, which appeared in the Birmingham Post on 3rd February 1930 with the following caption: 'One of the main driving wheels of a GWR engine attached to the Dover – Birkenhead express came off when the train was passing through Olton and a serious accident was averted only by the driver's presence of mind. The wheel crashed into the embankment, where it is seen lying in this photograph.'

The driving wheel had come from Great Western Railway 4-6-0 29xx (Saint) class No 2933 ‘Bibury Court’ following the shearing of an axle shaft. On Saturday 1st February 1930 the locomotive had taken over the Dover to Birkenhead express from a Southern Railway locomotive at Reading. No 2933 had been built at Swindon Works in November 1911 and had been initially allocated to Stafford Road Shed (SRD) near Wolverhampton. At the time of the incident No 2933 was allocated to Chester Shed (CHR). After the incident Tyseley fitters removed the coupling rod from left hand driving wheels and made the locomotive safe before towing it to the repair shop at Stafford Road Depot. Full repairs were eventually carried out at Swindon Works at a recorded cost of £890 (approximately half of this sum being attributed to wheel repairs). The locomotive remained in service until January 1953, when it was withdrawn from Leamington Shed (84D).

The article from the Birmingham Post has been transcribed here:


A Wheel Breaks away from the Engine Train
Travelling at High Speed
Driver able to pull up quickly

A remarkable mishap occurred to the engine of the Dover to Birkenhead express on Saturday afternoon when it was approaching Birmingham, where it was due to arrive at Snow Hill Station at 3:10.

The express was travelling at high speed between Solihull and Olton when one of the driving wheels of the engine came off and rolled on to the bank at the side of the line. The driver quickly realised that something was amiss and, acting with great promptitude, applied the brakes and brought the train to a standstill in a short distance, thus averting what might have been a disaster. It was not until he got down from the footplate that the driver discovered what had happened. The leading near side driving wheel, one of six on the engine, had disappeared and the connecting rod was twisted. The wheel was eventually found some distance away on the embankment.

The express was full of passengers at the time, but they realised little of what had happened until some time later.

Express Delayed about an Hour

The mishap locked the down main line traffic for some time. The express was held up for about an hour. The train being eventually hauled back to Solihull by another engine and thence to Birmingham. Here an express engine took it on its way.

Single line working was adopted while a breakdown gang attended to the disabled engine, a work that lasted some time. Apart from the initial delay, the services were not greatly interfered with.

Robert Ferris