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GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton

Rowington Junction & Troughs: gwrrj1774

Great Western Railway 60xx (King) class 4-6-0 No 6000 ‘King George V’ scoops up water from the troughs

Great Western Railway 60xx (King) class 4-6-0 No 6000 ‘King George V’ scoops up water from the troughs at the head of an up express from Snow Hill to Paddington. Behind the locomotive, the first two vehicles are different examples of siphon wagons. These ventilated vans were originally designed for the bulk carriage of milk in churns, but following the introduction of milk tank wagons, these siphons were used for a range of other duties, including the transportation of; perishable fruit and vegetable traffic, parcels and newspaper traffic and racing pigeons in their baskets. The first van appears to be an early six wheeled, 27 foot 6 inch long, outside framed, horizontally slatted, siphon C with a low roof (6 foot 8 inches), while the second is a later, bogie wheeled, fifty foot long, siphon G, which had a three centre roof profile and high level shallow louvres.

Locomotive No 6000 was built in June 1927 at Swindon Works as the first of lot 243. This was the first locomotive of a class of ‘Super Castles’, built to the limits of the loading gauge. The locomotive was the most powerful passenger locomotive in the country when built, with a tractive effort at 85% of 40,300 lb. The locomotives' large boiler resulted in a maximum axle weight of 22 tons, 10 cwt and the ‘King’ class locomotives were restricted to the Paddington to Plymouth and Paddington to Birmingham / Wolverhampton main lines and even this required many bridges to be strengthened (see bridge tests on new quadrupled lines at 'gwrwm1592' and 'gwro1578'). The brass bell at the front of No 6000 was a souvenir from the locomotive's visit in September and October 1927 to the USA for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad centenary celebrations.

No 6000 was eventually withdrawn from Old Oak Common Shed in December 1962 after completing 1,910,424 miles and was initially leased to HP Bulmers Ltd being preserved at their site in Hereford. It became the very first steam engine to break the mainline steam ban in 1971 and its restoration to mainline operation is credited with the return of mainline steam in the UK. Unfortunately the British Railways’ loading gauge was subsequently reduced by deeper ballast specifications requiring the locomotive cab, safety valve and chimney height to be reduced by four inches if clearance was to be maintained for mainline operation. It was decided to keep No 6000 in its original condition and the locomotive became a static display initially at Swindon's Steam Railway Museum, before being transferred to the National Railway Museum at York in 2008.

Robert Ferris