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LMS Route: Rugby to Tamworth

Tamworth Station: lnwr_tam1243

LNWR 4-4-0 Benbow class No 1956 'Illustrious'  is seen on a down through goods train with cattle trucks immediately behind the tender

LNWR 4-4-0 Benbow class No 1956 'Illustrious' is seen on a down through goods train with cattle trucks immediately behind the tender circa 1922. When carrying livestock on unfitted goods trains it was standard practice to place them behind the tender to reduce the impact of the wagons jolting the animals when starting and stopping. Philip Millard writes "Built at Crewe in February 1902 No 1956 remained in service until January 1923 when it was scrapped at Crewe works. 'Illustrious' was named after a Majestic-class pre-Dreadnought battleship (the third warship to carry that name) launched in 1896 and scrapped in 1920.

Ted Talbot writes, 'Although the class was originally known as the Alfred the Great class, they were all soon modified with separate valve gear for the outside cylinders, as seen here, and with the long splasher above it. The first to be so modified was No 1952 Benbow on 22nd September 1903, and for that reason the modified engines were generally known as ‘Benbows’. The head lamp code, ‘one on the right’, is that adopted in May 1919, replacing ‘three on the bufferbeam’, and denotes a ‘through goods’. In later years the three cattle wagons would have been vacuum-fitted but the entry in ‘LNWR Wagons Volume One’ makes this unlikely, though perhaps a wagon specialist will comment'.

Peter Ellis writes, 'In the above photograph of the three cattle wagons immediately behind the engine are not LNWR vehicles nor are the Midland. I cannot positively identify them from my current reference sources, but could they be Caledonian? As regards the date of the photograph the use of lime wash to disinfect the vehicles is certainly consistent with the suggested 1901-2'. Harry Jack adds, 'The cattle wagons behind Illustrious are similar to those visible in several photos taken in Scotland - on the G&SWR near Carlisle c1920, at Inverkeithing in early LNER days, and at Kyle of Lochalsh (ex-HR) in 1952. They don't seem to be Highland or NBR types, so I think there's a good chance they are from the Caledonian'.

Several years after the above was written Steve Banks wrote, 'The cattle trucks are GER, a common sight all over the UK. This class of train did not require automatic brakes. I cannot tell if the cattle trucks were fitted with Automatic Vacuum Brakes or not but manually braked trucks were increasingly fitted with a through pipe. Position when loaded was normally at the head of the train, but empties were often placed there as well so unless cattle can be seen, it’s not possible to tell which is the case'.