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New Street station

Birmingham New Street Station: lnwrbns_br4313

Ex-LMS 2-6-0 'Horwich Crab' No 42923 is seen leaving New Street station on a northbound service circa 1958

Ex-LMS 2-6-0 'Horwich Crab' No 42923 is seen leaving New Street station on a northbound service circa 1958. Built as LMS No 13223 by Crewe works in November 1930, it was renumbered by the LMS as 2923 in May 1930 and again by British Railways in January 1950 which it retained until January 1964 when it was withdrawn from service. Designed by George Hughes, the first Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LMS, the class were built at both the ex-L&YR works at Horwich and the ex-LNWR works at Crewe. However Hughes was to retire prior them being put into service which was undertaken by his successor, Henry Fowler. The design incorporated a number of advanced features for the time such as long travel valves, compensated brake gear, a new design of tender and a new boiler, the latter based on the one fitted to Hughes' four-cylinder 4-6-4T 'Baltic' tank design built at Horwich.

Fowler tried to have the design altered to use standard Derby components. However the design process and pre-production were sufficiently advanced to prevent the fitting of a smaller Derby pattern boiler, and the cylinders and motion also remained as designed by Hughes and consequently the class were a great success. However the tender was replaced by a Derby 3500 gallon standard type, which was narrower than the cab, a fact very noticeable when looking from the rear of the locomotive. Standard Midland Railway boiler fittings and brake equipment were also substituted, and the class became something of a hybrid design. Nevertheless they performed rather well in most circumstances and gained a strong reputation in some areas, especially in Scotland, where they became the preferred locomotive for heavy unfitted mineral work on difficult routes, even after the introduction of the Stanier mixed traffic 4-6-0s.

This class of locomotives were referred to by train spotters as 'Crabs', although the term 'Horwich Mogul' was preferred by the LMS authorities, Mogul being the name to describe a 2-6-0 wheel configuration. The nickname 'Crab' is said to refer to the resemblance to a crab's pincers when the outside cylinders and valve motion are seen in action. Another suggestion is that the nickname refers to the 'scuttling' motion felt on the footplate when the engine is being worked hard, largely due to the inclined cylinders.

Photograph courtesy of John Turner