A REMARKABLE GALA
The Dean Forest Railway Flour Mill Steam Gala was held over the weekends of 2 and 3 and 9 and 10 July 2016. The Flour Mill is in fact an engine restoration workshop in nearby Bream, Gloucestershire, and its owner, Bill Parker, wanted to celebrate its 20th anniversary. To do this, three locomotives that had been refurbished at the Flour Mill worked an intensive service on the Dean Forest Railway. VIP visitors to the event included Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper, Sir William McAlpine and Heritage Railway Magazine editor Robin Jones. The Dean Forest Railway gained much needed extra revenue from this event in terms of ticket sales, shop and cafe income and photographic charter trains. In addition, Bill Parker arranged for the three visiting locomotives to be used without hire fees.
LSWR BEATTIE 0298 CLASS 2-4-0WT 30587 ( 298, 0298 AND 3298)
In 1850 the London & South Western Railway decided that its London suburban passenger services should be operated using small tank locomotives. To determine the most suitable type, Joseph Hamilton Beattie, the LSWR Chief Mechanical Engineer since 1850, prepared a series of designs for six wheeled well tank locomotives, each of which incorporated one or more differences from from the previous class. A small quantity of each was produced. Between 1852 and 1859, 26 locomotives were built to six different designs. These were the Tartar and Sussex Class of 1852, the Chaplin and Minerva Classes of 1856, the Nelson Class of 1858 and the Nile Class of 1859. The wheel arrangement was either 2-2-2WT or 2-4-0WT with driving wheels varying in diameter from 5 feet (1524mm) to 6 feet (1829mm). Cylinder bore varied from 14″ to 15 1/2″ (356 and 394mm) while stroke was either 20 or 21 inches (508 or 533mm).
Having chosen the most suitable characteristics, Beattie then prepared a standard design of 2-4-0 well tank with 5′ 6″ (1676 mm) driving wheels and cylinders 15″ by 20″ (381 by 508 mm), bore by stroke; and the LSWR began to take delivery of these in 1863. The new design eventually totalled 85 locomotives; most came from the Manchester firm of Beyer Peacock and Company between 1863 and 1875, but three were built in the LSWR workshops at Nine Elms during 1872. The numbers applied to the new 2-4-0WT class were 33, 34, 36, 44, 76, 177–220, 243–270, 298, 299, 314 and 325–329. The locomotives delivered in February 1863 were the first locomotives on the LSWR not to be given names. Five of the later locomotives were named: 33 “Phœnix”; 34 “Osprey”; 36 “Comet”; 44 “Pluto” and 76 “Firefly”. These names were generally taken from older locomotives which had carried the same numbers.
Well tank locomotives have their water tanks set below footplate level, usually between the frames, to give a low centre of gravity and by extension sure-footedness in rush hour stop-start traffic. Slip resistant acceleration was also ensured by the firebox being over the back powered axle. On J.H. Beattie’s six experimental classes of well tank there were in fact two water tanks between the frames, one above the leading axle, the other beneath the cab. The location of the water supply between the wheels inevitably limited the tank capacity and range of these engines compared to later side, saddle or pannier tank machines but this was not a problem as they only ran short distances. The fitting of a well tank also determined the twin outside cylinder arrangement of the class and although the slide valves and their Stephenson motion were still between the wheels this marked a shift away from the conventions of the time. When Victoria was Queen it was more usual for the mechanical parts of locomotives – like piano legs – to be kept well out of sight. However, this made them harder to maintain. In contrast, the British Standard engines of the 1950s all had outside valve gear as skilled labour was no longer plentiful and cheap.
Although built to a standard design, there were periodic changes to the Beyer Peacock and Nine Elms built class of 85. The cylinder bore was was enlarged to 15 1/2″ (390mm) from locomotive 189 and again to 16 1/2″ (420mm) for the three Nine Elms engines which were originally numbered 94, 95 and 96. The final twelve locomotives – numbered 201-202, 34, 298-299, 314,44 and 325-329 and outshopped from Beyer Peacock between May 1874 and November 1875 had cylinders measuring 15 1/2″ x 22″ (390 x 560mm) The three Nine Elms locomotives, and the last six of 1875, exhibited more obvious detail differences compared to the other 76. The leading wheels were 3′ 7 3⁄4 ” (1111 mm) diameter instead of 3′ 6″ (1070 mm); two of the four safety valves were larger; but the most noticeable difference was that the splashers were rectangular instead of round. These resembled side tanks, but carried no water—this feature was introduced by J.H. Beattie’s son and successor, William George Beattie,who had taken office on 23 November 1871 after his father’s death on 18 October 1871. The 85 2-4-0WTs handled heavy loads with ease and were fast runners.
From 1890, when newer locomotives became available for the London suburban services, the Beattie Well Tanks were sent further afield. Some of their new duties required a greater water capacity than the tanks could contain and so 31 examples were converted to tender engines between 1888 and 1899.
However, six – numbered 44, 257, 266, 298, 314 and 329 – were modernised between 1889 and 1894 for use on branch lines such as those to Exmouth and Sidmouth in Devon. Three of these, numbers 44, 257 and 266 ( the latter two having by then been renumbered 0257 and 0266) were also withdrawn between 1896 and 1898.
This left three 2-4-0WTs numbered 298, 314 and 329 to be transferred to the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway in 1895.The Bodmin and Wadebridge was one of the earliest railways in Cornwall and was isolated from the rest of the London & South Western Railway until 1895. However, 298, 314 and 329 proved ideal for the sharp curves of the B&WR’s freight branch to Wenford Bridge, which carried china clay traffic to the main line.
After having been rebuilt by W.G. Beattie’s successor William Adams from 1884 to 1892, a similar updating of boilers, frames and fittings occurred in 1921-2 under RW. Urie, the last Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London and South Western Railway. Under Southern Railway control there was further modification by R.E.L. Maunsell from 1931 to 1935.
The three Beattie well tanks continued until 1962 when they were replaced by former Great Western Railway Class 1366 0-6-0PTs, by which time they had been noted as “the oldest locomotive design on British Railways” although in 1958 the oldest individual locomotives were former London Brighton and South Coast Railway Class A1X 0-6-0Ts 32636 and 32670 which had been built in 1872. Similarly, renumbering on Nationalisation in 1948 had seen 298 become 30587, 314 become 30585 and 329 become 30586.
Of the three members of what the Southern Railway had dubbed Class 0298 which survived until 1962, 30587 has been preserved as part of the National Railway Museum collection and is now normally based on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway. Prior to this however, in 3298 guise, 30587 was stored at Preston Park near Brighton and then loaned as a static exhibit to the Dart Valley Railway at Buckfastleigh station museum. 30585 meanwhile is owned by the Quainton Railway Society and based at their Buckinghamshire Railway Centre after a period of storage in Luton.
The ex GWR Class 1366 0-6-0PTs were replaced by Class 03 and 08 diesels in 1964 on the former Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway line which itself was pruned from the National Network in 1983. William George Beattie continued as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London & South Western Railway until 1878 when he was succeeded by William Adams until 1895. Then came the epoch of Dugald Drummond from 1895 to 1912.
LSWR DRUMMOND T9 4-4-0 30120 ( 120)
Ex London & South Western Railway Drummond Class T9 4-4-0 30120 was easily the largest of the three visitors and the only tender engine taking part in the Dean Forest Railway Flour Mill Gala 2016. Introduced in 1899, sixty six T9 “Greyhounds” were eventually built for express passenger work between Waterloo, Salisbury and Exeter and saw several improvements throughout their service careers. Most notably, Dugald Drummond’s succesor as London and South Western Railway Chief Mechanical Engineer, R.W. Urie, fitted the entire class with superheating in the 1920s and Locomotive 119 was kept as the company’s official Royal Train engine. The class operated until 1961 when 30120 – as the last example – was withdrawn from Exmouth Junction shed. The former LSWR/SR Locomotive 120 officially remained in capital stock and in March 1962 was outshopped from Eastleigh Works in LSWR green livery after heavy casual repairs.
In this guise 30120 continued to work ordinary passenger trains as well as special workings and the enthusiasts tours continued into October 1963 despite 30120 leaving capital stock in July 1963. 30120 then joined the National Railway Museum collection and after lengthy periods in store at Fratton, Stratford, Preston Park, Tyseley and York it was again overhauled in the early 1980s on the Mid Hants Railway. After its return to steam in 1983 however, it was moved to the less demanding gradients of the Swanage Railway in 1991 and remained there until its boiler certificate expired in 1993. 30120 then became a static exhibit at the Bluebell Railway until 1 February 2008 when it moved to Cornwall’s Bodmin and Wenford Railway. Here 30120 underwent another heavy overhaul including repairs to the cylinder block at the Flour Mill in the Forest of Dean. In 2016 the 4-4-0 – now painted in early British Railways lined black livery – remains on long term loan to the Bodmin and Wenford Railway although it returned to Swanage from June to December 2015 and was a guest at the Mid Hants in February 2016.
METROPOLITAN RAILWAY CLARK E CLASS 0-4-4T NUMBER 1 (L44)
Like the London and South Western, the Metropolitan Railway was in the business of bringing commuters in and out of the Capital and used tank engines with rapid acceleration. A total of seven Class E 0-4-4Ts were built between 1896 and 1901, three by the company at their Neasden Works and four by Hawthorn Leslie and Company in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Six of the 0-4-4Ts, designed by Metropolitan Railway Locomotive Superintendent T.F. Clark, were numbered 77 to 82 while the locomotive we now know as Metropolitan Number 1 -built in 1898 -took its identity from Class A 4-4-0T Number 1 which had previously been scrapped after an accident. The E Class – which are believed to have been originally fitted with condensing apparatus – were displaced from the main passenger trains by the 4-4-4T H Class in 1920, moving to lesser jobs such as trains on the Chesham branch, goods trains and engineering duties.
Following the Second World War one E Class locomotive was regularly stationed at Rickmansworth station to cover a failure of London and North Eastern Railway locomotives working Metropolitan Line trains north of this point. The first E Class locomotive was scrapped in 1935 before it could be given a new London Transport number, something that only four locomotives would receive. No.1 became L44, while numbers. 77, 80 and 81 became L46–L48. L44 (No.1) had the honour of working the last steam-hauled LT passenger train in 1961, and survived in use until 1965. It is now preserved at the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre. In 2007 No. 1 made its first visit away from Buckinghamshire Railway Centre since the 2001 Heavy Overhaul, arriving at the Bluebell Railway on 24 July 2001 in order to take part in the “Bluebell 125” celebrations. While there it was paired with four original Metropolitan Railway carriages which have been restored by the Bluebell. During August 2008 it visited Barrow Hill and in October 2008 Llangollen, to participate in their heritage events. In 2010 an appeal was launched to fund the restoration of Number 1, and to fund its continued upkeep for the following ten years to enable it to participate at many more heritage events.
In 2013, for the 150th Anniversary of London Underground, No. 1 was loaned to the LT museum for several trips between Olympia and Moorgate via Edgware Road on successive weekends in January of that year to honour the actual anniversary of the first Underground journey from Bishop’s Road to Farringdon on 9 January 1863. The train was made up of Metropolitan Locomotive Number 1, Metropolitan Railway Milk Van number 4 and the Metropolitan Railway Jubilee Carriage 353 (the oldest surviving operational tube carriage dating from 1892), both the property of the London Transport Museum Heritage Fleet. Coupled to these were the set of four ‘Ashbury’ Coaches of 1898 (ex Chesham Shuttle coaches 387, 412, 394 and 368, on loan from the Bluebell Railway) and Metropolitan Electric Railway Locomotive Number 12 “Sarah Siddons”, also owned by the LT Museum. Several preservation bodies were involved in providing or restoring the rolling stock for the event and the operation was given added impetus by the enthusiastic support of the then London Mayor Boris Johnson and his commissioner of Transport for London, Sir Peter Hendy CBE, himself a transport enthusiast.
Incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1854 the Metropolitan Railway first edged away from central London under the Chairmanship of Sir Edward Watkin. Leaving the modern LT Circle Line at Baker Street via the Metropolitan and Saint John’s Wood Railway it had pushed through Neasden, Wembley, Harrow, Pinner, Northwood, Rickmansworth, Amersham, Aylesbury and Quainton Road to Verney Junction by 1894. The latter, situated on the London and North Western Railway’s route between Oxford and Bletchley, was 50 miles from the Capital and so unlike the deep tube City and South London route. The Metropolitan operated like a miniature main line railway, complete with freight, parcels, express passenger and even Pullman services. Indeed, from 1887 the Metropolitan Surplus Land Committee developed housing estates near Pinner and Northwood stations, shops at Rickmansworth and Neasden and in 1915 coined the name “Metro-Land” with the slogan “London’s Nearest Countryside”. Fourth rail electrification reached Harrow in 1908 and Rickmansworth by 1925 although steam remained dominant on the northern part of the line until the 1970s – albeit latterly in the form of works trains. Passenger services had been cut back to Amersham in 1961 by London Transport, which had taken over the Metropolitan Railway in 1933. The part of the Metropolitan Railway most remote from Baker Street was the branch line from Quainton Road to Brill, up to 1948 the haunt of the company’s locomotive 23, a 4-4-0T built by Beyer Peacock in 1866. This was withdrawn as London Transport’s L45 but has since been restored to 1903 condition, complete with condensing apparatus, and is currently displayed at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.
GWR COLLETT 2-6-2T 5541
The Dean Forest Railway’s own Great Western Small Prairie 5541 was in fact the youngest of the four steam locomotives in the Flour Mill Steam Gala 2016, having been outshopped from Swindon works in 1928. 5541 was allocated new to Swindon shed in August 1928 although it later moved to Bristol Bath Road and from 1938 to 1960 Machynlleth, Central Wales, was its home. From there it often worked the Pwllheli portion of the Cambrian Coast Express. The last two years of work for 5541 before withdrawal in July 1962 were spent as a Plymouth Laira engine on the Launceston branch in Cornwall. After spending ten years in Dai Woodham’s Barry Scrapyard, 5541 was rescued by the Dean Forest Railway. First steamed as a preserved locomotive in 1976, the Small Prairie was in use on the DFR from 1978 to 1986. During that time, 5541 was driven by Britain’s only all-female steam locomotive crew and appeared on television with Cilla Black and Max Boyce. After a second operational tour in the 1990s, 5541 only returned to action after an eleven year break in April 2015. Restoration and the renewal of its boiler certificate may have cost in excess of £120 000 but 5541 is arguably in its best ever running condition.
With its high power to weight ratio, George Jackson Churchward’s Small Prairie design has been described as the ideal branch line locomotive and clearly inspired later LMS and British Standard 2-6-2Ts. The prototype, 115, was built at Swindon in 1904 with driving wheels of 4′ 1½”, a smaller boiler than the Large Prairie and smaller cylinders measuring 17″ x 24″. Such was the immediate success of 115 that less than a year after its introduction, a further ten locomotives were ordered on a Swindon lot number but actually built at Wolverhampton. The class became numbers 3101 – 3110 for a short time until renumbered 4401 – 4410 with the prototype renumbered 4400.The 4400 Class were modified in service with higher capacity lipped coal bunkers and also superheated boilers from 1913. They were popular due to their lively acceleration, although such small wheels – while delivering 21 440lb of tractive effort – limited their top speed. Despite this, the 4400 Class remained intact in 1948 and the last example was not withdrawn until September 1955. Combining the best features of the 4400 Class – including 1 000 gallon capacity side tanks -with larger 4′ 7½” driving wheels was the 60 mph capable 4500 Class of 1906, which remained in the wide ranging “Yellow” GWR route availability band despite an increase in weight from 56 tons 13 cwt to 57 tons. Locomotives 2161-2180 ( renumbered 4500-4519 in December 1912) became the last GWR locomotives to be built at Wolverhampton and the next batch, 2181-2190 ( renumbered 4520 – 4529 in December 1912 ) were built at Swindon with a boiler pressure increased from 180 to 200 pounds per square inch, raising the tractive effort from 19 120 lb to 21 250 lb.
From 4530, Class 4500 locomotives also had curved rather than square fronted framing. 4540-4554 of 1914-1915 were the first Class 4500 2-6-2Ts to be fitted with superheat from new while 4555 built in 1924 was the first of the Class to be fitted with outside steam pipes as standard, improved superheaters and 3 ton 14 cwt coal bunkers. While 4555 to 4574 – built to Lot 226 in 1924 – were the last of the Churchward Small Prairies, Charles Baker Collett’s 4575 Class of 1926 were distinguished by their larger 1 300 gallon side tanks which, like the Large Prairie Classes, had sloping tops to aid the driver’s forward vision. One hundred examples of Class 4575 were built up to 1929 and allocated the numbers 4575-99 and 5500-74. Both 4500 and 4575 Class Small Prairies worked all over the Great Western Railway and British Railways Western Region including empty coaching stock trains in and out of Paddington and hauling freight on the Brentford branch. Withdrawals began in 1950 with 4531 but 5508, 5531, 5564 and 5569 survived until 1964.
MY FLOUR MILL STEAM GALA EXPERIENCE
On Sunday 3 July 2016 I had a look at some of the locomotives involved in the Dean Forest Railway Flour Mill Steam Gala 2016 on shed at Norchard before ex LSWR T9 4-4-0 30120 hauled me aboard Carriage set A south to Lydney Junction. At Lydney Junction 30120 ran round its train and departed for Norchard at 1000 while I waited to return there behind Met Tank 1 at 1010. Having arrived back at Norchard somewhat later than the advertised 1025 due to brake issues on the Metropolitan tank’s coach set B I still had time to eat a meal in the splendid new cafe, visit the Museum and take some pictures of Met 1 and 30587 before 30120 returned from the south to form the Noon service to Parkend. Setting off just beforehand to meet the train at Parkend was Chepstow Classic Coaches Bristol VRT BJG 671V – the pineapple yellow double decker being used to shuttle passengers from Parkend to The Flour Mill locomotive workshop at Bream. Visiting The Flour Mill at Bream by double decker bus was a rare opportunity to see locomotives under restoration as well as some of the remarkable machine tools involved. The facility itself is buried in a wooded valley accessible only along an alarmingly tilted sloping track – but having asked the volunteer guides about getting locomotives on low loaders down this the reply was that getting on to the A48 at Lydney was far more problematic!
Also on show at The Flour Mill was some road steam, both on 12″ to the foot and on some smaller scales. The latter were courtesy of the Model Steam Road Vehicle Society and thanks must also go to Mary Pockett and the other volunteers for serving tea and cake – most appreciated. Having returned by bus to Parkend from Bream I caught the 1420 to Norchard, hauled by both T9 30120 and GWR Prairie 5541. Allowing this train to move forward to Lydney Junction I then joined the freight train for the brake van ride south behind Beattie Well Tank 30587. While there, Metropolitan 1 also arrived but after this 30587 ran round its train and proceeded north through Norchard High Level Platform to Parkend. Standing on the verandah of the Queen Mary bogie brake van allowed a view of the line ahead through both the rear and front windows of the 2-4-0WT’s cab. Arriving at Parkend, the Dean Forest Railway freight hauled by Beattie Well Tank 30587 again caught up with GWR 2-6-2T 5541 which was top and tailing with 30120. This allowed the passenger train to run south again, allowing 30587 to run round its freight, take on water and then couple on to the Shark brake van. Fitted with ballast ploughs for both flat bottomed and bullhead rail, the four wheeled Shark- developed from a Midland Railway brake van design was to be my movie camera platform for the journey south to Norchard High Level