Welcome to the Lickey Incline blog devoted to the celebration of the railway and in particular the great days of steam trains both standard and narrow gauge, on the railways of Britain.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bevy of five 0-6-0T bankers about to drop down the Lickey Incline back to Bromsgrove

Copyright Ben Brooksbank
View SW, towards Worcester, Gloucester and Bristol: ex-Midland Birmingham - Bristol main line. Note the commencement of the two miles of 1-in-37 incline. They are all Fowler 3F 0-6-0Ts:- Nos. 47425, 47303, 47313, 47301 and 47305: between them they had banked three trains up the Inline, not coupled to the train being assisted so dropping off as it passed through Blackwell station. Ben's favourite picture!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More photographs from Ben Brooksbank

Ben Brooksbank is a retired medical scientist and has been a keen photographer for over 64 years. He has taken photographs, primarily of scenery and railways, in Britain and abroad, in colour since 1953 (slides, prints since 1980), digital since 2003). A lifelong Railway Enthusiast, in recent years he has concentrated on Closed Stations...as well as Open ones. Ben has several thousand photographs in his library, including over 1,000 b/w of Railway stations/remains (and 3,000+ of locomotive and train scenes) taken 1946-66); also over 5,000 more recent colour photographs, mainly of Stations. But Ben's photography is not just devoted to railways, he has also taken scenery and other non-railway photographs the same 65 year period in comparable numbers. See more at Geograph

The LNER Garratt on the Lickey Incline below Blackwell

Copyright Ben Brooksbank
View NE just below the summit at Blackwell; ex-Midland Birmingham - Bristol main line. Up the famous Lickey Incline, two miles at 1-in-37 up from Bromsgrove, all except very light trains had to take on a banker at Bromsgrove. Normally either several 0-6-0T's or the special 0-10-0 'Big Bertha' was used, later a BR Standard 2-10-0 took over 'Big Bertha's role. However, in March 1949 with the electrification in the offing of the Worsborough Incline in South Yorkshire, Britain's largest locomotive, the unique 2-8-0+0-8-2 Garratt No. 2395 (BR No. 69999), was transferred to Bromsgrove and put to work on the Lickey for 18 months. For various reasons it was not a success - even after conversion to oil-burning. Here it is behind an Up freight in April 1949; the Sanatorium at Blackwell is seen in the distance.
Copyright Ben Brooksbank
A stranger to these parts, a GW 'Castle' on a Rail Tour prepares to tackle the Lickey Bank at Bromsgrove. View NE, towards Birmingham; ex-Midland Birmingham - Bristol main line. This was a Rail Tour in April 1955, sponsored by 'Trains Illustrated' (Ian Allan), Paddington - Bristol - Birmingham - Paddington, thus entailing an ascent of the three-mile at 1-in-37 infamous incline between Bromsgrove and Blackwell. The locomotive chosen was 'Castle' 4-6-0 No. 7017 'G.J. Churchward' with the 0-10-0 58100 'Big Bertha' as banker. Owing to restricted clearances the 'Castle' had to come off at Bournville and LMS Class 5 No. 44842 worked the train through to New Street, Birmingham handing over to another 'Castle' No. 7007 'Great Western' at Bordesley Junction. Note the ecstatic onlookers on the Down platform; as one of the participants on the Tour, Ben was surprised to be able to jump out and get this shot.

7017 'G.J. Churchward' was built in August 1948. First shed allocation - Old Oak Common. August 1950 - shed allocation Cardiff Canton. Last shed allocation - Old Oak Common. Withdrawn February 1963. Scrapped at A. King & Son, Norwich.

7007 Great Western was built as Ogmore Castle, July 1946. it was the last passenger express engine built at Swindon. First shed allocation Wolverhampton, Stafford Road. Renamed January 1948 as 'Great Western', the same name as the first locomotive built at Swindon. August 1950 and March 1959 shed allocations Worcester. Double chimney and 4 row superheater fitted March 1961. Last shed allocation Worcester. Withdrawn February 1963. Scrapped at Cashmore's, Great Bridge.
GW loco info per The Great Western Archive

To the Chocolate Factory!

Copyright Ben Brooksbank
Up Special to Cadbury's, Bournville on Lickey Bank. View southwards, towards Bromsgrove, Worcester, Gloucester and Bristol; ex-Midland main line from Birmingham, Derby etc. All ascending trains, with bankers, made a fine sight and sound. One might have thought BR should have provided a clean engine for this Special. It is Stanier Class 5 4-6-0 No. 44813 (built 1944, not withdrawn until 2/68.

Worcester - Birmingham stopping train ascending Lickey Bank

Copyright Ben Brooksbank
View southward, towards Bromsgrove, Worcester etc.: ex-Midland Birmingham - Bristol main line. Stanier Class 4-6-0 No. 45040 is struggling and blowing sand for adhesion, even with about six vehicles (14.22 from Worcester Shrub Hill) and a 2-10-0 as banker. No. 45040 is nearly 30 years old but lasted until 7/67. (See SO9871 : Train ascending Lickey Incline and several others).

Two WR '9400' 0-6-0 Panniers on the Lickey

Copyright Ben Brooksbank
Two WR '9400' 0-6-0 Panniers banking an Up express on the Lickey Incline. After the line was transferred to the Western Region in 1958, the ex-LMS 0-6-0T bankers were replaced by ex-GW ones. Here '9400' class Nos. 8401 and 8402 are in action. (It seems that a lady in the last coach noticed the photographer.

Riddles 9F hard at work

Copyright Ben Brooksbank
Heavy oil train ascending Lickey Bank. View SE, down the Lickey Bank (two miles at 1-in-37) towards Bromsgrove; ex-Midland Birmingham - Bristol main line. This was one of the heaviest trains worked up this formidable incline, a loaded oil train from Fawley, Hampshire to Bromford Bridge (Birmingham). Headed by BR Standard 9F 2-10-0 No. 92136, pounding up at 10-15 mph with no less than four GW 94XX 0-6-0Ts at the rear, it made a thrilling sight - and sound.

Four '9400' class 0-6-0 Pannier tanks banking

Copyright Ben Brooksbank
Four '9400' class 0-6-0 Pannier tanks are needed to bank an Up oil train on the Lickey Bank. These were at the back of the train depicted in SO9871 : Heavy oil train ascending Lickey Bank and noise was tremendous -and I recorded it. They are '9400' class Nos. 8402, 9430, 8400 and 8401.

Bromsgrove Shed

Copyright Ben Brooksbank
Two WR '9400' 0-6-0 Panniers in the Locomotive Yard at Bromsgrove. The former small Midland Depot at Bromsgrove housed the Lickey Bankers and was taken over in 1958 by the WR. Here '9400' class 0-6-0PTs Nos. 8401 and 8400 (built by Bagnall in 8/49) rest from their labours.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Toy and train auctions

Vectis have another sale coming up on the 23rd July with many lots including:
Minic Railway
Hornby Dublo 3-rail Locos & Sets
Hornby Dublo 3-rail Rolling Stock & Accessories
Hornby Dublo 2-rail Locos and Sets
Hornby Dublo 2-rail Rolling Stock and Accessories
Wrenn Railways
Triang Railways
Triang TT
Triang Minic Motorway
Trix Trains
HO Brass
Brass British Outline
Hornby O Gauge Locomotives
Hornby O Gauge Rolling Stock
Bassett-Lowke & Further O Gauge Locomotives

More information here http://www.vectis.co.uk/

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Lickey Incline

Blackwell at the top of the Lickey Incline, looking down towards Bromsgrove, Malverns in the distance

The steepness of the incline is exaggerated in this telephoto image, still pretty steep at 1 in 37 for two and a half miles.© Copyright Richard Dunn and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

City of Truro

City of Truro, originally uploaded by rhesus42.

Also available as a model by Bachmann

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Watching trains on film

Love Film has 439 railway documentary films including the 'Railway Roundabout' series, Railway Walks with Julia Bradbury and the British Transport Commission series of films and many more to rent or buy plus feature films with a railway theme such as 'The Train'

Saturday, June 04, 2011

More illustrations by the artist A N Wolstenholme

Tender arranged for oil firing
Drawing by A N Wolstenholme

The illustrations by A N Wolstenholme of the GWR 2-8-0 seen to the left and below were were used to support an article on the Great Western Railway oil firing project described by  B W Anwell in the Ian Allan Trains Annual for 1948. The article also includes some notes by Cecil J Allen of a footplate trip on an oil fired GWR Castle Class locomotive.
"By way of commentary on (oil firing) ..., some details supplied by Mr. Cecil J. AlIen of a recent footplate trip on G.W.R. No. 5039, Rhuddlan Castle, one of the four engines of this class fitted to burn oil fuel, by the kind permission of Mr. F. W. Hawksworth, Chief Mechanical Engineer, G.W.R., are of particular interest. The train concerned was the 3 p.m. from Bristol to Paddington, and although the schedule is easy enough, the load, after Swindon especially, was substantial, and some very fast running was made between stops. "The first impression made on anyone familiar with the foot¬plate," Mr. AlIen writes," is the fact of the permanently closed and sealed-up firedoor, and the tender front from which no coal is ever taken. The second, as you have described, is that the fireman, though relieved of the physical labour of firing and comfortably accommodated on a padded seat, has to concentrate more closely on his work than with manual firing.

"The enginemen with whom I rode were Driver Pollard and Fireman Green, of Old Oak Common shed, and the liaison between them was perfect. Every movement of the engine regulator and cut-off was accompanied by a suitable variation of the fireman's oil and steam controls, and the fireman was particularly alert to shut off the oil feed directly the regulator was closed. The efficiency of his work was measured by the colour of the smoke issuing from the chimney, and the dampers were adjusted from time to time to control the air supply to the firebox. Throughout the journey the steam pressure was maintained without the slightest difficulty at the 225 lb. mark.

"Out of Bristol we had a ten-coach train of 310 tare tons, or 330 tons gross; from Swindon it was increased to 346 tare tons, or 370 tons in all behind the engine tender. One smart piece of work was when we mounted Dauntsey bank-2 miles at I in 100 ¬with no greater drop in speed than from 60 to 51 m.p.h.; here the engine regulator was full open and we were cutting off at 20 per cent. On the easy grades beyond Swindon, 15 per cent cut-off soon raised the speed to 70 m.p.h. and from Maidenhead to Slough the engine ran freely at 71 m.p.h. on the level with 17 per cent cut-off.

" Among the lively start-to-stop times made was one of 15 minutes, 30 seconds for the 13.4 miles from Swindon to Challow, and another of 13 minutes, 23 seconds (13 minutes net) for the 10.8 miles from Challow to Didcot; we should have covered the 16.7 miles from Chippenham up to Swindon in 20 minutes, but for a signal check. The brightest running of all was when we passed Southall, 26.9 miles from Reading start, in 27 minutes, 7 seconds. It was an impressively efficient performance."

The full meaning and extent of the oil-burning conversion scheme in this country may now perhaps be realised, and the reason for its estimated cost of many thousands of pounds appreciated. If it achieves nothing else, let us hope that, as far as oil-burning locomotives are concerned, we shall never again hear that age-old excuse for late running -" short of steam! "
copyrights acknowledged
Cab and Firebox arranged for oil firing
on GWR 2-8-0
Drawing by A N Wolstenholme 

Monday, May 30, 2011

The railway artist A N Wolstenholme

A N Wolstenholme was a prolific artist of railway subjects in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s whose work appeared in a variety of media including British Railways posters and flyers, Ian Allan Spotters' Books and jigsaw puzzles. He had a particular and recognisable style particularly when using scraper board to illustrate his subject. In the Ian Allan Trains Annual for 1948, he wrote and illustrated an article under the title of 'A Question of Line' where he looked at the aesthetics of railway locomotive design using one of Edward Thompson's LNER pacifics and William Stanier's de-streamlined Duchess class to make his point.

An improved Thompson Pacific

An improved Stanier Pacific

Little is known of Wolstenholme's life and he is now in the process of being re-discovered and his work deserves greater recognition. But see my later postings on Wolstenholme

For more pictures of A N Wolstenholme's work see the following sites:

The Science Museum here
True Art Work here
National Railway Museum here
and Mike Ashworth's Flickr site here
Phil Beard's blog has some illustrations and comments on ANW's work for Ian Allan here
Dave Rowland's excellent
THE FAMOUS IAN ALLAN ABC BOOKS > Railways > Section 048: Interior Artwork etc of A N Wolstenholme

British Railways - Passenger Train map, c1954 - illustration by A N Wolstenholme

A N Wolstenholme was frequently commissioned to produce scraperboard illustrations for BR and other transport publications in the 1950s. Here, the front cover of the BR system map sees a steam hauled express racing along.

British Railways

British Railways - new diesel train service Birmingham - South Wales, leaflet illustrated by A N Wolstenholme - 1957

British Electric Trains

British Electric Trains by H W A Linecar, second edition 1948 - cover by A N Wolstenholme

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Model railway history - G & R Wrenn Ltd for Sale - 1989

Wrenn  Railways was put for sale as a going concern in 1989 and advertised in the Financial Times in November of that year. The company and most of the assets were ultimately bought by Dapol in 1992 and the story since then has been told elsewhere.

G & R Wrenn Ltd made a loss of £34,000 in 1987 on sales of £201,000 and in 1988 increased sales to £252,000 and made a small profit of £1,133. Illustrated here are extracts from the accounts for the year end 31 December 1988 that were sent to those enquiring about the sale together with a copy of the supporting letter from G R Wrenn the managing director. A copy of the 7th edition catalogue was also sent out. 

In November 2001, three collectors of Wrenn model railways bought the G. & R. Wrenn Company from Dapol, acquiring the Company name, the Registered Trade Marks, the original tools and presses (with the exception of the wagon tools that had been absorbed into the Dapol production lines) and all of the  remaining parts and spares. They have subsequently gone into limited production of short runs of Wrenn models. For more information on the history of Wrenn and the current activities of the company see here

Should anyone wish to have a copy of the sales letter and the full set of accounts (13 pages) without the watermark please send a cheque for £10 payable to BHA Consultants Ltd at the following address

The Director
BHA Consultants Ltd
Brook House
4 Lawrence Gardens

Wrenn Profit and Loss

Wrenn Balance Sheet

Wrenn Catalogue - Title page

Wrenn Catalogue - back page


Saturday, April 09, 2011

Lickey Incline Book - Bromsgrove to Gloucester

BROMSGROVE TO GLOUCESTER Including Ashchurch to Great Malvern by Vic Mitchell, Keith Smith

The main route from the bottom of the Lickey Incline to Gloucester is covered in this excellent book. The historical background is provided and the railway, its trains and infrastructure, are shown as it was in the past and with more recent views plus maps of the junctions and stations on the way. The branch from Ashchurch to Great Malvern and Tewkesbury is also covered, with all photographs having detailed informative captions.
(Middleton Press 'Midland Main Lines' Series)

94xx class 8409+9493 banking through Bromsgrove station. 2 March 1963

Hawkesworth pannier tanks - when labour was relatively cheap and the BR time and motion people had one assumes not looked at the Lickey Incline operations! Picture and copyright by Richard Postill - excellent photographer with a very good collection of heritage/archive railway pictures from the 1960s

Lickey bankers returning through Bromsgrove. 25 January 1964

F W Hawkesworth/K J Cooke designed Pannier Tank - not what Cooke wanted but GWR directors decreed that a 'modern ' steam loco could not have a dome! See K.J. Cook: Swindon Steam 1921-51 , Ian Allan 1974. Excellent, informative and readable account of 30 years at Swindon Works and its locomotives and working practices by someone who worked with Collett and Hawkesworth.

92118 on the Lickey

92118 on the Lickey, originally uploaded by Tutenkhamun Sleeping.

Riddles designed British Railways Standard Class 9F 2-10-0 92118 starts to descend the Lickey Incline in the 1960s.

Image copyright 2011, The Steve Jones Collection.
(Originally featured on the now defunct 'OldBuffers' website.)

44981 on the Lickey

44981 on the Lickey, originally uploaded by Tutenkhamun Sleeping.

Stanier 'Black 5' 44981 starts to descend the Lickey Incline in the 1960s.

Image copyright 2011, The Steve Jones Collection.
(Originally featured on the now defunct 'OldBuffers' website.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Large Engines on the Lickey Incline: 1956-1964

The history of the large banking engines following the withdrawal of 58100 'Big Bertha' in May 1956 is quite interesting. After so many years with the same engine, this period was to produce up to eight separate bankers, an average of one different engine every 12 months.

Riddles 9F
 The first signs of British Rail's intent became apparent in August 1955 when standard Class 9F 2-10-0 No. 92008 was sent to Bromsgrove for banking trials (remaining until 24 August). An observer at Bromsgrove on 23 August considered the banking performance of 92008 to be "particularly impressive", and certainly the trials were obviously regarded as successful by the authorities, because when 58100 was withdrawn the permanent replacement turned out to be another 9F, 92079, which on and off stayed for the next 7½ years. In fact, the resident large banker (this tradition was carried on right to the end of steam at Bromsgrove) was a 9F type throughout this period.

The full list is as f ollows:

To this list can be added one additional banker which is included because although it might not be regarded as large compared to 'Big Bertha' or 92079, it was a one-off as a banker and quite different from the Jinties or Pannier tanks. In February 1958 a change in regional boundaries took place so that the line to the south-west of milepost 52½. (Including Blackwell, the Incline, and Bromsgrove) came under Western Region jurisdiction. It was probably this fact that caused the visit to Bromsgrove of two ex-GWR tank locomotives 2-8-2T No.7235 and 2-8-0T No.5226.

GWR 7200 class 2-8-2 No 7202 at Severn Tunnel Junction
 26 April 1964. Copyright - Richard Postill
Another influence was that the regular large banker 92079 was away at Crewe Works and perhaps the authorities were looking for some powerful temporary substitute. Whatever the reason, 7235 arrived in mid-April for banking trials, but when she was tried on 18 April she fouled the platform edges at Bromsgrove. A few days later she was noted on Bromsgrove shed out of use, the test being deemed a failure because of the clearance problem and 7235 was sent back to Worcester. This engine had been specifically transferred to 85A Worcester in April from 87F Llanelli, to be available for trial purposes. It was fairly rare for this class of locomotive to be shedded outside South Wales, and after a brief stay at Worcester and Gloucester she returned to Llanelli in March 1959.

42XX GWR 5235 Severn Tunnel Junction.
26 April 1964. Copyright Richard Postill
The next move was to try 5226, which arrived in May 1958, being officially allocated at the time to 85C Hereford. As a matter of interest this engine was another of the few heavy freight tank locomotives to 'escape' from South Wales when it was allocated to 82C Swindon in July 1952, being moved to Hereford in October 1955. This engine did not have any clearance problems, presumably associated with its shorter frame and wheelbase compared to 7235, and was passed for use at Bromsgrove. If she had come as a temporary measure (and the fact that she was not officially transferred to Bromsgrove 85D until November 1959 lends credence to this view) she was obviously thought by the authorities to be worth an extended stay, because she remained at Bromsgrove until April 1960, then being re-allocated to 85A Worcester.

She was to remain there until early 1964 when she returned to South Wales being allocated to 88H Tondu, 87F Llanelli, and 86E Severn Tunnel Junction in quick succession. She was withdrawn in March 1965 and cut up at Cashmores, Newport, in June 1965. During her stay at Bromsgrove she was in fairly regular use, but whilst offering an interesting change from the normal bankers, 5226 was not regarded as either a resounding success or a dismal failure. As a postscript 5226 was to meet again some of her old colleagues at Bromsgrove when she visited Stafford Road Works, Wolverhampton in 1961. A visit on 5 November recorded her with 92079, two of Bromsgrove's ex-GWR pannier tanks 8405 and 8409, and a similar engine from Worcester, 8415, which over a number of years was to help out on banking duties many times.

Returning to the 9F 2-10-0's listed earlier, some brief records of their careers are tabulated below:


Was allocated to 86A Newport Ebbw Junction when new but had become an 86C Cardiff Canton engine by the time she acted as temporary banker at the end of 1959. She was to work for almost 3 years from 50A York Shed before withdrawal in August 1965.


Was a l5A Wellingborough engine at the time she came to Bromsgrove for trials in 1955, but was transferred to 21A Saltley in June 1957. She was subsequently sent to Rowsley (17C), Kirkby (16E), Speke (8C), and Warrington (8B) before withdrawal in October 1967.


Arrived at Bromsgrove in May 1956 (having been allocated new to 18A Toton in April) to replace 58100 'Big Bertha'. By early June she was well into her stride complete with 'Big Bertha's' electric headlight, and on 10 June was observed banking the 2.10 pm Bristol- .Bradford. In the period August-November 1957 she visited Crewe Works, being noted on a freight on the Leeds-Huddersfield line on 5 October. The next day she was at Farnley Junction Shed. Whilst she was ,away banking duties were covered on a week by week basis by Sa1tley's recently acquired 9Fs, such as 92135 - 92139 In early 1958 she paid her second visit to works; she was noted at Crewe Works through March and by 5 April was at Birkenhead in ex-works condition, obviously running-in (by coincidence she would spend the latter years of her life based at Birkenhead). By 10 May she was banking again on the Lickey. A year later she was dead on Bromsgrove Shed with a defective boiler and was despatched to Swindon Works this time for attention. She was to be away for some while - it wasn't until 5 January 1960 that she was noted ex-works at Paddington on a running-in parcels turn, newly fitted with a double chimney, and it was later in the month before she returned to Bromsgrove. (As a matter of interest the fitting of a double chimney as standard commenced with 92183 and included the rest of the class up to 92250.
Riddles 2-10-0 on shed

Of the locomotives preceding them only three were later converted, the original 92000, 92079 and 92178. The fitting of a double chimney is designed to make the engine more free-steaming, a feature that should be particularly beneficial to a banking engine required to work very hard for relatively short periods. Whether in fact there was any real benefit in practice to 92079 is not known). Certainly Swindon Works had not appeared to be in any great hurry because 92079 had stood in the works yard through June to end September. The next occasion she was to leave Bromsgrove was late in 1961 when another short visit to works was deemed necessary, this time to Stafford Road Works, Wolverhampton.

In February 1963 she was used in trials on the Incline when Brush Type 4 No. D1500 was tested, although it only involved following the test train at a reasonable distance as a safety precaution in the event of a breakaway or the train stalling. October 1963 was to bring her reallocation to 8H Birkenhead where she survived until November 1967, the interim period including another visit to Crewe Works in late 1964, and various visits back to the Midlands. She was observed at Stourbridge Junction Shed on 19 September 1966 and at Saltley on 25 September 1966. After a period of store at Speke Junction she was cut up at Campbell's, Airdrie in April 1968


Arrived at Bromsgrove (850) in October 1963 as a replacement for 92079. Since being allocated new to Banbury (84C) in June 1958, this engine had been to Plymouth, Banbury again, Swindon and Newport Ebbw Junction, so she was a much-travelled member of her class. Her travels had also included visits to Swindon Works in November 1960 -February 1961 and most unusually, to Gorton Works (Manchester) where she was noted in the erecting shed on 11 November 1962. As it happened, her travelling was to come to a rapid halt because within a few weeks of arriving at Bromsgrove she was out of service with cylinder problems.

After checking by an inspector sent up from Swindon 92223 was officially withdrawn in February 1964 due to scoring of both cylinders. She was the first 9F to be withdrawn, after only 5½ years service. For the next 3-4 months she lay at the back of Bromsgrove Shed before being despatched to Swindon Works where she was recorded on 26 July. She was in a very poor external condition following the many weeks of inactivity. During this delay the authorities had reconsidered the position and decided it would be economic to repair the locomotive; she was duly reinstated (on the books) to 2A Tyseley, effective June 1964.

In the event she was still in the erecting shop at Swindon Works in late November. After this 'resurrection' she was to survive until the very last days of steam, being allocated to Saltley and Carlisle Kingmoor before withdrawn from 10A Carnforth depot in April 1968. In this later period she paid a return visit to Bromsgrove on 8 June 1965 with a passing freight, was seen at 8A Edge Hill on Boxing Day 1966 with a newly-cast smokebox number plate (the original having been prematurely sold) and was the only steam locomotive noted during several hours of observation near Carlisle on 15 November 1967.


Was the last 9F to be allocated officially to Bromsgrove (from January-August 1964) and so was the last of the large steam banking engines. Allocated new to Banbury in August 1958 she subsequently spent time at Old Oak Common, Newport Ebbw Junction, and Gloucester. She was recorded at Swindon Works in August 1958, February 1961 (on this occasion in company with 8406, 8427 and 92223, all associated with Bromsgrove), and May-August 1962. After the problems with 92223 at the beginning of 1964, 92230 was recorded on banking duty on 10 February. After leaving Bromsgrove when the shed was closed in September 1964, she was seen around the Midlands quite often before her withdrawal in December 1965, being cut up at Cashmores, Newport about June 1966.


Was allocated new in August 1958 to 86G Pontypool Road but was soon moved to Severn Tunnel Junction and then to Cardiff Canton. In April 1959, when 92079 went to Swindon Works, 92231 was sent as a temporary substitute arriving on 8 April and staying until about October, when she retired to Worcester Works for some minor but necessary repairs. She was reported in the works during November but after repair returned to Cardiff Canton, her home depot. She was never officially transferred to Bromsgrove. In January 1961 she was moved to 71A Eastleigh (one of the few engines of this class to be allocated to the Southern Region), paid a visit to Eastleigh Works in April, and was seen at Bromsgrove again on 26 October 1961 at the head of a Fawley to Bromford Bridge oil train. The later part of her career was spent working from 50A York Shed, from which she was withdrawn in November 1966, to be cut up at Drapers, Hull.


started life new in August 1958 at 86G Pontypool Road (like 92231), but during 1959 she was almost constantly on the move, her home sheds being 86E Severn Tunnel Junction, 86C Cardiff Canton, and then 84C Banbury.

She was officially transferred to Bromsgrove (85D) in the 4-week period ending 7 October 1961, but was actually recorded as having arrived as early as 25 August. She was in use as a banker when trials were carried out by Peak diesel D40 hauling unbanked test trains. When she arrived at Bromsgrove she was in ex-works condition having just emerged from Swindon Works where she had been noted in the 'A' shop during May and June. Her stay at Bromsgrove was, however, short; when

92079 arrived back from Wolverhampton Works, 92234 was transferred in December 1961 back to Banbury. During the next few years she remained a Midlands-based engine, being allocated to Tyseley and Saltley before eventually arriving at 8H Birkenhead in December 1966. In the period 1962-66 she visited Crewe Works three times (late 1963, mid 1965 and Autumn 1966). She was withdrawn from Birkenhead in November 1967 being sold to Campbell's, Airdrie in February/March 1968 for scrapping.

There were other 9F types in use as bankers from time to time, normally Saltley-allocated members on temporary loan; one known example is 92138, another being 92135 for a few days at the beginning of April 1959.

Riddles 9F at Wolverhampton
In summary, the 9Fs in their relatively short period as bankers were liked by the engine crews and did a good job. The disappointment of losing 'Big Bertha' in 1956 was forgotten when the value of 92079 was realised and from then on the future of this type of locomotive at Bromsgrove was secure, albeit that there was a considerable 'chopping and changing' of these engines over the remaining years of steam. Fortunately, some examples of this class have been preserved, the most well-known being the last-built example 92220 'Evening Star', which will act as a reminder for future rail enthusiasts of the last of the large Lickey banking engines.

Source: 'The Railway History of Bromsgrove and the Lickey Incline' Part 2

'A miscellany of local railway events, operating practices, banking engines, services and a locomotive traffic survey, for the period 1949-1983. Compiled by Robert Danes on behalf of the Bromsgrove Steam Enthusiasts Club.

This is an excellent anthology of information on the Lickey Incline. Part 1 does not seem to have been published. Attempts to trace Mr Danes have come to nought and the Club no longer seems to function.

See more of Richard Postill's splendid photographs of steam on British Railways here 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Working the Lickey Incline - 1949 - 1956

Locomotives allocated to Bromsgrove and employed on banking 1949 - 1956

This period is dominated by the two visits of the ex LNER Beyer-Garratt Class VI 2-8-8-2T No. 69999 and, of course, the final years of the ex- Midland Railway 0-10-0 No. 58100, known by all as 'Big Bertha'.

The need for a large banking engine specifically to work on the Lickey Incline had been recognised as long ago as 1845 by Joseph McConnell, the locomotive engineer who was the superintendent of the Birmingham-Gloucester Railway from 1842. He built an 0-6-0 saddle tank weighing about 30 tons, No. 38, named 'Great Britain', which was capable of hauling 135 tons up the Incline at 8-10 mph. This engine was rebuilt at least twice before final scrapping in 1901 after 56 years service. The concept of a specialised banking engine had been established.

The Midland Railway continued this tradition when they began to consider a special banker in 1911. During the next few years various designs were considered, including a 2-10-0 tank locomotive, an articulated 2-6-6-2 tank engine and an 0-6-6-0 tank loco with a rigid frame. In the event the design adopted was an 0-10-0, the only decapod tender engine in service at the time. She was the most powerful and largest engine built for the Midland Railway with four enormous cylinders (16t-in x 28-in stroke) and a tender cab which was essential as she spent half her life in reverse and protection for the crew was imperative. The specially superheated boiler originally fitted was numbered 4886; a second similar boiler No. 5395 was fitted in December 1922 and these two boilers were then fitted alternately through the engine's life.

The newly-built engine was recorded in the erecting shop at Derby Works at the end of November 1919 ready for painting. The first steaming took place on 1 January 1920 at Derby and the engine, numbered 2290, was soon despatched to Bromsgrove, arriving on 20 January 1920.
The Midland Railway's Lickey Banker

It was to remain at Bromsgrove for the next 36 years other than occasional visits to Derby Works for overhaul, and a very brief spell on trial, hauling coal trains between Toton and Brent in 1924. This was not a success and no further similar engines were built. The powerful headlight for buffering up in the dark was fitted in 1921, the current being provided by a steam turbo generator fitted in front of the cab below the running plate on the left-hand side. The tender could hold 2050 gallons of water and 4 tons of coal - each ascent consumed about 7 cwt.

The principal features of the new engine were the ten coupled wheels, four simple-expansion cylinders, and a steam distribution arrangement by which two ordinary piston valves regulated the steam supply to four cylinders. With one exception - that of the well-known "Decapod" tank locomotive formerly on the Great Eastern Railway - the new Midland engine was the first locomotive working in Britain to run upon five coupled axles, and was therefore the first tender engine built for the home railways of the 0-10-0 type.
Great Eastern Railway  - James Holden's Decapod

As a British freight engine it was also unique in employing four cylinders working with simple expansion; and the valve arrangement was a novelty in the UK since it represented the simplest means known for distributing steam to four cylinders, needing no rocking levers, extra valves, etc, and therefore adding not one single moving part to the valve motion over and above what was required for an ordinary two-cylinder machine. The system adopted by Sir Henry Fowler merits particular attention. Walschaerts' gear, of exceedingly light and elegant design, and arranged with a maximum cut-off of 75% drove an outside-admission piston valve situated in the normal position above the outside cylinder.

The front piston valve head served the front port of the outside cylinder and the back port of the outside cylinder and vice versa, the ports of the latter cylinder being crossed and the cranks of course set at a relative angle of 180 degrees. This arrangement achieved two ends: firstly it secured the utmost freedom from the complications which detract from the recognised benefits of multi-cylindering, and secondly, it solved the problem of suitably locating valves for the interior cylinders when these had to be placed high up with little room to spare between them and the smoke box floor. The only disadvantage apparent lay in the disparity of the clearance between the direct and cross-ported cylinders, but with an engine intended for such highly specialised service as this locomotive under notice, this objection was not really a problem. In foreign examples of this univalvular dual distribution, the valve was generally situated above and between the two cylinders, and thus the clearances were more or less equalised, but this was out of the question in this Midland engine by reason of the lack of space, and moreover usually demanded the slight additional complication of a rocker or other means of transferring the movement from the valve gear to the valve spindle.

The drive from all cylinders was taken by the third or central pair of wheels. This allowed adequately long connecting rods for all sets of motion and the placing of four cranks upon the middle axle was also advantageous in other respects. In order that the connecting rods could clear the second axle without unduly raising and inclining the cylinders, that axle was slightly cranked in two places, thus giving clearance to the connecting rods when the cranks were near their lowest points. The cylinders were composed of a two-piece casting, bolted together in the central vertical plane, and were inclined at a slope of 1 in 7 to the horizontal. Their covers at the back and front were of the same diameter, which enabled the cylinders for both sides of the engine to be cast from one pattern. Cylindrical bushes were fitted to the outside big-ends and coupling rod pins, with the exception of those of the leading wheels, where the bearings were adjustable. Reversing is effected by a steam-operated servo-motor placed near the reversing arm shaft, pipes from the footplate controlling the steam and cataract cylinder valves. Great attention had been paid to the lubrication, both cylinders and axle boxes being supplied by mechanical pumps of the Midland Company's own type.

Suspension for all wheels was by flat laminated springs with compensating beams between the first and second, fourth and fifth axles. Brakes were applied to all wheels, the first three pairs being actuated by a steam cylinder behind the crank shaft, and the two rear pairs by an independent cylinder located under the drag box. An engine hand brake was also provided, acting upon all wheels, as it was deemed inadvisable to rely solely upon a tender hand brake, in consequence of the relative lightness of the tender by comparison with the great weight of the engine.
Big Bertha waiting for a train

The boiler was furnished with a Midland type super-heater of 27 elements. The firebox was 10 ft long and had a grate area of 311 sq ft. It was tapered in two directions, the crown sloping downwards towards the back, and the two sides inwards in the same direction, the back plate being in fact similar to that used on the Midland compound express engine. Though actually designed for a pressure of 200 Ib per sq in, the normal working pressure was 180 lb per sq in, at which pressure the four safety valves were set to discharge. The feed was by two hot water injectors, and special provision was made for warming the water in the tender by utilising steam which otherwise would have been dissipated at the safety valves.

The tender was of moderate size arid weight, and fitted with a neat but spacious shelter. As the service required was intermittent, there was no necessity for large fuel and water capacity, opportunities for replenishment being frequent. It was first intended to construct the engine as a ten-coupled tank, but preference was eventually given for a tender, this permitting a large boiler without unduly loading the wheels, the maximum axle weight being the very moderate one of 15~ tons on the middle pair of wheels.

'Big Bertha' as she beame known was from the outset well liked and a popular engine and was to pound up and down the Incline for successive crews over many years, amassing an unbelievable 838,856 miles by the time of her withdrawal in May 1956. In 1947 and late 1948 she had been renumbered 22290 and then 58100.

During the last six or seven years of her life covered by this record she shared all the banking duties with the Class 3F 0-6-0 'Jinty' tank engines which had been introduced in 1924. The regular engines of this class at Bromsgrove during this time were:

47257/47276/47301/47303/47305/47308/47425/47502/47565/ 47635. They were supplemented by the 21C-allocated Class 3F 0-6-0 locomotives 43186/43462/43667.

In March 1950 she was recorded at Derby Works in ex-works lined black, was back at the Works in January 1954 and again in November 1954 when she was noted on both occasions in the erecting shop. On 16 April 1955 she banked the special railtour 'The Lickey Limited' hauled by Castle Class 7017 'G J CHURCHWARD' (an unusual visitor) with the ex-LNER observation car at the rear, but by June she was back at Derby for a routine boiler examination.

While she was away ex-LNER Garratt 69999 arrived in August (more about this later) at the same time as British Railways Standard Class 9F 2-10-0 No. 92008 for trials as an assistant banker. All these developments gave rise to a rumour that the withdrawal of 58100 was imminent and the local newspaper printed an obituary. Bromsgrove crews were reported as petitioning Derby for a reprieve and one driver proposed to organise a farewell dinner to 'BIG BERTHA', to which Bromsgrove engine crews past and present, senior railway officials, railway enthusiasts and civic dignitaries would be invited. However, this was not necessary as no decision had been made to withdraw 58100 and she was back at work by late August.

Unfortunately, the reprieve was only temporary because withdrawal took place only a few months later in the 3-week period ending 19th May 1956. She was stored at Derby Works from May 1956 to March 1957 being cleaned up for her final appearance at the Works Open Day in August 1956. There was some suggestion of preservation but cutting up took place on 6th/7th April 1957 in the erecting shop with only the special multiple cylinder block being retained as a relic of this unique locomotive.

Whilst 'BERTHA' had been performing as well as ever in her last years, it was a different story for the Garratt 69999. Built in 1925 by Beyer-Peacock (see Pathe News clip below) for banking duties on the Worsborough Incline (between Wath and Manchester on the Woodhead route) she became redundant in 1949 when the line was electrified. It was decided to send her to Bromsgrove to be tried on the Lickey Incline, so she was officially transferred to 2lC arriving on 7 March 1949. When she arrived she was the wrong way round according to local drivers; wrong way because it was preferable for the cab-end to lead on the ascent making buffering up easier.
The LNER Beyer Garratt at work

She was accordingly taken to Worcester to turn on their turntable but was too long and was returned to Bromsgrove; the problem was solved by running her up to Kings Norton and turning her on the Lifford triangle. Initially her use as a banker was limited because a local railwayman stated that "it only worked between 11 am and 3 pm because the inspector in charge is on a day turn and must not be delayed in reaching home by 5 o-clock".! She was noted on 23 July 1949 banking trains hauled by Class 5's 44665 and 44802, still bearing MEXBORO on her buffer beam.

69999 was to remain at Bromsgrove for only just over a year because by June 1950 she was noted at Derby Works and by November 1950 was back on the Eastern Region. After a period in store at Mexborough she was noted banking at Worsborough in May 1951. The Bromsgrove locomen had a poor opinion of the engine - it would not steam properly, consumed 4/5 cwt of coal more than 'BIG BERTHA' for every ascent (which made it hard work for the fireman), and had very poor braking capabilities. Some typical comments were:

"it wouldn't steam properly"

"it's a useless great thing, always short of steam"

These views, however, were not new; as long ago as 1933 a certain Mr Beastall of the LNER during a discussion about synchronisation of the Garratt exhausts went on record as saying

"these questions are asked in view of the fact that we are experiencing some little trouble with the steaming of the Garratt engine under my supervision at Mexborough "

There was one occasion in March 1950, recounted in some detail in a railway periodical of the time, when ex-LMS Garratt 47972 arrived at Bromsgrove with 42 loaded wagons and was banked up Lickey by 69999. The train stalled half-way and had to be rescued by 58100 'BIG BERTHA'

Having been returned to Mexborough as unsuitable for banking on the Lickey, the authorities had to decide what to do with her. The events of the next 3 years are catalogued below:

April 1951
Consideration given to the fitting of a mechanical stoker, but the idea was rejected

August 1952
Gorton Works received authority to fit oil burning equipment in order for the engine to work on the Lickey Incline. It would also receive an electric headlamp together with the necessary generators and conducting and a larger steam-pipe from the cab to the brake cylinder on the leading wheel unit. So both the steaming and braking problems were tackled

August/ September 1952
At Gorton Works receiving attention and modifications

November 1952
Acquired electric headlight

December 1952
Ex-works at Gorton (7/12/52), conversion to oil-burning complete

21 December 1952
Ex-works 69999 worked a test train from Dewsnap sidings (near Manchester) to Dunford Bridge, on the Woodhead route. The load was equal to 41 heavy wagons and the schedule (including a 10 minute waterstop) was 61 minutes from Dinting to Dunford. The actual time was 175 minutes including a 33 minute stop at Woodford, the main problem being shortage of steam

July 1953
Gorton Works under repair

August/ September 1953
Another test run to Woodhead took place, but no details are available

11 October 1953
A 43-wagon train was hauled from Dewsnap Yard to Crowden to test the steaming characteristics

November 1953
At Gorton in a "woebegone" condition

18 March 1954
The Garratt left Dewsnap Sidings at 12.45 pm with a test train of some 40 wagons, in a dense cloud of smoke

October 1954
Back at Gorton Works

By this time, over three years had been spent trying to get things right and 69999 had been in and out of works many times. Whether by now everyone was satisfied or had just done their best and run out of patience and resolve, is not known. What is clear is that the authorities decided to send 69999 back to Bromsgrove to give her another try at banking. She was despatched from Gorton on 29 June 1955 and reached Kings Norton before failing with a hot-box. This caused her to return to Burton Shed (where she stayed at least from 30 June to 5 July presumably en route back to Derby, the nearest works. She finally arrived at Bromsgrove on 7 August 1955, being used' on the first trip on 9 August. By 23 August there was a notable trio at Bromsgrove comprising 69999, 58100 and 92008 (still on trial), the 9F being the only engine of the three in steam.

To the top of the Lickey Incline at Blackwell, Worcestershire, with banker at rear of an ascending freight, View northward, towards Blackwell and Birmingham; ex-Midland Birmingham - Bristol main line. The Lickey Banker in 1957 was BR Standard 9F 2-10-0 No. 92079, successor to 'Big Bertha'. Here it is near the top of the two-mile 1-in-37 bank from Bromsgrove, with Blackwell in sight.
Photo by Ben Brooksbank

After a brief period of banking, which was no more successful than her previous efforts as a coal burner in 1949-50, she was retired to Bromsgrove Shed where she was noted on 8 September "be-grimed and dead". By 18th September 1955 she was at Burton Shed, being officially transferred to 178 Burton during September, followed quickly by her official transfer back to 39A Gorton, recorded as the 4-week period ending 22nd October 1955. She was condemned in November and on New Year's Day 1956 was observed at Doncaster Works, awaiting scrapping. So all the efforts to improve this locomotive had been unsuccessful and in hindsight it might have been better if she had been consigned to the scrapheap in 1949.

The withdrawal of these two giants within 6 months of each other signalled the end of an era on the Lickey; steam banking was to continue for another 8 years but with much more modern locomotives and even ex-GWR motive power.

Source: 'The Railway History of Bromsgrove and the Lickey Incline' Part 2
'A miscellany of local railway events, operating practices, banking engines, services and a locomotive traffic survey, for the period 1949-1983. Compiled by Robert  Danes on behalf of the Bromsgrove Steam Enthusiasts Club.

This is an excellent anthology of information on the Lickey Incline. Part 1 does not seem to have been published. Attempts to trace Mr Danes have come to nought and the Club no longer seems to function.

Film of the LNER Garratt here


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Railways in Film

Apart from the many amateur and professional clips of railway subjects on YouTube such as the British Transport Commission Film 'This is York'' and 'Paddington Station 1939'  from the film 'The Last Journey'. The BBC has an 'on line ' archive as part of its 'Nation on Film' site here.
John Huntley wrote what was the definitive book on railways in the movies with 'Railways In The Cinema' published in 1969 and updated in 1993 as 'Railways on the Screen' . John who who died in 2003 compiled a number of video anthologies of railways in the cinema including newsreels and some are still available as DVDs from Amazon and others including the 'Steam on 35mm' series, 'Trains From The Arc' and 'Classic Railway Newseeels' all by Video 125.
John Huntley's obituary from The Guardian can be found here.
Many of the films featured in Railways in the Cinema can be rented from LoveFilm.com