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53807 at Westerleigh.
Photograph by Dave Wall.

S & D Fowler 7F No. 53807 is seen passing Westerleigh Down Sidings Signal Box circa 1959.

Allocated to Bath shed all their lives, and universally known as 'Somerset & Dorset' 7F's, their appearance north of Bath on the Midland line was by no means uncommon - indeed they were regularly rostered on freights through Mangotsfield to Bristol, Westerleigh and Avonmouth.

53807 was one of the second batch of 7F's built specifically for the Somerset and Dorset.  It was built by Stephensons in 1925 as works order No. 3893 and received the S & D number of 87.  It was renumbered briefly in 1930 to 9677, before being given the number of 13807 in 1932.  When the railways were nationalised 40,000 was added to L.M.S. engines, giving the final number of 53807.  The loco was fitted with a new, smaller 'G9AS' boiler in 1954.  They were mainly rostered to freight trains, although in the 1950's and 1960's especially they were used to pull express passenger trains over the Dorset, being able to haul ten coaches unassisted, greater than any other loco until the arrival of the B.R. Standard Class 9F 2-10-0's in 1960.

53807 was generally regarded as the 'best' of the 7F's in the 1960's, and was the first choice for excursions and specials.  It was the last of the 7F's to be withdrawn, this taking place on 5th September 1964, however unlike sister engines 53808 and 53809 (who were sent to Barry Scrapyard and later returned to working order by preservationists), 53807 was cut up shortly after withdrawal.

The loco is seen passing Westerleigh Down Sidings which, although it was not a block post, was classified as a signal box.  Trains from the main line would be passed to Westerleigh Down Sidings from Westerleigh Down Junction Signal Box, and Westerleigh Down would then have controlled the marshalling of the freight train.

Photograph by Dave Wall.

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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 27/4/2001.

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