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Standard Class 3 2-6-2T No. 82004 draws into Staple Hill station with a three coach stopper from Bristol to Bath.
The 82000 Class tanks came about as a result of several routes having maximum axle loadings of sixteen tons post nationalisation, thereby barring the use of the heavier Class 4 engines. Unlike the 84000 Class 2 2-6-2T's, which were based on the popular Ivatt 2-6-2T's already operating the Bristol to Bath locals, there were no suitable, modern Class 3 tanks from the former 'Big Four' on which to base the design, so a 'scaled down' version of the Class 4's was built, utilizing the same frames, cylinders and driving wheels as the 76000 2-6-0's, but adding a smaller, lighter 200 lb/sq in boiler derived from the GW 5100, 8100 loco's. Sadly none of these fabulous little tanks survived into preservation, although the Bluebell are attempting to build one out of the shell of an ex-Barry BR Std 2-6-0.
Designed and built at Swindon, 82004 went into traffic on 14th May 1952, and was allocated to Tyseley, Barry, Newton Abbot, Wellington and Shrewsbury before being transferred to Bath on 24th October 1959, where it was to stay until withdrawal on 1st October 1965. The loco is pulling a three coach Bulleid set, with a set number of 967. The S.R. gave all their coach sets a number, and this was usually carried on the corner of the leading vehicle, as in this case.
Staple Hill Station was opened on 1st November 1888. Its main offices were on the road above, with the platforms themselves reached by the path that can be seen in the photograph. On the up platform (which is where the train is running into) was a waiting room, wooden built but standing on a brick base, whilst the down platform also had a small ticket office. In common with other stations on the line, Staple Hill was gas lit. The other major feature of Staple Hill was the lattice footbridge crossing the line and joining the two platforms, from where this photograph was taken.
Unlike other stations, however, Staple Hill was not a block post, and therefore did not have a signal box. The signal seen in the photograph is the Fishponds distant, controlled by Fishponds Signal Box and (unusually) was pulled off mechanically, rather than motor worked. Pulled by lever No. 24, a massive 909 yards separated the signal from Fishponds Box. It was known locally as 'the Sunday Signal', because it was usually left 'pegged' on Sundays after the morning trains had passed. This distant is on the 'wrong side' of the track to give drivers of trains coming out of Staple Hill tunnel, and with the line curving around to the left in the station itself, additional time to see it.
Immediately after leaving the station the train would have plunged into the 515 yard long Staple Hill Tunnel. Built in 1834 as part of the Bristol and Gloucester Railway, it was widened from its original 12ft to its present double track width of 26ft. It can still be traversed today, by cycling or walking through it as part of the Bristol to Bath Railway Path. The platforms still remain at Staple Hill, along with the sloping paths down to them. A few yards to the right of the photograph, as the station path climbed again in the other direction, at the top of the retaining wall, was a boundary stone (it was still there some years ago) separated by an upright, indicating the boundary between the old Bristol and Gloucester Counties. One wonders just which County actually collected the rates for the station in years gone by!!
Photograph by Cliff Burnham. My thanks to Doug Edwards and Richard Strange for much of the additional details regarding the signals, locomotive and station itself.
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This page last updated by Tony Wray on 21/11/2000.
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