WORKING THROUGH BITTON
by Colin Roberts.
This is the second part of Colin's article describing M.R. locomotives that would have worked through Bitton in Midland and early LMS days. Here Colin Roberts describes those early locomotives, along with photographs of the classes of locomotives that were the mainstay of the Mangotsfield to Bath branch in the early days.
Kirtley 2-4-0 No. 1 is just leaving Derby with an express about 1925. The loco was almost sixty years old, having been built in 1866. In 1928 she went through Bitton as a pilot to a Class 2P 4-4-0 on an excursion, her sister, No. 8, was also noted on similar work.
On withdrawal from service in 1930, No. 1 was restored to its former Midland Railway state as No. 156A for preservation, but was subsequently broken up after Stanier decided the space in the Works could not be spared. (Webmaster's note - happily, though, one of the Class, No. 158, is preserved at the Midland Railway Centre).
The Midland, together with the South Eastern & Chatham Railway, was unique amongst the principal British Railways in never employing anything larger than a 4-4-0 for its top link main line duties.
2-4-0 No. 155 was shedded at Bristol Barrow Road until 29th July 1933, then being transferred to Engineer South Wales for the next fourteen years - it will be noticed that the leading splasher carries a plate to that effect. The LMS continued the practice of fixing a plate to a locomotive that was transferred from the Traffic Department to Engineer, showing the district as well.
The Midland had 281 of the 2-4-0 wheel arrangement - by 1928 Bath and Bristol had a good stud of them, consisting of 90, 92, 104, 122, 155, 157 & 164. They were to be seen working the Bath to Bristol local services.
The 'Pines Express' was often piloted by 158, 177, 190 or 198. No. 155 had 20,000 added to her number in 1934, being withdrawn in October 1950 as 20155, and was also the last Midland 2-4-0 to remain in service. The British Railways allocated number, 58020, was never carried.
The photograph of 3094 shows her when shedded at Kentish Town, London, some time between 8th May 1948 and March 1949, when she became 58215 under the British Railways renumbering scheme.
Large numbers of the Johnson 0-6-0 freight locomotive of power class 2F were built between 1875 and 1902. Of the 874 built, well over 300 were rebuilt with larger boilers and increased boiler pressure, becoming class 3F. They were well constructed, the last few remaining in service until the early 1960's - a tribute to their robust design.
In their early days they would have been a common sight working freight trains to Birmingham and beyond but by 1928 they were mainly employed on local trips as the larger, more powerful engines were built. Local engines in the Bristol and Bath area were 2951, 2988, 3010, 3062, 3071, 3076, 3134, 3169, 3173, 3460, 3461 and 3561. In a few places it was possible to see them at work on branch line passenger trains.
During World War Two forty 2F's were loaned to the GWR to replace loco's of a similar weight and power which they had loaned to the War Department. 3094 went to the GWR on loan in February 1940, not returning until 8th September 1945, then being allocated to Bristol Barrow Road where she stayed until 8th May 1948. A regular job was the 6.10 p.m. Bristol St. Philips to Bath freight, passing through Bitton just after 6.30 p.m., returning from Bath at 11.00 p.m. Many a time I watched 3094 pass through Staple Hill going to Bath with about a dozen to fifteen wagons on, plus a brake van.
Class 3F No. 3427 was a rebuld from a 2F in 1924, and is seen on a Down Goods approaching Yate in 1935 when allocated to Gloucester - next to the tender are five wagons of bulk salt. The loco spent over thirty years sheeded in this area, not being withdrawn from service until 1st July 1961. In 1948 the loco spent three months at Templcombe, then returning to Bristol, its final shed.
In 1928 Class 3F 0-6-0's shedded in the area were 3155, 3180, 3181, 3326, 3340, 3400, 3444, 3464, 3497, 3562, 3570, 3604, 3615, 3621, 3638, 3712 and 3729. In later years the local engines were rarely seen on the longer distance work, which for them would have been a load of empty coal wagons for Washwood Heath, Birmingham.
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