Taken from the RPS Newsletter Vol 3 No.2 – Date – Summer, 1961?
West Midlands District
Our covered space at the Hednesford depot now houses the London North-Western Webb coal tank, together with the London North-Western TPO van, Maryport & Carlisle and Great Eastern coaches, which are in various stages of restoration.. A considerable amount of really hard work has been carried out during the last three weekends.
Collection of small relics continues to grow, thanks in no small measure being due to two of our junior members, Brian Kinder and Maurice Harper, of Walsall. Donations to the TPO fund were received from some 18 members.
The West Midlands District also toured the railway system of the Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton Company at Burton-on-Trent. The trip was organised as a joint effort by Stafford Railway Circle, and the party travelled in a four-wheeled directors’ saloon of 1889 vintage. Acquired from the Midland Railway, the vehicle was built by the Railway Carriage & Iron Co. Ltd. at Manchester.Bass Locos – Published by Bass Museum
The following piece is taken from an article written by A. A. Chatfield (Vice-Chairman of the West Midlands District).
The Webb Coal Tanks of the LNWR
With the arrival at our Hednesford depot of number 1054, the last of the celebrated Webb coal tank engines, A. A. Chatfield has outlined a brief history of the class.
The first of these locomotives was constructed at Crewe works in 1881, and during the ensuing years no fewer than 300 were built. Initially they were a tank version of the very successful coal engines with the addition of a pair of trailing wheels running in a radial axle box under the bunker and rear wheel tank. Designated for working heavy mineral trains in the colliery areas of Lancashire and the South Wales valleys, the design changed very little over the years except that quite a few were fitting with the vacuum brake for working branch line passenger trains.
Main dimensions were: cylinders 17in. x 24in., pressure 150lbs., grate area 17 sq. ft., total heating surface 10,548 sq. ft., weight in working order 43 tons. Water capacity 1,150 gallons, height 13ft. 1in., and tractive effort 16,530lbs.
It is a strong testimony to the workmanship put into these locomotives that many of them survived for so long after the Grouping, as the total was still quite large even after the close of the second world war when some of the survivors were at least 60 years old. It is strange that so many of Webb’s simple designs should have lingered on for so long, for by the time the railways were nationalised quite a few octogenarians of this design could be found happily and usefully employed in the quiet backwaters of the LMSR.
Naturally the coal tanks were very prominent in the ranks for 30 of them were still at work in these out of the way corners when the 1950s dawned. By this time numbers were thinning out but still the coal tanks chuffed on until only one, 1054 or 58926 as she had become, remained – latterly employed ignominiously as a stationery boiler at Pontypool Road MPD.
However, the old lady still had her final fling to come, for she was cleaned up and hauled out to pilot an LNWR 0-8-0 on the last special train over the Merthyr – Abergavenny line on which duty she was filmed and recorded for posterity. After this brief appearance in the limelight she was sumped in a siding at Pontypool Road depot to await the last call to Crewe for breaking up.
Fortunately the story has had a happy ending for through the good offices of Mr. J. M. Dunn and a large group of enthusiasts who were familiar with these engines in their hey-day, number 1054 has been saved for posterity, decked out in her original finery, and has been put into the custody of the West Midland District of the RPS at Hednesford within a stones throw of her old birthplace.
During 1963, Mr Dunn and his supporters arranged for 1054 to be transferred into the ownership of the National Trust for display at Penrhyn Castle in North Wales, not far from where the engine worked in the 1920s.
Although Penrhyn provided public access in safe and secure surroundings, facilities for effectively exhibiting the locomotive were limited. After nine years at Penrhyn, and with the growth of railway preservation groups providing improved facilities, some of the locomotive’s original trustees arranged for the engine to be cared for by the ‘Bahamas’ Locomotive Society at their Dinting Railway Centre near Glossop in Derbyshire.
In 1980 the engine was overhauled, put into working order, and restored to the LNWR condition in which it would have appeared just prior to the First World War. In May that year it attended the great exhibition at Rainhill near Liverpool. This was held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the ‘trials’ won by George Stephenson’s famous Rocket, and the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830.
In the years since, 1054 has performed reliably and well.
LNWR Loco 1054 at Hednesford depot.
To the best of my knowledge, 1054 is owned by The National Trust. It is currently undergoing overhaul by volunteer members of the’Bahamas’ Locomotive Society, who have cared for the engine since 1973.
The work is being undertaken at the Society’s Museum & Workshop –
Ingrow Loco – on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway in Yorkshire, and is supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.Pictured at Oxenhope on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway by John Winters.
For video footage go to: