141 – ChasewaterRailwayMuseum Bits & Pieces
From Chasewater News Autumn 1991 – Part 4
More Sid Browne Memories – Pete Aldridge
More Flat Tyres
When Sid started working on the railway, the London & North Western had only recently become part of the LMS. To the disgust of the ex LNWR men, most of the policies of the hated rival Midland Railway were forced on the former ‘Premier Line’. In particular, the Midland ‘small engine policy’ now prevailed. A bitter pill for the LNWR who had always taken great pride in their own much larger locos. Sid’s own personal favourite loco was the LNWR ‘Cloughton’ class of 4-6-0. These express engines did not fit in with the ex Midland way of thinking at all. To make things worse, there were a number of design faults with the Cloughtons, so that although they could perform brilliantly when fresh from an overhaul, the performance soon deteriorated. By the Second World War only a handful remained, downgraded to fast goods trains. One winter’s day, Sid had a last encounter with the last remaining Cloughton, No.6004, once called ‘Princess Louise’.Re-boilered Claughton No.6004 ‘Princess Louise’ with a down express. W.L.Good.
The day was bitterly cold, and the train, a Bescot to Willesden goods, was a long one. The train was made up of vans, sixty of them, and many of them were old with grease type axle box bearings. The loco, grimy, out of condition, but still in express engine red, prepared to leave. Instead of the slow, measured exhaust beat, the loco slipped furiously and repeatedly as it inched its way onto the main line. Even when it was clear of the long siding, the train was still crawling along and the loco struggling to accelerate.
A couple of miles up the line they were brought to a standstill next to a signal box. “Oi Browny!” yelled the signalman, “You’ve left all your brakes on.”
Sid was puzzled. He climbed off the brake van and walked along the train inspecting the wagons. All the brake levers were correctly in the off position. Sid told the signalman.
“They must be on, Sid” he protested, “I just watched you come past and none of your wheels were going round!”
After some discussion, Sid asked the driver to move the train forwards a few yards.
Once again, the loco slipped as it attempted to start the heavy train, but the reason was now clear. The wheels on the wagons were indeed not going round.
A few moments investigation proved the axle boxes had frozen solid, and at least half the train had been skating along the line instead of rolling! No wonder the old loco was hard pressed to pull the train.The last ‘Claughton’ of all to remain in service was large boilered No.6004, formerly named ‘Princess Louise’ until the ‘Princess Royal’ class Pacific No.6204 appeared with the same name, is seen here passing Kilburn High Road with the 6.15 pm Camden –Birmingham goods on June 7th, 1939. This was a regular turn at the rime for this engine and No.6017 ‘Breadalbane’, both being allocated to Willesden. No. 6004 was withdrawn in 1949, eight years after the previous ‘Claughton withdrawals. E.R.Wetherset.
Some oily rags were wrapped around a wheel sprag (a short stick used for stopping wagons when shunting) and a match applied, turning it into a mediaeval style torch. This was then used to thaw out the offending axle boxes and, after much delay, the train continued on its way. Of course, most of the wagons had spectacular ‘flats’ on their wheels and as the loco, now unimpeded, gathered speed, the noise from the train can only be imagined. Being rather late, the driver was keen on making up some lost time. The old racehorse may not have recaptured the speeds she attained in her youth, but by the time 6004 arrived at Willesden, Sid felt he had travelled at two hundred miles per hour rather than fifty!