Steam Locos of a Leisurely Era
Photo – No. 1581, one of the double framed 4’ 7½” variety, running as a saddle tank about 1920.
For very many years the GWR was a great user of tank engines of the 0-6-0 wheel arrangement, and from the close of the nineteenth century up to quite recent times (written in the late 1950s) when they began to be displaced by diesels, has maintained a stock of about a thousand of this useful type at any one time. In all, nearly 2400 were constructed between the years 1860 and 1956. These cover a wide range of individual classes and varieties – too many to go into here! For purposes of a brief description, they may be very broadly divided into two groups, the ancient – constructed between 1860 and 1905 – and the modern, built from 1929 onwards.
The genesis of the earlier machines commenced with two engines, Nos. 93 and 94, built by Gooch at Swindon in 1860, as small 0-6-0 side tanks. In 1876 and 1877 they were rebuilt at Wolverhampton with the well-known round saddle tanks, and in this form conformed to the general pattern of the later engines. Between 1864 and 1905 very large numbers were turned out from both Swindon and Wolverhampton works, mostly built new as saddle tanks, but some were conversions from side tanks, and a few even from 0-6-0 tender engines. One batch of twelve, nos. 633 0 644, remained as side tanks throughout their existence. Many different classes were involved; some had inside frames and some double (sandwich) variety, a few of these being originally constructed to the 7’ 0” broad gauge when the wheels were outside both sets of frames. The driving wheels on different classes varied between 4’ 1½” and 5’ 0”.
From 1904 onwards the round-topped saddle tanks mounted over the boiler began gradually to be replaced by a pair of square-shaped tanks – known appropriately as ‘panniers’ – also mounted either side of the boiler, but each separate in itself. Gradually a large proportion of the class were so treated, but quite a number were withdrawn without acquiring panniers, and one engine, No. 1925, still retained its saddle tank when scrapped in 1951. The great majority always ran with domed boilers, a few carried the domeless pattern typical of the larger GWR engines for a period. Several series of numbers were occupied by these very numerous engines, impractible to list in full detail, but the later batches eventually occupied complete series as 1216-97, 1501 – 2160, and 2700 – 2799.
Most of the engines survived the First World War, and the original Nos. 93 and 94 lasted until 1931-2. Scrapping on a large scale did not really commence until 1929, when the modernised ‘5700’ class began to be turned out in the large quantities of their predecessors of many years before. Even so, over 200 were still at work on Nationalisation in 1948, and the last of these members of the ‘old brigade’, No. 2069, was not taken out of service until 1959. The following are the representative dimensions of two of the classes as running in later years.
1501 class – Driving wheels – 4’ 7½”, Cylinders – 17”x 24”, Pressure – 165 lb., Tractive Effort – 17525 lb., Weight – 42 tons 17 cwt.