Steam Locomotives of a More Leisurely Era
No.81 as originally built with tender cab
This railway was jointly owned by the Midland and the London & South Western Railways, and the former was responsible for the provision of motive power. It was not surprising therefore that the locomotives were based largely on Derby practice, and the 2-8-0s introduced in 1914 by Sir Henry Fowler were pure Midland, although, strangely enough, that railway never built anything larger than an 0-6-0 for its own heavy freight traffic. Six engines, Nos. 80-5, came from Derby in 1914, and in 1925 a further five, Nos. 86-90, were built by Stephenson & Co. These latter had larger boilers, but as these were of non-standard Derby dimensions the engine in later years were rebuilt to conform with the original ones as the boilers required replacement.
The S & DJR locomotive stock was absorbed into the LMS in 1930, and the 2-8-0s at first took the numbers 9670-80, but they were soon afterwards altered to 13800-10. On passing into BR hands they became 53800-10.
The class remained intact until 1959, when the first one, No. 53800, was withdrawn. The engines were built for working freight traffic over the steeply graded main line of the S & DJR between Bath and Bournemouth, on which route they have spent their entire working life. To assist in coping with the heavy holiday traffic on Saturdays during the summer months they have frequently been called upon to work passenger trains. For a few months during 1918 No. 85 was lent to the parent Midland Railway which used it on coal trains between Wellingborough and Brent, with a view to constructing some for its own use, but nothing came of the idea. Owing to the absence of a large-enough turntable they worked for many years always facing south, and because of the large amount of tender-first running involved, Nos. 80-5 were fitted with cabs to the tenders, but these were later removed.
Nos. 80-5 – Driving wheels – 4’ 8½”, Cylinders (2) 21”x 28”, Boiler diameter – 4’ 9”, Pressure – 190 lb., Tractive effort – 35295 lb., Weight – 64 tons 15 cwt, BR classification – 7F
Nos.86-90 as built – Driving wheels – 4’ 8½”, Cylinders (2) 21”x 28”, Boiler diameter – 5’ 3”, Pressure – 190 lb., Tractive effort – 35295 lb., Weight – 68 tons 11 cwt, BR classification – 7F No.88 preserved on the West Somerset Railway