A rather sad waste

For all sorts of reasons, the first twenty years of British Railways, from 1948 to 1968, were badly managed. That, of course, is the benefit of hindsight. But here’s a case in point.


This is loco number 92212 undergoing repairs at Ropley on the Mid Hants railway, also known as the Watercress Line because that’s a crop grown locally.

She (if such a big engine can be called she) was one of the last steam locomotives built for main line service on British Railways. Let’s zoom in on her works plate.image003

Yes, she was built at Swindon in September 1959. This loco was built to haul the heaviest of freight trains. Her wheels – all ten driving wheels – are small which gives her lots of power but not such a high maximum speed. Having said that, when any of the 251 engines of this class were used on passenger trains, they could reach speeds of 90 mph or more. They were, actually, really useful at that task as well. This engine certainly proved itself on passenger work for it spent some of its life on the old Somerset and Dorset line.

Steam locos were expected to have a front line service of thirty years or so and may well then have been used in a more secondary capacity. Back in the early 1960s there were plenty of Victorian freight engines still running – 60 years old. But British Railways were determined to rid themselves of steam and so this engine was barely over 8 years old when she was taken to Dai Woodham’s Barry Scrapyard in January 1968. During her working life she had travelled just over 78000 miles. Many a steam loco did over the million miles.

Dai had plenty of simple scrapping to do and steam loco work was quite complex. It got left for a rainy day and then, in the end, barely happened at all. 92212 was amongst 213 engines that were bought from the scrapyard by preservationists. She was removed from Barry in September 1979 – just on her 20th birthday.

And now this loco is a useful part of the motive power on the Watercress Line although clearly she was not in service on the day we visited.


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