WE have more fascinating steam train pictures courtesy of railway memorabilia collector Laurence Brownhill of Dudley. These photographs were taken in the mid 1960s around Laurence's home town and show engines that were soon to be scrapped.
Our first picture, taken in July 1965, is a dramatic shot of a train exiting the south end of the Dudley tunnel near Blowers Green, with the gas works above it.
Dudley railway tunnel opened in 1850 and carried the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway line for several hundred yards beneath hills on the southern approach to Dudley. Passenger services through the tunnel ended 1964 but freight services continued until 1993. Today the tunnel is gated but there is a proposal for goods services to resume.
The train was taking empty carriages to Stourbridge Junction where they would form a train to Worcester.
Pulling the train is 6856 Stowe Grange, a 6800 Grange Class locomotive built by the Great Western Railway at its Swindon works. Designed by Charles Collett, the Grange class were designed for mixed traffic and were effectively a smaller wheeled version of the Hall Class. 80 were built and named after stately homes.
Stowe Grange entered service in November 1937 and was named after Stowe Grange near St Briavels, Gloucestershire. In October 1957 she was allocated to the engine sheds at Worcester and was withdrawn from service in November 1965. She was then scrapped in May 1966 by Cashmore of Newport.
Our colour picture shows another Grange Class locomotive, 6849 Walton Grange. The picture was taken in June 1965 and its shows an empty train of iron ore wagons from Bilston travelling along the Bumble Hole line and passing New Road on the way to Baptist End. In the background, to the right, is a breeze block factory, while on the left is one of Dudley's best-known landmarks, the distinctive spire of Top Church.
The locomotive is without its name plates and the colour picture shows just how run down some steam engines became as they were withdrawn from the network under British Rail's modernisation scheme.
Walton Grange left the Swindon works in October 1937 and was withdrawn from service after 28 years and 2 months in December 1965. She too was scrapped by Cashmores of Newport in 1966.
Our last picture was taken at Withymoor goods yard in Netherton, Laurence tells us, in August 1965. In the background are the great Hingley works and the chain testing building that had only recently been built.
The locomotive is 9614, a 5700 Class pannier tank engine built by the Great Western at Swindon in 1945. This is another Collett engine, an upgrade of Victorian designs but very successful. More than 800 were built between 1929 and 1950 and the locomotive became synonymous with the GWR; "Duck", one of the characters in Rev W. Awdry'sRailway Series of books, is a 5700 Class.
9614 is shown having completed its duties in the goods yards and its crew are taking refreshments in the little hut at the side of the track.
The engine was withdrawn from service just over 12 months later, in July 1966, and was scrapped in the November.
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