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Vintage shunters at M&B brewery remembered

By dan shaw  |  Posted: February 16, 2012

LMS Pug hired by M&B in 1949

LMS Pug hired by M&B in 1949

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IN addition to the many miles of mainline railway running through the Black Country there were many more miles of industrial track. Perhaps the most famous in our region was the Earl of Dudley’s mineral railway which linked his many collieries and ironworks in a network that predated the passenger railways.

Most major works in the Black Country had their own railways and sidings, connected to the national network, allowing for the easy transportation of raw materials in and the finished product out. These industrial railways were usually operated by small tank engines and the two pictures here show typical examples of the kind. The photographs come from a copy of the Mitchells and Butlers works newsletter, The Deerstalker, dated February 1949, a copy of which has been kindly loaned to the Bugle by Peter Howen of Halesowen.

That particular edition featured an article “Two Veterans of the Track” by John D. Mills, described as “the seventeen- years-old son of our Deputy Chief Engineer” in which he described a Victorian engine that was just about to stop work at the Cape Hill brewery and another old engine hired as a temporary replacement ...

“For a number of months now the Brewery has become the temporary home of a rather quaint and delightful engine. She is 0-4-0 saddle tank No.11221 hired from the LMS in place of the now aged ‘John Barleycorn.’ “During the week she can be seen busily trundling wagons around the Brewery yards, but on Saturdays she takes a trip to Monument Lane running sheds for a wash and brush-up.

“Curiously enough the appearance of this little engine has caused rather a sensation in railway circles in the Midlands as her ten remaining sisters are still at work in and around Manchester and Liverpool.

“Originally designed by Messrs Aspinall for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, they were built at Horwick Works in 1891, and officially christened ‘Pugs’ on account of their diminutive size. Their outside cylinders of 13” x 18” are couples to disc driving wheels 3’ 0?” diameter by Stephenson’s Valve Gear, a rather unusual motion for the LYR which preferred Joy’s or Walschaert’s Gear.

“The Pugs develop a maximum tractive effort of 11,335 lbs and are thus classified OF, a very small amount when compared with 45,000 lbs tractive effort of a modern locomotive.

“Unusual features on these engines are the enclosed valve gear casing, the big wooden buffers and the stumpy stove pipe chimney, also those engines at work in the docks at Liverpool have spark arresters and brightly polished warning bells.

“Now that the days of ‘John Barleycorn’ are numbered, a few details of this unconventional and unique locomotive might be interesting.

“For many years now she has been the sole working example of a geared tramway locomotive. Built about the 1870s by the famous traction firm of Aveling Porter of Rochester, she has undergone very many changes, for when first built the flanges were ‘outside’ the wheels, the main frames carried right up to the steam chest and the idea of having a cab quite unthought of. In bygone days her motion gear was exposed to the elements while her funnel was adorned by a huge brass cap.

“I would like to end by pointing out like so many other railway enthusiasts have, that this grand old timer is now unique and strongly recommend the preservation of her so that the public may inspect a locomotive which might have influenced the whole of travel by rail. It would be a pity for it to end up in a scrap dealer’s yard as it is the only one of its type left in this country.”

The M&B railway was built in 1907 and ran from a spur off the LNWR’s Harborne Railway near Rotton Park Road station. The line passed under City Road then split in two, one line entering the brewery near Shenstone Road and the other by Oliver Road. It operated until November 1963 when the Harborne Railway, which linked M&B to the mainline, was closed and the track lifted.

It is unlikely that John Barleycorn was preserved but does anyone know otherwise? It was replaced at the Cape Hill brewery by another locomotive named John Barleycorn II.

LMS 11221 has not survived either. Of the 57 Class 21 Pugs built by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway between 1891 and 1910, only two have been preserved.

LYR 68 (later LMS 11218 and BR 51218) and LYR 19 (LMS 11243) are both owned by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Trust, the first is at Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and last steamed in 2005, while the second is on display at the Ribble Steam Railway.

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