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Black Country steam train memories

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: April 21, 2014

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WHILE reading The Bugle (April 3 edition) I was drawn to page 13 and the pictures of the Ex-GWR Grange class locos.

As a young Oxley-based fireman during the mid 1960s I worked on most of the Oxley allocated Granges. They were very powerful and free steaming locos for their size.

My fondest memory of this class of loco was in early 1965 around March or April I was booked to work with a senior driver to work the second of three parts of the Bournemouth – Manchester "Pines Express". This train normally worked over the Grand Junction Line through Bushbury. On this occasion, which was a Saturday, because of engineering work the train was split into three parts and directed via Oxford, Birmingham Snow Hill, Wolverhampton Low Level and on to Crewe via Shrewsbury.

Waiting on the platform at Low Level the first part arrived headed by a new diesel loco, which led me to believe I was to have an easy day because of the first part being diesel hauled. As the second part was reported as arriving the train burst out of the tunnel into the station hauled by a steam loco. At first I was disappointed by the fact the train was steam hauled, but that soon change as the loco pulled to a stand. The loco was what appeared to be a shining new ex-works Grange class loco. The name and number shone like gold in the sunlight and the loco was shinning green. Before we could climb on to the footplate we were surrounded by train spotters of all ages. They were asking questions and taking photos of the engine.

If memory serves me correct it was one of the locos in your photos, 6849 Walton Grange, which was an Oxford-based loco being transferred north because steam was to finish on the Western Region of BR and Oxford was to close to steam.We departed from Wolverhampton for Crewe via Wellington and Shrewsbury. The loco steamed really well and rode like new.

On arrival at Shrewsbury we were again surrounded by spotters and photographers but the real shock was yet to come at Crewe. On arrival at Crewe and running down the platform we were swamped by enthusiasts. This loco worked the Birmingham -Wolverhampton area until withdrawn at the end of 1965. Are any of your readers able to remember this day?

Brian Till


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