Richard Foster,


Model Rail (UK) - - Backscene -

One of the joy­ous things about the rail­way is that there are al­ways new things to dis­cover, no mat­ter how well versed in rail­way his­tory you are. I’m by no means an expert on GWR lo­co­mo­tive mat­ters but I’d say I have a fairly well-rounded knowl­edge. There­fore, re­search­ing GWR pan­nier tanks for the re­view of the Min­erva ‘8750’ (see p88) was an eye-open­ing ex­er­cise. I’d never re­ally paid too much at­ten­tion to the idio­syn­cra­sies of the de­sign, but a few hours of in­ten­sive cram­ming with Ir­well Press’ ex­cel­lent The Pan­nier Pa­pers se­ries re­vealed some fas­ci­nat­ing facts. I had no idea that there were riv­eted or welded tanks, de­pend­ing on builder, or even that there was a batch purely for freight use. The big­gest sur­prise was to find that one ‘8750’ was even con­verted to oil fir­ing. I then stum­bled across a pho­to­graph of it in Steam Rail­way mag­a­zine’s pho­to­graphic ar­chive. BR in­her­ited 93 oil-fired lo­co­mo­tives, in­clud­ing 36 from the Great Western. How­ever, ex­pand­ing the oil-fir­ing con­ver­sion pro­gramme was too ex­pen­sive and it was can­celled in 1948/49. So why Robert Stephen­son & Hawthorns con­verted ‘8750’ No. 3711 to oil fir­ing in 1958 re­mains a bit of a mys­tery. With the lit­tle oil tank on top of the bunker, No. 3711 went to Swin­don where, ap­par­ently, it proved to be a pow­er­ful lit­tle lo­co­mo­tive. It moved to Old Oak Com­mon in April 1962 but didn’t do much – in fact, any – work from there be­fore it was with­drawn in May 1963. Mod­el­ling hours this month: 3 Note to self: Be log­i­cal when try­ing to fix an­noy­ing elec­tri­cal faults.


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