‘43XX’ 5322 AT 100

In 1917, Church­ward ‘Mogul’ No. 5322 was fer­ry­ing sup­plies to Bri­tish troops in France. One hun­dred years on, TOBY JEN­NINGS catches up with this silent warhorse…

Steam Railway (UK) - - Con­tents -

There was no fan­fare on the whis­tle in salute, nor the ar­tillery-like bar­rage of a Great Western ex­haust, but one of rail­way preser­va­tion’s war he­roes still had all the mil­i­tary hon­ours it was pos­si­ble to pro­vide for its cen­te­nary. As well as be­ing the sole sur­viv­ing ‘43XX’ 2-6-0 built to the orig­i­nal de­sign of G.J. Church­ward, No. 5322’s other claim to fame is hav­ing served in France dur­ing the First World War with the Rail­way Op­er­at­ing Di­vi­sion (ROD) of the Royal En­gi­neers. Com­pleted at Swin­don in late July 1917, the lo­co­mo­tive was first recorded in mil­i­tary ser­vice in France on Au­gust 20. Pre­cisely 100 years later to the day, its preser­va­tion own­ers - the Great Western So­ci­ety - gave the lo­co­mo­tive its own quiet, but heart­felt, birth­day celebration at Did­cot Rail­way Cen­tre. For the ‘Rails on the Western Front’ event of Au­gust 19/20, the ‘Mogul’ donned ROD let­ter­ing in place of its pre­vi­ous BR in­signia and was dis­played in the broad gauge trans­fer shed, with a recre­ated GWR am­bu­lance train, to give the im­pres­sion of a French sta­tion dur­ing the Great War. Held in con­junc­tion with the Great War So­ci­ety, and as­sisted by the Heritage Lot­tery Fund to the tune of £9,000, the week­end sur­rounded No. 5322 with all the au­then­tic trim­mings, in­clud­ing re-en­ac­tors, an in­fantry camp and a ca­su­alty clearing sta­tion, to re­mem­ber its wartime ser­vice.


When the army made an ur­gent call for more mo­tive power in the sum­mer of 1917 - re­quir­ing Bri­tain’s rail­way com­pa­nies to supply a fur­ther 160 lo­co­mo­tives for haul­ing sup­plies be­tween the Chan­nel ports and the Western Front - the GWR’s con­tri­bu­tion was a batch of eleven ‘43XXs’ - Nos. 5319-5330, ex­cept­ing No. 5327. The ‘Moguls’ were cho­sen be­cause, as GWR Gen­eral Man­ager Frank Pot­ter re­ported to the board of di­rec­tors on October 12 1917, “It was stip­u­lated that the en­gines should as far as prac­ti­ca­ble be of one type, i.e. 0-8-0, and of high power, and ar­range­ments were there­fore made for them to be sup­plied by as few Com­pa­nies as

pos­si­ble, these Com­pa­nies in turn be­ing al­lo­cated en­gines from the stock of other Rail­way Com­pa­nies. “In the case of the Great Western Rail­way, we have no en­gines of the 0-8-0 type, and it was im­pos­si­ble to re­lease any of the 2-8-0 class as they are em­ployed ex­clu­sively on the Ad­mi­ralty coal traf­fic.” As al­ways, GWR pride was ev­i­dent when he added: “The Great Western type of 2-6-0 en­gines is in point of power and ef­fi­ciency prac­ti­cally equal to other com­pa­nies’ 0-8-0 en­gines…” These Swin­don ‘sol­diers’ ac­quit­ted them­selves well in mil­i­tary ser­vice, work­ing mainly be­tween Calais and Haze­brouck with their life­line trains of vi­tal sup­plies. Years later, just be­fore his death in 1973, for­mer ROD of­fi­cer C.E.R. Sher­ring­ton re­lated to the GWS the story of an en­counter with No. 5322 in 1917 or 1918: “It was a dark, clear, star-lit night: the moon had not yet risen. My quick­est route to the RE HQ Mess was via the Nord main line from Calais to Haze­brouck, thus avoid­ing the shunt­ing yards in the sprawl­ing de­pot, the big­gest of its kind in France, with 91 miles of track and a stud of 19 ROD lo­co­mo­tives. “Scram­bling onto the main line em­bank­ment near to my of­fice - a wooden hut shared with French rail­way staff - the go­ing be­came rough on the Nord’s closely spaced hard­wood sleep­ers and large size rough bal­last. How­ever, one was ac­cus­tomed to it at all hours of the day and night and a gen­er­ous piste, used by French rail­way­men on their bi­cy­cles, gave ad­e­quate refuge from on­com­ing trains: French lo­co­mo­tive head­lights gave more warn­ing than did the ROD’s oil lamps on the buf­fer beam. “That night near­ing the level cross­ing at Pont-des-Briques, where one turned off for the Mess, an east­bound train was rapidly over­tak­ing me. A glance at my watch led me to hope that it was RCL [Rav­i­taille­ment Calais-Ligne] 21 run­ning on time from Calais (Rivière-Neuve) to St Omer, Haze­brouck and one or more rail­heads. There was no mis­tak­ing the type of lo­co­mo­tive - by the beat of its ex­haust - a GWR ‘Mogul’, thus con­firm­ing that it was, al­most cer­tainly, one of the ‘53s’ do­ing such splen­did work on those supply trains for the II Army. “She over­took me at the Pont-des-Briques cross­ing, with its metal rolling gates, and it was easy to see her num­ber in large white let­ters on the ten­der - ROD 5322. Be­hind her were the cus­tom­ary 44 or so wag­ons, the sup­plies for two Di­vi­sions, each wagon la­belled with the code num­ber of the Di­vi­sion, the colour giv­ing a key to the con­tents mails, fresh meat, case goods (in­clud­ing rum and med­i­cal com­forts), ord­nance (cov­er­ing tents, cloth­ing etc, but not guns or am­mu­ni­tion), petrol, baled hay and oats. Be­hind the ten­der were 24 wag­ons for ‘59’ and be­hind them 23 wag­ons for ‘21’. The num­bers I knew by heart

from my code book - the 18th and 32nd Di­vi­sions. The gross load was some 770 tons: the wag­ons were not vac­uum fit­ted, but, of course, had the French screw cou­plings. “The Great Western ‘Moguls’ were ad­mirable lo­co­mo­tives for this work: their pre­de­ces­sors on it, the Beyer Pea­cock 4-6-4 tanks, which were built for the Nether­lands but never got there, were splen­did ma­chines but had in­ad­e­quate brake power, be­ing de­signed for sub­ur­ban pas­sen­ger trains. The LNWR class ‘27’ 0-8-0s, though fine pullers, had small di­am­e­ter wheels for this work, and were more suited to heav­ier, slower, trains. ‘No. 5322 that night pro­vided a vivid mem­ory last­ing till to­day. Later that same night, when the moon had risen we, as other places, re­ceived con­sid­er­able attention from the German air force, but No. 5322 was by then near Haze­brouck.” GWS vol­un­teer Ciaran John­son, one of No. 5322’s sup­port crew dur­ing its most re­cent pe­riod in steam from 2008 to 2014, has ex­ten­sively re­searched the engine’s his­tory - but apart from Mr Sher­ring­ton’s evoca­tive ac­count, he says: “Un­for­tu­nately there is very lit­tle on the wartime ser­vice of any of these en­gines. No. 5325 was dam­aged in an air raid in March 1918, be­ing pep­pered with shrap­nel holes. The ten­der had to be plugged up with bits of wood! “What we do know is that No. 5322 had an ‘ac­ci­dent’ in April 1918, but there are no fur­ther de­tails. Of the eleven ‘53s’ that went to France, it was the only one that re­quired a heavy re­pair on its re­turn, so it must have been pretty se­ri­ous.”


As the GWS puts it, “the say­ing ‘old sol­diers never die’ was never truer than with this engine.” Even at the end of its long ca­reer with the GWR and BR Western Re­gion, No. 5322 sim­ply re­fused to give up, no mat­ter how hard any­one tried to kill it off. In our re­cent fea­ture ex­plor­ing the his­tory of LBSCR ‘E1’ 0-6-0T No. 110 Bur­gundy, we stated that it was “surely unique among steam lo­co­mo­tives in hav­ing been de­lib­er­ately sab­o­taged to pre­vent its preser­va­tion.” But in fact, Ciaran in­forms us, No. 5322 can make pretty much the same claim: “To­wards the end of its life it was very run down, and had a poor rep­u­ta­tion. Ap­par­ently when it was at Pon­ty­pool Road dur­ing the early ’60s, it was ‘ac­ci­dently’ lit up while the boiler was empty, in an at­tempt to get rid of it. Un­for­tu­nately for the Pon­ty­pool men, it was taken away to Wolver­hamp­ton Works, which promptly put a new boiler on it and sent it straight back! This was re­lated to me by a for­mer Pon­ty­pool fit­ter, and it’s ac­tu­ally backed up by the engine’s his­tory sheet.” The records show No. 5322 be­ing re­leased back into traf­fic from Stafford Road Works on May 26 1961, hav­ing re­ceived boiler No. 6141 - which had been built in Septem­ber 1953 and fit­ted to ‘72XX’ 2-8-2T No. 7218 be­tween April 1954 and Fe­bru­ary 1961. Even af­ter it was fi­nally con­demned at Pon­ty­pool Road on April 24 1964 - with a fi­nal recorded mileage in De­cem­ber 1963 of 1,355,622 - No. 5322 proved a tena­cious sur­vivor. It was one of ten GWR 2-6-0s pur­chased by Dai Wood­ham, but the only orig­i­nal ex­am­ple to evade scrap­ping - en­sur­ing that one of Church­ward’s most sig­nif­i­cant designs (along with a Col­lett ver­sion, No. 7325, now at the Sev­ern Val­ley Rail­way) was avail­able for preser­va­tion.


No. 5322’s his­tor­i­cal im­por­tance was recog­nised early on, for it was the first engine at Barry to be the sub­ject of a pur­chase ap­peal, led by the late David Rouse and Peter Rich in 1965, but it didn’t suc­ceed. Says Ciaran: “From mem­ory, the orig­i­nal ap­peal strug­gled be­cause it was seen as be­ing be­yond the abil­ity of preser­va­tion - the first ‘project im­pos­si­ble’ if you like.” When it was even­tu­ally saved, he adds: “The boiler ‘over­haul’ con­sisted of re­plac­ing 38 small tubes, but that was ground­break­ing stuff at the time.” In­stead, GWS mem­ber John Mynors - who had al­ready funded the ac­qui­si­tion of No. 7808 Cookham Manor and sev­eral coaches - pur­chased the ‘Mogul’ from Wood­ham’s on Jan­uary 8 1969, along with a Church­ward 3,500-gal­lon ten­der from No. 7802 Bradley Manor. Ne­go­ti­a­tions with BR were opened by the late Peter Le­mar, with the price of £2,000 agreed in October 1968. Along with Mid­land ‘4F’ 0-6-0 No. 43924, pur­chased for the Keigh­ley & Worth Val­ley Rail­way (KWVR) from June 12 1968, No. 5322 was one of the pi­o­neers that opened the door for the mass ex­o­dus of lo­co­mo­tives from Barry - lay­ing the foun­da­tions for the ex­ten­sive preser­va­tion move­ment we know to­day. Af­ter No. 43924 on Septem­ber 10 1968 and ‘U’ 2-6-0 No. 31618 in Jan­uary 1969, the ‘Mogul’ was the third engine to de­part from the yard on March 8 1969, be­ing towed to Caer­philly - home of the GWS’ South Wales Group, which later be­came the Caer­philly Rail­way So­ci­ety - by a Class 08 diesel shunter. Steamed for the first time on De­cem­ber 20 1970, and mov­ing un­der its own power on May 23 1971, it was the first of many

Barry en­gines to be re­stored by the GWS, and only the sec­ond of the 213 es­capees from the yard to run again. Re­mark­ably, No. 5322 was put for­ward for a main line rail­tour on May 28 1973. Ap­pro­pri­ately ti­tled ‘Phoenix’, this would have run from Swansea to Here­ford, with the newly re­stored ‘Mogul’ work­ing from New­port, but it was can­celled - of­fi­cially due to a lack of book­ings, but it was reck­oned that the engine needed too much work to pass muster in a BR in­spec­tion. This would be proved in no uncertain terms on Septem­ber 17 that year, when it did re­turn to main line me­tals, al­beit diesel­towed to Did­cot. Says Ciaran: “On the way one of the rods fell off, and was bent. For­tu­nately, they were able to stop off at Swin­don to have it straight­ened and put back on!” Re­turned to a for­mer home shed (it was al­lo­cated to Did­cot from July 1944 to May 1945, and again from Au­gust 1956 to De­cem­ber 1958), No. 5322 took part in early open week­ends, and trav­elled to Maryle­bone on Au­gust 7/8 1974 for the film­ing of Walt Dis­ney’s One of Our Di­nosaurs is Miss­ing. But in 1976, by now de­scribed as “me­chan­i­cally rather tired”, it was with­drawn from ser­vice, to re­main a static ex­hibit for al­most 20 years. In­deed, adds Ciaran: “Af­ter its first ‘restora­tion’, the ash­pan had ba­si­cally disintegrated, so you couldn’t keep it quiet!” Fol­low­ing the death of John Mynors in 1979, the GWS en­tered into ne­go­ti­a­tions to pur­chase No. 5322 and the rest of his col­lec­tion (Cookham Manor, ‘Cas­tle’ No. 5051 Earl Bathurst, and four coaches, in­clud­ing ‘Su­per Saloon’ No. 9113 Prince of Wales). The process was lengthy, re­calls GWS Chair­man Richard Croucher, tak­ing the best part of a decade; an ap­peal to the mem­ber­ship for funds was not made un­til 1988/89.


Now No. 5322 could fi­nally get its chance for over­haul, with a restora­tion ap­peal launched in the early 1990s and the boiler lifted in 1995. Funded en­tirely by do­na­tions, the work took un­til 2008, when the ‘Mogul’ steamed again on the ap­pro­pri­ate date of Re­mem­brance Sun­day, Novem­ber 9, re­splen­dent in ROD khaki. It went on to tour pre­served lines dur­ing ‘GWR175’ year in 2010, and lat­terly car­ry­ing BR black for the first time in preser­va­tion. Sadly, it all came to a pre­ma­ture end in July 2014, when it be­came the first GWR ‘Mogul’ on the Bod­min & Wen­ford Rail­way since steam days - only to fail af­ter just half a day in ser­vice, with ex­ten­sive cracks around the washout plugs on the back cor­ners of the outer fire­box. Since then, it has re­mained a static ex­hibit. So what’s next on the agenda for this price­less GWR arte­fact? Ciaran con­firms that there are cur­rently no plans, nor are the funds avail­able, to re­turn it to steam. Although it might have been pos­si­ble to do so for its cen­te­nary, Richard Croucher ex­plains: “It needed ma­jor surgery which would have ne­ces­si­tated the boiler be­ing taken out of the frames for plate­work to be re­placed. Above all else, we wanted to keep it in one piece for 2017/18.”


So it looks as though No. 5322 will be stay­ing quiet for the fore­see­able fu­ture. But, given its che­quered his­tory, we should be grate­ful that it still ex­ists - and hasn’t been en­tirely for­got­ten. Says Ciaran: “There is a small group of us who have a strong at­tach­ment to the engine, and we’ve talked about form­ing a supporters’ group to raise money and even­tu­ally over­haul No. 5322. We are all in our 20s or early 30s, two work full-time in the lo­co­mo­tive works, while a third is em­ployed in the GWS Car­riage & Wagon depart­ment, so it’s not a com­plete pipe dream. “It’s pretty good me­chan­i­cally, as it had a lot of work done last time around. The axle­boxes need check­ing over, but there’s noth­ing ur­gent - and there is a spare boiler on No. 5227 [al­beit po­ten­tially ear­marked for a Church­ward ‘County’].” “It goes with­out say­ing that it’s an ideal engine, both for Did­cot and pre­served rail­ways in gen­eral.” So, hope­fully, this old warhorse will live to fight another day.


Car­ry­ing orig­i­nal ROD khaki liv­ery, No. 5322 is once again adorned with an RCL head­board for its re­turn to traf­fic in 2008.


A view of No. 5319 on ac­tive duty with the ROD in France.


On Au­gust 8 1974, No. 5322 pro­vides the back­drop for the film­ing of One of Our Di­nosaurs is Miss­ing.

Peter Grans­den, No. 5322’s driver for its launch on Re­mem­brance Sun­day, Novem­ber 9 2008, with the type of weapon the lo­co­mo­tive’s crew would have car­ried in France.

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