Sunday, March 1, 2015

GWR 48XX/14XX Class

The 14XX class was a branch line steam locomotive built by the Great Western Railway in the mid-1930s. Seventy five of these small tank engines were built which had a 0-4-2 wheel arrangement, the four wheels at the front of the design being powered, of which 4 were preserved and survive today on heritage railways and museums. The example shown here 1450 is seen on the Severn Valley Railway.

Although dating from 1932 the origin of the 14XX class (originally called the 48XX) was the GWR 517 class from the 1860s. This design was continually modified and improved over the years with the  48XX locomotives built as a more modern version of the ageing 512 class locomotives.

The 14XX (as they become after World War 2) could work with an autocoach, a coach with a driving cab at one end getting rid of the need (and wasted time) of the locomotive having to change ends of the train at termini. When in push mode with the autocoach the fireman remained in the locomotive with the driver operating the locomotive via controls in the autocoach cab. The driver communicated with the fireman using an electric bell.

Typical routes a 14XX and autocoach were used on included High Wycombe-Aylesbury, the last running using this motive power being in 1962, and Bourne End-Marlow. The 14XX class had a decent career (though nowhere near as long as their 517 class forerunners) and made it to mainline steam's final decade with the final withdrawals in the mid-1960s.

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